Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Commute of Death

It snowed here like crazy during the day on Sunday and then rained for a few hours leaving us ice/slush covered roads on Monday. I had planned (as I always do) to ride in on today so I had to figure out a safe way to do so. I decided to put a more road friendly gear on the SS El Mariachi and give her a shot. I figured the El would handle the nasty conditions better than a road bike with 23c tires.

This morning I woke to find it a balmy 7 degrees outside but thankfully the gale wind that blew all day yesterday had died down so I bundled up (a bit more after last week's near frost bite on the fingers and toes) and headed out.

The pucker factor was high on the side roads where 75% of the road surface was still ice covered but thankfully there was a thin layer of gravel on top so it was rideable but you had to be on your toes. Route 1 was pretty much clear so no problems there.

Unfortunately, my luck ran out once I was back on the side roads where I tore the valve stem off the tube of my front tire. I am here to attest that changing a tire in the dark when it is below 10 degrees totally sucks. Add to that a mini "it takes a thousand pumps to inflate a 29'er tire" pump and noticing 3/4 of the way through pumping that one of the beads has popped off so you have to start all over again and you end up with a fifteen minute nightmare. Once I was back on the road again my feet were freezing so I decided against my better judgement to hit up the Schmidt Preserve trails to try to warm up again. I knew that portions of the trail would be unrideable because of Sunday's storm but I figured at least half would be packed by snowmobiles. Maybe not.

10 feet into the first trail I knew I was in for a nasty time and that I should really just turn around and finish the commute by road but I've never considered myself a quitter so I forced myself to continue on because I was certain I'd be able to ride at least part of the trail and plus, the walking was warming my feet. About 25 minutes of post-holing in 16" snow with a 1/2" crust on top later I came to the first intersection that I expected snowmobile traffic. Of course there was none. I was too far into the walking to turn back so I trudged on kicking myself for being so stupid but also kind of revelling in the adventure. After another 35 minutes of post-holing to the EXTREME! I was finally out of the woods and riding the final few miles to the office with my tail between my legs after my 50 minute commute turned into a 2:15 death march.

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