Posted by shana on Apr 21, 2009 in biking adventures
New Video to Watch: Inspired Bicycles
Check. It. Out.
And I thought it was cool that I could make it to work in 15 minutes (with a tailwind)… I’m going to have to work on my skills. Also though, I don’t think my bike was built for this… and I’m not crazy… but wow, I kind of wish I was… anyway, just watch the video. Don’t forget to pick your jaw up off the floor when it’s done.
Posted by shana on Feb 15, 2009 in biking adventures
When I tell people that I get around the city primarily by bike, even/especially in the winter, the most common response I get is, “aren’t the roads kind of dangerous in the winter?” A legitimate question – all that slush and ice and snow and salt and muck and goodness knows what else out on the roads, it could be a recipe for disaster. It sure is for lots of cars. But I can always tell people, with 100% honesty, that I have had more near wipe-outs crossing the back courtyard to the bike room than I ever have had out on the road. Or that my tired legs have almost tripped and I have almost fallen on my face on the stairs on my way up to the apartment after a ride… but out on the streets, I’ve always felt very safe.
I do usually take city streets in the winter – there’s that very convenient, not to mention beautiful path along the lake that connects us directly to downtown, but I’ve been avoiding it for the last few months simply because I like to have some sort of buffer between myself and the unceasing winds off the lake. They’re cold. Not even heated pants can save you when they come gusting at 30mph on an already only 15 degree day. But in these last few weeks, we’ve had some warmer/calmer days, so little by little, I’ve been venturing out there again. It feels good to reconnect with the lake, and I like biking uninterruptedly for miles, instead of having to stop every 2 minutes or so at a red light. It’s nice. I like the view of the skyline as I ride south. It’s like, hey, yeah, that’s my city.
In venturing back out onto the lake path, I discovered that one section of the path, just south of Fullerton Ave, had been blocked off and re-routed over the grass up the small hill for a stretch of about a quarter mile. This appeared to be because that section of the path ran right up against the edge of the lake and therefore was completely covered with sandy splashy crunchy (dangerous) shelf ice. This icy part has been slow to melt, even with these warmer days, but the re-route has been quick to turn into a giant, soupy, sludgy, icy, sandy, totally gross mess:
exhibit A, ew
There was really no option but to close your eyes and pedal your buns off (and wear your galoshes and pack and extra pair of pants, just in case). Exhilarating, maybe, not actually my favorite thing to do on my commute. The prospect of having to plant a foot in 3 inch-deep almost-frozen sludge is just not fun, not ever. It’s really been in just the last couple days (yeah, this blog is cutting edge) that the ice on the real path by the water has melted enough that it’s passable again (and I can wear my regular shoes). Joyfully, I rode the path into work this morning, with a light breeze at my back, and I made it in a record 18 minutes. Smooth. Beautiful. No mud soup. What more could you ask for?
Coming home today, that light breeze that had been at my back had picked up just a bit, and it was now in my face. I made my way ever so slowly north into the wind, thinking I should’ve maybe opted for city streets and a buffer this evening, but the lake is just so tempting… I tried my best to think it was beautiful when all I really thought was that it was windy, until I got to that stretch just south of Fullerton, where we can finally ride the path up by the water’s edge again. I noticed, much to my delight, that the path was wet, which meant waves were crashing along the edge. Oh how long it’s been since we’ve enjoyed waves crashing along the edge of the lake!
waves crashing along the edge of the lake, from back when it was warm... ah, those were the days.
I giggled to myself a little as I approached the spot, watching for wave crashes and wondering what it would feel like to get splashed (probably miserable, but what a fun and summery idea!). I made it through safe and dry, and as I passed I felt a big gust of wind and saw a wave crashing just behind me! I turned to look… and my turning combined with the gust of wind combined, most of all, with the frozen concrete (yeah, just ’cause the water in the lake is moving doesn’t mean it’s above freezing)… and oops, out went my back tire, and oops, out went my front tire along with it, and next thing you know, there i was, on the ground, with my bike on top of me and my u-lock about 10 ft up the road.
It was the perfect wipe out, really. That stupid head wind had me going so slowly anyway that I might as well have been standing still, and with the way the tires slipped out from underneath me, I slid so gently down onto the concrete that you might have thought that was how I always stopped my bike.
I stood up and stood my bike up. Deep breath. I checked the chain – it was still on. I spun both tires – still aligned, rims looked fine, fenders looked fine. I checked the brakes. They braked. I checked the pedals. They pedaled. I picked up my lock and hooked it back on my handlebar and hopped back on my seat and took off again.
By most counts I’m past due, really, for some sort of incident, given the number of miles I ride in a week or a season, and the kind of conditions I do it in. And I tell you what, if this is my incident, hey, I’ll take it.
And by the time I got home, I couldn’t even have told you what part of my body hit the ground – not a scratch or a bruise or anything. No mud, even.
For the record, my tired legs almost tripped and I did almost fall on my face walking up the stairs to the apartment. Always an adventure, isn’t it?