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  1. #1
    3 seconds ColorChange's Avatar
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    ABORT! ABORT!!!! Had to bail out this morning.

    OK, I live in Chicago (NW suburbs) and we got about 8" of snow on Friday and then it got real cold. The snow plowing was terrible and even on Monday when I thought I might try to ride in, it was only 9F and I thought the combination of lousy plowing and single digit temps too much for me. OK, so Tuesday morning the plowing is a little better but there is still ice and ruts all over the place but now the temp was 3F. Yes, that's not a typo, 3F or -16C, before windchill. Fine, I winp out but this morning it's a nice 32F and I can't wait to get back on my winter bike to get some riding in, equipped with Nokian snows.

    I get down my neighborhood roads without much difficulty but have quite a bit of trouble going down the highway (4 lane divided 65 mph) because the snow/slush (2-4") on the shoulder is semi frozen. Sometimes I can ride above it and sometimes my tires crash through and slide all over because there is usually ice underneath. The front tire is usually OK but the back tire is all over the place and I am very near the white line and uncomfortable. Well ... I trudge on.

    After a mile or two, I get to my forest preserve MUP. After hopping the snow bank, I try to ride on the MUP. This is confusing me as it is sometimes fine, but I am often being thrown all over the place. The footprints and tracks are tossing me all over the place. I fall and eat a handlebar right in the ribs ... ouch. Yes, I have my speedplay zeros and this is not great as you don't have enough time to clip out when you are going down. Here is a picture of the situation.




    Here is what happened. The people who traveled on the MUP before it got cold stomped through the deep snow and slush. Then it got cold. Now there are freakin mini ice craters everywhere. They stick up about 2-3" and have sharp frozen edges. It's like hitting 2-3" rocks that you can't see very well. Here is a close-up shot.




    So, I still don't want to give up even though I can't clip in on one of my shoes anymore due to the ice packed in it. I drop to the granny gear and try to ride around the mini mines. No chance. There are too many and some are hidden. I fall again! So, let's try riding off the mup over on the side of the grass. This doesn't work either, the same issue exists over there with footprints and cross country ski tracks. After my third fall ... banging and pulling my knee, I throw in the towel. Except I have to get back home.

    I walk the bike back to the road (Feeling like a loser) I get back on the highway (with both shoes fouled now) and head for home, reassesing if I can take busy roads to get to work but looking at fantastic plowing like this ... I say no way, live to fight again another day.



    If I try to ride on exposed pavement, I'm in the highway. If I try to ride on the shoulder, I'm in deep snow/slush/ice hell. Worse yet, it's supposed to get cold again tomorrow. The whole episode took close to an hour.

    I am going to scout different routes and maybe even drive my car on the shoulder to make a narrow lane for myself tomorrow morning. This blows as I really want to get some cardio in and really dislike indoor training but I will use a Nordic Track if I have to. I have been doing more weightlifting the past few days.

    Any thoughts or suggestions from you experienced guys?
    Last edited by ColorChange; 12-06-06 at 08:04 AM.

  2. #2
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    That "highway" (arterial?) looked feasible, if you were careful. Assuming it's legal for bikes, it looked like a reasonable alternative to the MUP...not much traffic (in your photo), good sight lines, and 2 lanes for the cars. If you use a mirror, you could ride the shoulder where it was plowed, and get out in the lane where it wasn't plowed.

    I'd also complain to the city about their plowing on the highway, and ask the parks department if they could plow the MUP (some cities do this routinely).

    I'd also recommend a good tail light, like the Planet Bike Superflash. I have two on my commuter (one on the seatpost, and one on the left seat stay). I run them on flash mode during my commutes, regardless of whether it's dark outside (they're daylight visible). Since I've mounted them, I've noticed cars give me a wider berth when passing and seem to notice me earlier.
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  3. #3
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    There's no real answer to conditions that variable. I'd had some success on ice-footprint-covered MUPs on big mountain bikes with wide studded tires and soft suspension, but of course they are incredibly slow-moving everywhere else.

    Which Nokian tires are those?

  4. #4
    Senior Member thdave's Avatar
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    I did not ride in today, since I thought I'd face a similar situation. However, I noticed on my drive that they had plowed the MUP! So, I missed out. I still need winter tires, though.

    I'd ask your parks department about that--it should be plowed. People need to walk dogs every day.
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  5. #5
    3 seconds ColorChange's Avatar
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    They are Nokian Hikkepelitta W106 700cc x 35. Unfortunately the highway is pretty busy and everytime I tried to bail out to the right I was fighting to stay upright. I really didn't want to fall out into the road in traffic (yikes).
    Last edited by ColorChange; 12-06-06 at 08:07 AM.

  6. #6
    Senior Membre doraemonkey's Avatar
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    Hah, it looks like you had a better excuse than I did. Here it was sunny and clear this morning. But I had a slight twinge in my left knee that was bothering me. So I decided to wimp out, or at least save my legs for another day and take the train. I am regretting it now a bit, since I am feeling a bit fidgety in front of the computer.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by thdave
    I did not ride in today, since I thought I'd face a similar situation. However, I noticed on my drive that they had plowed the MUP! So, I missed out. I still need winter tires, though.
    I was surprised to see that the Cleveland Metroparks was right on clearing the MUPs, much better than the Cleveland road crews were on clearing side streets. Streets and paths this morning were pretty much clear except for some side streets. The snow yesterday however caught the crews off-guard and the ride in was tricky. Snow churned up by cars is very difficult to ride in as it provides very little traction. The Pugs did admirable though.
    As for that unplowed frozen MUP. I think I could handle it with my Pugs. A wide agressive knobbie would have been better. And probably the best solution would have been an agressive studded knobbie. A 35mm studded tire just is not going to work in those conditions. I know I've tried.
    Craig

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    Color, where is that? I go from Wauconda to Waukegan . Is that the libertyville path?

    2) For those not in IL, I tried to call about the plowing and got a laughing response. I was told to get a 4 wheel drive car etc. I was kind of mad. If that's their attitude about the road I know and will bet you bike pink slips that there's no way in heck they will p;ow a MUP. This isn't MN.

  9. #9
    Two H's!!! TWO!!!!! chephy's Avatar
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    Lots of people around here ride on arterials with narrow lanes and no shoulder every day. Sometimes it's not even too bad if traffic is light or so heavy it's at standstill or you're just used to it. Roads are almost always narrower in winter because of snow so you'll have to be out in the lane more often. It's perfectly legal and on the road in the picture there is a whole wide open left lane for the impatient ones to pass you, so I would've ridden on the pavement. But if you're not ready to do it, it may end up feeling worse than the worst nightmare you've ever had. Snow-covered and possibly slippery roads are far from ideal confidence-building traffic-riding ground.

    I wouldn't have ridden on the shoulder. It just looks too dangerous, too easy to slip and fall into the traffic lane...

    I may have tried x-country skiing on the MUP.

  10. #10
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    Now there are freakin mini ice craters everywhere. They stick up about 2-3" and have sharp frozen edges.
    Sharp is right!
    This happened in January on the same type of frozen/rutted footpath.


  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by ColorChange
    They are Nokian Hikkepelitta W106 700cc x 35. Unfortunately the highway is pretty busy and everytime I tried to bail out to the right I was fighting to stay upright. I really didn't want to fall out into the road in traffic (yikes).
    I would not bother trying to ride in snow/slush next to 65mph traffic. If I had to ride that road (i.e. no other alternatives with slower speed), I'd take my place in the middle of the lane and watch my back. If there are traffic lights at the intersection, you'd generally be dealing with packs of cars which is good and bad. It's good because if you can get the first car in right lane to slow, then the rest are forced to slow down as well. It's bad because packs will often drive fast and tight and if the first guy waits until the last second to change lanes at full speed, the guy behind him may not see you up ahead. I'd want to be standing on the pedals giving everyone the biggest view of me possible so that they know there is a slow moving vehicle to pass up ahead. What you need to convey to the motorists as they approach is that you have no intentions of moving over so they must slow down. It won't be peaceful but it's not impossible. It's still better than driving in my opinion

  12. #12
    DNPAIMFB pinkrobe's Avatar
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    That's why I avoid MUP like the plague. Frozen mini craters from peds and horses are teh suk.
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  13. #13
    3 seconds ColorChange's Avatar
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    Wonk, South Barrington to Streamwood. Yes, they would laugh there arses off if I asked to have the MUP plowed.

    Chephy - Normal roads, 45 and lower I don't mind too much, but 65 mph with little shoulders in dark and icy conditions ... not my cup of tea. I have two young daughters. When I can use the shoulders I do it all the time, but not without.

    Packer ... Ouch. Man am I glad I didn't fall on one of those! Damn am I glad I bailed.

    Joe - yea, it would probably work but I'm just not comfortable on the high speed roads.

  14. #14
    spinspinspinspin fatbat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ColorChange
    Wonk, South Barrington to Streamwood. Yes, they would laugh there arses off if I asked to have the MUP plowed.
    Sounds like you need a fat-tired mtb- with wide tires & a low gear, that path should be manageable.

    If you go off to the side (away from the frozen footprints), things often get a lot easier.
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  15. #15
    3 seconds ColorChange's Avatar
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    I tried that but there was the similar crap even in the grass. Even the damn ski tracks were killing me.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by ColorChange
    Even the damn ski tracks were killing me.
    That could explain why your MUP isn't plowed. I'm told that around here they're not plowed specifically because of the cross-country skiers.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
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    Whenever they plow the MUPs around here they heavily salt them as well. Since these paths are in river valleys with numerous iron bridges, I've found that I've come out against any kind of winter maintanence. I'd rather detour until the snow is better packed than have bridges rust through (they are bad enough already) or have piles of rock salt in parks in the spring.

    If they could stand to just plow them, that would be fine.

  18. #18
    meep! legot73's Avatar
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    I'm riding the same tires in identical conditions, and I sympathize with the "keeping upright" challenge. The MUP to downtown Milwaukee is plowed religiously, a perk for paying one of the highest property taxes in the nation. Unfortunately, I don't work downtown.

    The road is your best bet, unfortunately. The safest way to do the road you show is to get out in the right lane. My experience with Illinois drivers says that's not going to be an enjoyable ride. Are there some alternate routes that can get you there? Routes that would take twice as long in a car are often no difference on a bicycle. You might want to study a map of the area and see if residential roads connect you.

    Good luck.
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    Two H's!!! TWO!!!!! chephy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ColorChange
    Chephy - Normal roads, 45 and lower I don't mind too much, but 65 mph with little shoulders in dark and icy conditions ... not my cup of tea.
    65 mph??!! Jesus, I agree with you, I would've stayed off that road too, especially when one takes into account how fast the cars are really going there... There does come a point when people just overdrive their reaction time so to speak. I think the only roads in Ontario with a 65 mph limit (a little lower, in fact) are restricted-access highways. Outside of those, the limit is 50 mph tops. Sometimes less, even in the country.

    I'd look for other routes if I were you. Since I started cycling seriously, I started making mental notes whenever I was on ANY road (this one would be great to ride on.. and this one - ugh, what a nightmare!..). Whenever I have a destination to which I go with some regularity, I really study the maps and try different routes noting traffic, hills, pavement condition, stop lights etc. Some routes I only ride once and forget like a bad dream, others become my favourite.

  20. #20
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    65 mph traffic with the possibility of black ice - yeah I wouldn't attempt that. IMHO it's asking for a problem...

  21. #21
    domestique squeakywheel's Avatar
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    They don't do any snow removal at all on the MUP trails where I live. They usually look like the picture you show for pretty much the whole winter. Better find a route to work on roads.

    Constructive idea: Swap out the clipless pedals for platforms for the winter. When the bike goes down, you can land on your feet like a cat instead of crashing hard on the ground.

    Pipe dream: My ultimate bad weather dream bike would be a Surly Pugsly. Float over all that crap.
    Last edited by squeakywheel; 12-06-06 at 10:29 AM.

  22. #22
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    This is why I avoid mups in the winter...too many damn ruts & craters, especially on onpaved MUPs like the O&E towpath. You need wider tires, running low pressure and with more studs...like the 240s with studs on the sides. As far as pedals, the winter bikes always run either M324's (spd on one side, platform on the other) or platforms with power grips.
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

  23. #23
    3 seconds ColorChange's Avatar
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    Chephy, I really have a problem. I have to cross that highway somewhere and it is a mile or so either way to cross into the forest preserve MUP. If I have to avoid the MUP , I am on pretty busy highways for about 5 miles. Not great at all. My house is surrounded on the southern end by forest preserves and highways.

    Squeeky + Chipcom, I hate switching to platforms as it completely destroys my stroke but I think you're right and I really should on my winter bike. I have a hard enough time forcing myself to push over the top and pull through the bottom and I hate having to retrain myself.

  24. #24
    domestique squeakywheel's Avatar
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    Sounds like the best answer is stick with the MUP. Use the fattest low pressure tires you can use. Swap the pedals for platforms.

    PowerGrips are a little easier to get out of quick than clipless as long as you don't have too much of your foot through the strap. Last winter I used just platforms. I used PowerGrips this summer and am planning to stick with them through the winter on my bad weather bike.

  25. #25
    spinspinspinspin fatbat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ColorChange
    Squeeky + Chipcom, I hate switching to platforms as it completely destroys my stroke but I think you're right and I really should on my winter bike. I have a hard enough time forcing myself to push over the top and pull through the bottom and I hate having to retrain myself.
    powergrips on BMX platforms are great for the winter- they hold your feet securely in the pedals even for the pulling back portion of the stroke, but you can still flip them over and ride on the platforms alone when you think you might want to bail.

    edit- squeakywheel beat me to it.
    a radar blip, an empty clip, post-nasal drip, and kung fu grip

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