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Winter Cycling Don't let snow and ice discourage you this winter. The key element to year-round cycling is proper attire! Check out this winter cycling forum to chat with other ice bike fanatics.

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Old 02-13-08, 02:26 PM   #1
Roody
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Scariest thing about winter riding?

Last night I was riding home from work in about 4 inches of fresh snow that had just finished falling. I could barely stay upright in the streets full of choppy snow, but I was making slow but decent progress.

As I got close to home on a major city street, I happened to look over my shoulder. Yellow blinking lights everywhere! That ominous sound of metal scraping on pavement, rapidly coming closer! It was the snowplows bearing down on me--four of them in phalanx formation!

These rolling dinosaurs covered the entire roadway from curb to curb, and they were moving fast. I didn't want to go left into approaching traffic, and there was no easy escape to the right because the curb was covered by a four foot snowbank from snow thrown up in previous storms. I thought fast, and got off my bike in the middle of the lane. I threw the bike over the snowbank, and scrambled after it, barely missing the chance to be a snack for the mighty beasts.

Of course I saluted the plow drivers as they passed, knowing that I would have smooth riding for the rest of my trip home. And it wasn't until I got home that I noticed my bike computer had fallen off while I was dodging the plows. I went back to look for it this morning, but it was either smashed by the truck wheels or buried under the snow. It turned out to be a pretty expensive ride in the snow!
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Old 02-13-08, 06:53 PM   #2
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The plows took to the roads 30 minutes after I got home. What a hot sweaty ride that was. Fighting with the front wheel the whole way. I hate the driven on snow type which breaks free and slides in compacted chunks. Don't think studs would help there.

I had to ride in middle of lane. Luckily have a good rear view mirror and was able to see the few cars at 12am on road in time to pull over and let them pass.

4 plows in echelon sounds scary. Nice after they go by but what a sight to see filling up your barend mirror.
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Old 02-13-08, 07:36 PM   #3
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It probably is the worst thing about the winter.
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Old 02-13-08, 10:25 PM   #4
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The plows took to the roads 30 minutes after I got home. What a hot sweaty ride that was. Fighting with the front wheel the whole way. I hate the driven on snow type which breaks free and slides in compacted chunks. Don't think studs would help there.
Yup, I can push along through a foot of fresh powder and make graceful turns on black ice, but that heavily sanded/salted partially consolidated crap the city creates instead of ploughing makes it almost impossible to steer. Studs do not help, but I find that a narrower tire is easier to manoeuvre than a wide tire.
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Old 02-14-08, 10:41 AM   #5
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jesus man...
I think that the only other scary thing in winter is when cars skid through intersections.
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Old 02-14-08, 11:03 AM   #6
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I am glad you survived OK. I do try to stay off the roads when the plows need to be out there to do their job in cleaning the streets. So far I've been amazed at how few days I've lost to snow here in the Buffalo NY area. Yesterday the back roads were terrible as the fresh snow got covered with some freezing rain. Cursty and mushy at the same time... not good for stability.

The scarriest day for me so far this year was last Tuesday. The morning commute started OK, when the predicted morning sleet was just rain (fine for cycling). The day ended badly. The predicted afternoon snow turned out to be some of the wrost sleet we've experienced in ages. There was a solid sheet of ice at least 1/4" thick covering everything. Walking was near impossible. I did go down hard once, and my shoulder still is a bit sore. When I got home, my gloves, and bags were covered with a solid sheet if ice... that was one lousy ride.

Happy riding,
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Old 02-14-08, 11:13 AM   #7
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One plow is scary enough.
http://velonews.com/article/71866
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Old 02-14-08, 01:13 PM   #8
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People from warmer climates may not understand what we mean when we talk about snowplows. These aren't pickups with dinky plows on them, driven by some kindly old man or slow moving bulldozers. They're enormous, fast-moving infernal machines as big as a semi with razor sharp blades slung underneath throwing sparks driven by ex cons wired on meth, listening to Megadeath. They will run you down and roll you up like a sack of kittens.
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Old 02-14-08, 02:03 PM   #9
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People from warmer climates may not understand what we mean when we talk about snowplows. These aren't pickups with dinky plows on them, driven by some kindly old man or slow moving bulldozers. They're enormous, fast-moving infernal machines as big as a semi with razor sharp blades slung underneath throwing sparks driven by ex cons wired on meth, listening to Megadeath. They will run you down and roll you up like a sack of kittens.
Around here it's more like ex-husbands (working all-night OT to pay child support) wired on Mountain Dew and donuts, listening to Vince Gill.

Otherwise your description is pretty accurate. Snowplows are the big orange trucks the county/city uses all year to fix roads, loaded with tons of salt that they spray all over you when they're mad at that crazy cyclist who's the only one out there besides them.
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Old 02-14-08, 02:18 PM   #10
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Watching people try to "drive".
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Old 02-14-08, 05:12 PM   #11
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Old 02-14-08, 07:42 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Cosmoline View Post
People from warmer climates may not understand what we mean when we talk about snowplows. These aren't pickups with dinky plows on them, driven by some kindly old man or slow moving bulldozers. They're enormous, fast-moving infernal machines as big as a semi with razor sharp blades slung underneath throwing sparks driven by ex cons wired on meth, listening to Megadeath. They will run you down and roll you up like a sack of kittens.
That is funny. I'm going to picture this every time I see one now. Its spelled Megadeth by the way. One of my favorite bands.
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Old 02-18-08, 09:23 AM   #13
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Around here it's more like ex-husbands (working all-night OT to pay child support) wired on Mountain Dew and donuts, listening to Vince Gill.

Otherwise your description is pretty accurate. Snowplows are the big orange trucks the county/city uses all year to fix roads, loaded with tons of salt that they spray all over you when they're mad at that crazy cyclist who's the only one out there besides them.
Best of all, I found out that they are exempt from having to be responsible for any damage they cause. There have been a few stories in the news here where cars were hit by plows, and the Cities/Towns have 0 financial liability, even if the plow driver was clearly wrong.

For those not used to how they plow up here in the "frozen" North, the highway department also tends to work the plows in teams. Therefore two or three plows will work a road to clear it in its entirety in one pass. When you see them coming at you, you'd better move over into the shoulder or you just may get clipped. It can be a bit scarry! On the main highway they work in a team of 4 and will clear the entire road (2 lanes and 2 shoulders) in one pass as well. You just have to slow down to match their speed and stay back so the salt doesn't get pelted directly on your car.

In all fairness I do think the plow drivers around here do an excellent job. It may have snowed 6 to 12 inches between 2 and 5 am, but my the morning the roads are in good shape, and on the way home I'd be able to ride my bike safely on the shoulder as it is almost completely clean. Ice and insame winds have kept me off my bike far more than wind the last few weeks.

Happy riding,
André
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Old 02-18-08, 09:53 AM   #14
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Hmmm, never seen a plow in my rear view, they drive much too slow.

(Note: I've never biked on the road while the plows were out, the above refers to my Rally Car style snow driving).
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