Thursday, December 10, 2009

When Considering Biking in the Snow

I have no ideas about biking in the snow. Sure, I know how to dress in the very frigid weather. I purchased Hot Chillys insulating leggings while in Colorado and they do the job. I also bought some NorthFace HyVent ski gloves and they do keep my fingers toasty. The real question plaguing me remain, can I ride my bike to work in the snow? I was hoping to build up to it . . . a 3 - 4 inch coating of snow that I could realistically practice on the urban trail on my very short ride to work. We got such a snow fall a few weeks ago but other factors required me to take the Element. Last week we get a second snow fall but it's a blizzard. I mean, really, a blizzard. We have 26 inches on the ground.

As one can see from these night shots I just downloaded, most sidewalks are covered. I mention that because most bike lanes are home to giant ice berms created by snowplows. The heavily used FUTS that runs from my neighborhood to the airport is completely covered, so my guess is that most of the other are similarly impassible.

We in Northern Arizona take water, be it from rain or snow, value precipitation but this could really impact my blog! I suppose I should have considered the months of December through March but I didn't. My husband gave me a kiwi Dell Studio laptop and logical thinking became impossible.

So, it is a puzzlement, as the King of Siam would say. The ladies from Let's Go Ride a Bike and Girls and Bicycles ride in the snow so what is stopping me? It could be the lack of an open urban trail at the moment or it could be the monstrously large SUVs driven overconfident drivers with little snow experience slipping and sliding along Flagstaff streets. I'd like to get past all that. Perhaps a little weekend practice is in order.

Last forecast I heard called for 3 - 5 inches this weekend.


Cap said...

You mentioned "my very short ride to work",.. how about "taking the lane" thats plowed by the city(its your street as well as the SUV's)...also some studded snow tires are in order(Peter White Cycles online)...really like your blog, good pics. Keep on blog'n!

CynthiaC54 said...

On the one hand, it's frustrating not to have those bike trails available - and it seems our "lanes" are always the expendable ones. On the other hand, as my friend Kirk keeps reminding us, "Every lane is a bike lane!"

On the third hand, given how oblivious the drivers of those SUVs are to us two-wheel folks a lot of the time, I can understand why it might be intimidating to venture onto the street if you're not already used to it! Better to practice out there when all is clear.

You have my deep admiration for even considering riding in that kind of snow! You go, girl!

rcp4 said...

Having lived in Flagstaff through some extremely snowy years (late sixties through early seventies), we understand your concern. When the snow banks on the side of the ride completely cover the cars, it's hard to figure out how to get to the street. I'd be wary of those crazy drivers who don't get to drive in snow very often too. I admire the people who can do it but ...

She Rides a Bike said...

I'm considering studded tires but they don't minimize the risk posed by careless drivers and those inexperienced at driving in the snow - and in this town with so many students from warm Phoenix and Southern California there are many. While I believe that I have a right to be on the road, my right makes me no less vulnerable to serious, life-threatening and costly injury. Unfortunately, most the ER doctors in the Flagstaff Medical Center's ER do not accept the insurance that most local employees carry. I have coworkers who have ended up with catestrophic bills following admission to the FMC ER. Bike commuting began largely as a solution to the very high cost of living in Flagstaff and deciding to take a break from bike commuting due to inclimate weather is, for me, a financial precaution. Hopefully, this week's warming temps will allow me a few days of biking to work. If not, I have the option to car pool with my husband.

Dottie said...

That's a lot of snow! Although I ride through the winter, I don't ride so much actually in the snow. In Chicago, the roads are plowed so quickly and heated by so much traffic - and even the bike path is plowed pretty regularly - that I'm not faced with much snow. The bike lanes usually are covered with snow and slush, so I often take the lane, but that is safer for me in the city where traffic is slower and more aware of cyclists. You could limit your riding to when there is not fresh precipitation; I find that much easier.