Friday, February 24, 2006

Icy Commute

Here in the Puget Sound the winters are usually wet and the temps are above the freezing point. On the rarer times when it's below freezing, it's usually the result of a cool, dry, high pressure system. So mostly the roads are either warm and wet or cold and dry. But in the transistion points, when a cold high flows in to replace a warm low. the streets can become icy.

Last night it was 38 degrees and raining when I rode home. This morning it was 28 degrees and clear when I rode in to work.

Newport Way was icy. The hill down to Factoria was icy. The trail across the Bellevue Slough was icy. Mercer Island was pretty much one big sheet of ice. The I-90 floating bridge was, you guessed it, icy. The streets of Seattle were semi-icy.

I saw lots of cars, some sliding, some slid. I saw various bicyclists walking alongside their bikes. I saw various cautious pedestrians walking their remarkably sure-footed pets. I saw interesting tracks in the frost.

I never fell down. I spent an extra fifteen minutes being cautious. I was riding my fixed gear Kogwell model G. I knew exactly when the 28 mm Specialized Armadillos were and were not grabbing the road. With a fixed gear you feel what you have in terms of traction through your feet and legs. The second the rear tire slips, the pedals move a bit more than they should. It's instant feedback and it's a big advantage that a fixed gear bike has on the ice.

And the Kogswell is wonderfully well mannered. I liked the handling of this bike the first time I rode it and the past thousand miles have only increased my fondness for the geometry. When a bike works with your reflexes, you don't have to think about it. On a good day, you don't think about it at all. On a bad day, when the roads are slick, it's good to just think about the hazards and not about the bike.

Keep 'em rolling,


1 comment:

Mr. Karate said...

Wow this is fantastic information. I'm planning to commute year round, and this post helped me so much!

Thanks =)