Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Overcoming my winter biking fears

One of my New Years resolutions this year is to toughen during the winter months and learn to bike through snow and ice.  When I say toughen up, please understand that I've set the bar incredibly low on this one.  We didn't have an especially impressive snowfall on Monday, maybe about three inches, and most of what was on the road, had melted.  Generally though, if even the slightest bit of snow and ice are present on the road, bike lane or multiuse path, I hitch a ride in the car with my husband, also an inclimate weather wimp.  We're both trying to work on this one.
Winter weather riding doesn't mean I have to dress for a blizzard. The pants are lined and I wore thin wook socks.
At the moment, I can't afford the studded tires that I've been promising myself for the last couple of years so I'm relying on the confidence that for me usually comes with being well dressed,
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along common sense riding behavior and bike accessories.

Planet Bike blinkie light for visibility.
LaserLiteLane for extra visibility.
When traveling over road that looks like this. . .

Would it be appropiate to ask the homeowners on either side of this short stretch to shovel the street?
the idea is to keep pedaling at a steady pace and avoid breaking.

Easy to pedal during the mid-day melt but quite challenging during my morning and early evening ride.
The bike lanes was mostly covered with jagged, rocky chunks of frozen snow so  I had to pedal in the main part of the road, as far to the right as safely possible, checking my rear view mirror from time to time.  I also made sure both my rear blinky lights were turned on to maximize my visibility.

Only an eight minute ride to m workplace, I made without incident.  I noticed along the way that other  morning commuting cyclist who I typically see on my morning ride in was nowhere to be seen.  He rides a mountain bike, always speeding past me with a wave and friend "Hello".  I wonder if he  was on a different schedule this morning or, like me, feels intimidated by the ice and snow.  If so, just how much does it take for him to throw in the towel and grab his car keys?  I've seen him biking to and from work for several months now and he looks like a pretty serious sports cyclist so I'd be curious as to whether or not he is even slightly a fair weather rider.  Something tells me that crazy bicycle lady with a camera will be making an appearance sometime soon to get the answer to this question.

Mocha update. . .
I regret to report that Bob and I lost Mocha early Tuesday morning.  Mocha refused to nurse Daisy; I suspected a developmental delay in his sucking reflex.  He lost weight and body temperature,  and developed an eye infection.  Under the care of the veterinarians and staff at Westside Veterinary Clinic he showed steady improvedment in all areas, and we learned to bottle and tube feed him, take his temperature and respond to his crying effectively. 

Mocha, day one.
He was a little fighter, and by Monday morning Bob and I were sure that Mocha had turned the corner for good and that within nine weeks we'd be sendings a happy, healthy puppy to his new family.  Unfortunately, sometime Monday he developed an infection in his GI track.  Our vet said that although she could revive him with fluids the prognosis was not good and he would be in considerable pain.  Bob and I could not let him suffer.

Day eight with Daisy and me after a successful tube feeding.
Bob admitted to me later that when he first saw Mocha's image on the sonogram he was filled with hope.  Despite the vet's warning that pups from first litters and very young mother's had a poor survival rate, for Bob, Mocha symbolized a determination to overcome disappointment, setbacks and obstacles - something very important to us at this time. 

Bob with Mocha, who liked being swaddled in a chenille sock.
Bob was certain that he and I could help Daisy care for her baby so that he would thrive, whatever the odds.  Bob said he worried that somehow he had let Mocha down but remembered that in his final moments, Mocha started to open his eyes for the first time.  He hoped that Mocha saw that we were there for him.  I, on the other hand, and certain that through our scent and touch that Mocha was aware of our presence and felt safe.


Jimio said...

That is really sad about Mocha. I know you guys tried your best. On the subject of winter riding, yes lots of times bike lanes, paths, paved trails never get shoveled off and I tend to stay off snow covered lanes as much as possible, but what really irks me is even many people dont shovel their sidewalks and that leaves the last refuge of the streets that are very busy and/or very dangerous. But I know if I ride in winter I must accept the clearest path possible so I try to stay on the slowest non-busiest roads I can. *Ride Safe* PS I see you ride very safe with those nice lights

anniebikes said...

I'm sad about Mocha. My thoughts are with you...

As for the winter biking, it's not for everyone. Only you know what feels safe. Riding way out there in the lane that's clear of ice and snow poses it's own problems whether we are entitled to that space or not. Be safe.

SS:Mntbiker\Olskoolrodder said...

I am so sorry to hear about Mocha,my friend,really I am. Moonlight,our K9 companion was borm on our porch October 13,2010,along with 8 siblings. Through that winter (and yes they were all inside dogs that year,it was a cold winter),one by one they began dying off. Of those,the runt's death (Brownie,so named by my son who became his best friend,partly because he feels a kindred spirit with all runts,being small) was the hardest to bare-eventually there were 3 left,one we found a home for and two we kept as outside friends.

Once the house fire hit (THANKFULLY on the "outside friends",eh?) last June and we had to move,we had to leave them in my Grandparent's care (they were our next door neighbors) for several months before we finally settled in here,and brought them into our new home. Blackberry (the one my daughter clung to like glue) eventually attacked my Wife,so we had to find a farm for her to go to,leaving-out of 9 pups,only Moonlight (who does NOT like the mail-carrier,or anyone getting too close to her 'pack',LOL).

The point of this long-winded comment (this half :p ) is to tell you,when I say I'm sorry to hear of Mocha,believe me when I tell you I understand your pain and know that I mean it,my friend.

On the winter cycling...with some of my injuries having increasingly more severe (from moderate at 30 degrees to pretty bad below 15 or so,to dangerous-due-to-circulation issues with that hand below that) as the temps drop,I can no longer go out and enjoy the cold riding-at least not as often as I used to. Tire pressure and selection are crucial-though it can be a fun and very rewarding ride despite the cold,have fun with it :)

Anniebikes: Of COURSE you are entitled to it,you pay taxes don'tcha? :)

OldBikeRider said...

Condolences. Sorry to hear about Moca's unfortunate path.
It's always amazing how strongly we're wired to care about life close to us. I'm glad you still have Daisy!

Melanie Suzanne said...

I'm so sorry. Poor little guy. I hope you are all okay.

EcoCatLady said...

I'm so sorry to hear about little Mocha. It's so hard to lose them, no matter what the circumstances.

Where winter biking is concerned, it's funny... as a kid I had a paper route so I had to ride my bike every single day come rain, snow or whatever. I don't recall being afraid of it. Then when I was an exchange student in Norway, I rode to school all through the Norwegian winter.

But now, as an adult... it scares the pants off of me! I'm not sure if it's because I'm now thoroughly aware of my mortality, or if it's something else.

In Norway things were always frozen solid, so it was only packed snow and there were no patches of ice to contend with (because the ice only forms if it gets warm enough for it to melt and then re-freeze). And the paper route deliveries took place around 5am, when things were also pretty solid, though there must have been ice.

I dunno... perhaps I've just become a wimp in my old age! In any case, I admire your bravery. I've only been out once since November.

Ben said...

I've been checking out studded tires at bike tires direct. These are $35 each, the chepaest i've found. HOpefully i'll get a pair soon...

She Rides a Bike said...

Ben: I'm shooting for Schwalbe studded tires since I've heard they are very durable and the studs don't pop off as much as on other brands. My problem at the moment is deciding on which bike get them as well as my bike needs in the next 12 months as they might be changing depending on possible changes in my life.

I traversed some particularly knobby frozen snow on Friday night and took my first fall. No injuries sustained but I did look around to see if anyone witnessed me and my bike falling over.

Thanks everyone for your thoughts about losing a pet. So far Daisy appears to have most bounced back although we've found her three times crying and trying to open up the door of the large cabinet where we had set up Mocha and his bed. Daisy had been allowed to cuddle with him for short periods under our watch and to clean him. We had to life her up to the shelf where we kept him and let her sniff around for him. Sad and sweet at the same time. In any case, it doesn't surprise me that my fellow cyclists also have big hearts for animal friends.

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