I've been sifting through the other bike commuting blogs learning what I can from the experience of others who pedal through and over snow and ice. But really direct experience is always the best teacher.
Last Saturday at the Flagstaff Athletic Club, while doing a lower back extensions for the purpose of strengthening my "core", I pulled a muscle in my lower back. Son-of-a-bitch! I wasn't doubled over in pain but knew I'd need to act fast in order to prevent cramping and immobility from setting in. I hobbled as swiftly as I could to the front desk and asked for an ice bag, which I put just inside the band of my skort. Movement being key, I climbed on to the treadmill for 30 minutes, proud that I wasn't wallowing in self-pity but irritated that my plan to bike to work this week would be delayed. After a week of ice alternating with heat, stretches, the treadmill and the TENS unit I felt confident enough to venture out on the mostly clear streets and urban trail at mid-day. The temperatures had climbed into the mid-40's my 1:30 and the sky, as usual for Arizona was sunny. A perfect day for being on the bike with only a few easily removed layers.
Since my Breezer lacks studded tires and I initially worried about getting over the areas where the trail was still covered. Luckily, the walkers and mountain bikers had fairly well in the last two weeks compacted the snow so that I never got stuck. Knobbier tires doubtlessly would have negotiated the rutty snow covered places better than the smoother Breezer tires but I quickly learned that the trick to successfully pedaling over the snow and ice is the slow down slightly before entering the icy sections and keep pedaling. The few times that I slipped and slided I had neglected to pedal but was able to quickly recover. Occasionally, I came across a serious snow covered decline in the path and elected to walk my bike down, as I am still protective of reinjuring my back.
When I go out on my bike I like to have a purpose and destination. Today's was to purchase good bread and cheese for a night by the fire with my husband and Season 2 of Lost. Bob never got drawn into Lost and I let it fall off my radar after we moved to Flagstaff so while he gets up to speed for the new season, I am taking a refresher course before I pick back up at the tail end of Season 4. Anyway, back to bread and cheese, there is no mode of transportation more appropriate for fetching bread and cheese than a really elegant bike. The Workcycles Oma would probably be the optimal choice but since I do not (yet) own an Oma the Breezer Uptown 8 is more than a suitable substitute. (Quite frankly, the Breezer is probably the bike of choice if picking up a California wine, so I don't mean to imply that one bike is better than the other . . .)
I decided to run my the new Sawmill development where the Wildflower Bread Company was having a grand opening party and buy a loaf or two of whatever they had. I arrived just before things wound down so the staff gave me a complimentary loaf of Ciabatta. Oh, goody. We're already starting off our relationship on a good note.
Leaving the store, I couldn't help notice how attractive and appropriate to a mountain tourist oriented community was the architecture. The metal patinaed siding, stone and stained wood reminded me of what I saw in Teluride/Mountain Village in Colorado. Flagstaff could use more of that to pretty it up. Like many development projects that got started just prior to the economic meltdown, Sawmill has stalled out. Too bad; I hope it gets back on it's feet somehow because it definitely is a bike and pedestrian friendly plan. Certainly, bicyclists and walkers count among the customers of New Frontiers Natural Food Store, the first business to open at Sawmill. I entered the grocery store for cheese and more bread (you can never have too much) and could see I wasn't the only person to travel there on a bike. But of course the full bike rack easily gave that fact away before I even stepped inside.
I found my bread, cheese and a jar of fig spread and hit the road. I decided to take the long way round in order to visit the shipping container house. Since transferring to the airport I hadn't been able to follow the progress of the house and wondered if the snow had brought work to a halt. Au contraire. Work proceeds. The exterior has been painted a green patina shade and it appeared some interior work had been done in preparation for insulating the structure.