Me, My Bike and My Confidence Meet Mr. Snow-Miser

Week 3 – Day 1 – January 18, 2016

Weather: -9°C (with wind chill -20°C), Flurries and local snow squalls.  Local amount 10 – 15 cm.  Wind west 30 km/hour gusting to 50 km/hour. (Snow squall warning in effect). Roads were snow covered with reduced visibility because of snow and blowing snow.

Consistent Attire: As previously discussed.

Variable Attire based on the temperature: Sleeveless dress, MEC thermal fleece arm covers, Bula microfleece balaclava.

Winter in Ontario, Canada is never complete without a good snow squall!  Today was truly a winter wonderland.  When I looked out this morning I exclaimed to my husband what a beautiful day! Hearing no hint of sarcasm he asked you are kidding right? He further exclaimed surely you are not planning to cycle today?  I said of course I am planning to ride.  The snow creates a high traction surface and the trail riding in snow is incredibly beautiful!

In reflecting on today’s conversation with my husband I realize that in years past I would NEVER have ventured out on a bicycle in weather like today.  In fact many automobile operators do not even want to be out today!  What has changed? Many things including: me, my bike, my gear, my confidence, my desire to change my life and my keen interest to encourage others to consider ways to leave their car at home.

To account for a slower ride I allow my ride time to be about 1/3 longer than it would take in the summer months.  Today it was even longer because I had to stop for some interim bike alterations and some photo opportunities.

While tackling major roads, the sidewalk was my preferred cycling location.  In weather such as we have today, adding a car target, like a cyclist, to the roadway is very frustrating for drivers.  Being a driver, I know that and chose to cycle on the sidewalk.  I stopped at all crosswalks, dismounted and pushed my bike across.  Preventable collisions happen most frequently at intersections.  Please keep this in mind as you engage in our transportation systems.

Where the bike was concerned, my rear de-railer froze and I locked the chain when I tried to shift gears.  That was a fun experience that I would prefer not to repeat too soon.  This happened because I rode in slush yesterday.  The temperature in my garage dropped to -7 °C last night so the slush located in my rear de-railer froze.  I need to grease the bike up a bit tonight to ensure that this does not happen again too soon.  The frozen de-railer had a chain-reaction (pun totally intended) that resulted in a ride wherein I was stuck in one gear :-).  I was able to trouble shoot the problem while still within a block of my home.  I made the decision that I would ride in a “tougher” gear than I would have preferred.  I am Canadian…and willing to work harder in our Canadian winter.

It was a wonderful morning ride to City Hall! Four neighbours were out shovelling driveways, pre-heating cars and scrapping windshields.  I said good morning to all.  One neighbour hollered good for you! I responded with thanks and commented how lucky I am with no windshield to clear.

While riding the trails I met City of Waterloo staff who were busy clearing the trail to ensure it is accessible for all users.  I also caught up with the City of Waterloo 55+ hiking group also enjoying the trail.  I was again reminded that I am not the only one to use the City trails. IMG_20160118_094702

It continued to snow all day and riding in the dark on unlit trails can be very sketchy.  My commute home was initiated by partnering with Grand River Transit for a bus lift to Conestoga Mall.  I pushed my bike through the mall to the exit located in the direction of my home.  It was my plan to cycle home from the Mall on less travelled side streets and through community parks.  I did take this route, however, the mall parking lot had yet to be fully cleared, the roads were not easily passable, the park trail was not cleared, it was sheer ice under the snow,  and the sidewalk on the major road to my home had yet to be cleared.  So a huge SHOUT OUT to the home owners who had cleared the sidewalk in front of their homes.  Between riding on the cleared sidewalks and pushing the bike through snow drifts and the un-cleared park trail I made it home.  The commute tonight tested my resolve much more than my commute this morning.  It snowed a tremendous amount today and upon my arrival I shovelled the driveway and front porch.  My adult boys had previously shovelled so the work was not as significant as it could have been.

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One comment

  1. bribikes · January 21, 2016

    Great post! I loved reading about your day; the excitement you had to see the snow outside, greeting neighbors on your bicycle and riding home in the snow even in the dark. Winter biking is something very special 🙂

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