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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 01-20-05, 09:13 AM   #1
rogue9607
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I'd really like to get out on a ride tomorrow, but have no experience with the DC area trails after a snow. How do they fair? Do they clear the snow and salt the paths, and if so, how long after the snow are they usually cleared? I'm most interested in the Mt. Vernon trail and the Capital Crescent trail. I know quite a few people use these trails for commuting (including myself in warmer weather), so I'd think there'd be a need to clear them, but that seems logical and I don't want to make that assumption. Any help is greatly appreciated!

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Old 01-20-05, 10:53 AM   #2
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I don't think they get cleared with any regularity. Last year, I went on several rides on the Mt. Vernon and Custis trails where there was packed snow and ice. It can be a bit tricky because the frozen surface is made uneven by the joggers and peds who use the trails.

But since the trails run through numerous municipal jurisdictions (i.e. Montgomery County, National Park Service, DC, Arlington, Alexandria, etc.) your results may vary.
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Old 01-20-05, 11:09 AM   #3
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The trails in Prince George's County, MD, haven't been cleared yet at all. In fact there were plenty of ski and snowmobile tracks this morning. I happen to love riding on the snow, but it will ice up eventually...
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Old 01-20-05, 01:01 PM   #4
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Thanks for the insight. At lunch I walked three blocks of the trail where it picks up again on the north side of Old Town. One of the blocks had been plowed (could see a pile of snow running along the right side) and the other two were mostly clear, but didn't appear plowed. All three looked better than most of the sidewalks and some streets.
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Old 01-20-05, 02:24 PM   #5
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In my experience on the Mt. Vernon Trail for the past three years, clearing is not done. Worse, melting leads to very slippery ice, especially in shady patches. This under new snow can be really treacherous.

It's fun to ride in the snow, but not the ice without studded tires. Ride, but ride gingerly and consider wearing a helmet.
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Old 01-20-05, 06:10 PM   #6
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I ride the Mt. Vernon Trail as well. I have heard (this is second hand information that I saw posted on usenet dc.biking newsgroup) that the GW Parkway people has declined a few requests to have that trail cleared over the past few years though it has been noted that they will clear the parking lot at Roosevelt Island. So I don't really expect a difference this year.

However, it did get up to 35 today and we had some sun. I am hoping some of the snow melted off considering what I saw on the streets. I rode home on the trail Wednesday evening when the snow was still soft, before it had frozen hard. Part of the trail between the Gravely Point Parking Lot and the semi-heavy tree cover on the river-side of the trail near the bridges (trains, 395) was already clear because the wind was blowing the snow off. Doesn't look like it ever got a chance to accumulate significantly along that section, but there probably will be black ice patches along this section from the melting of snow alongside the trail during the day and refreezing at night. I didn't get a chance to check it out today, but I plan to at least try to go tomorrow with my studded tires. Of course, I'm only about a mile from the bridge. If I find it impassible I'll just turn around. Or I might just try to hoof it over the rough spots till Crystal City.
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Old 01-21-05, 09:48 AM   #7
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Rode in to work today along Four Mile Run, Mt. Vernon trail, and the 14th Street Bridge into Downtown DC.

At 7 am, there were many patches of black ice and icy areas made bumpy by footprints from the day before. There were very few areas with snow remaining. I would say it was about 65% clear, 35% icy. All of the bridges were completely covered in snow/ice mix. The mix was easier to navigate than the pure ice, of course.

After taking some pressure out of my tires, I was able to make it in with minimal slippage, riding 700x32 cyclocross tires w/o studs.
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Old 01-24-05, 04:05 PM   #8
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Thanks for the feedback. I had a fairly successful ride, although I wasn't as prepared as I should've been for the wind. I didn't find too much black ice, but there were some patches of slush and snow with underlying ice. It wasn't nearly as bad as I expected it to be and I'm now considering resuming my bike commute. Thanks!
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Old 01-24-05, 04:16 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rogue9607
Thanks for the feedback. I had a fairly successful ride, although I wasn't as prepared as I should've been for the wind. I didn't find too much black ice, but there were some patches of slush and snow with underlying ice. It wasn't nearly as bad as I expected it to be and I'm now considering resuming my bike commute. Thanks!
I love my snow commute, at least the part on the trails... wonderfully quiet and scenic.
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Old 01-24-05, 04:20 PM   #10
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I wish more of my commute was on the trails... I work on the north side of Old Town, so just when the trail picks back up, I'm at work. I'll have to take the "long" way home.
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Old 01-24-05, 05:09 PM   #11
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If I use part of the Route 50 and Washington Blvd. trails, it cuts about a half mile off my commute. Today, I felt the need for adventure on the way home, so I decided to gove it a try. I normally don't use the trails at all when it snows.

Surprise! They were uncleared and chewed up into a moonscape by pedestrians, but quite rideable with Nokian W106s. I'm not sure I saved any time, as it was slower going than my road route, but it was highly entertaining.

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