Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Dodge Plow

There are few things that scare me while riding. A couple of times, I was out on epic, solo rides in far away places when I ran out of daylight. One of those occasions was in the desert near Tucson and coyotes started gathering around me. At the time, I didn't know they were just "riding" with me and having fun. But past sundown with no light and not near my car, scared I was. Another time was near Pasadena. I underestimated how long a ride would take, ran out of daylight, only to find a bridge across a gorge I absolutely had to cross was missing. I rock scrambled down into the gorge, hiked downstream in the stream a long ways before I found a place I could climb back up on the other side. I got back to my car when it was dark out. I was just a little panicky.

Did you ever play dodge ball when you were a kid? Maybe kids don't play that anymore. Playing dodge with echelons of snowplows can get the adrenaline going better than the kid's game. Not wanting to break with my weekly training regimen of skiing Weston Tuesday night, riding hard Wednesday at lunch, I had no choice but to suck up what Mother Nature dealt me today. Snow was falling at about 2-3" per hour at lunch time before it changed over to rain. It was that dense, not good to to ride in at all kind of snow. I bet it would have been spectacular to skate on.

The side roads were completely unrideable. I tried cell tower hill, but the 4" of new snow over ice didn't work. I spun out before I got to the steep part and turned around. Gaining speed coming down the lower portion of the climb, I realized my tires weren't even really doing anything. They were just skidding along on snow that was sliding on the ice underneath. That unstable situation promptly ejected me into the snow bank. I'm sure when I came to rest, I was completely submersed in powder. Snow found all kinds of ways to infiltrate my layers of clothing. The only good thing was that had to be the softest impact crash I've experienced.

Heading back out to the roads with paved shoulders, I noted Industrial had recently been plowed. Miss number one. Longer Continental Blvd still was not plowed. I did two laps up and over the big hill on Industrial. In that 20 minutes or so, an inch of dense snow fell, enough to make the shoulder hard work. On my second lap, the plows came through Continental. Miss number two. So I did out and back on it before they came through for a clean-up pass. I was constantly looking back. Heading back to the office on Industrial, the plows had not been through again and it was getting tough to ride. Where could they be? Right behind me! You know how they form an echelon, curb to curb? That's what I was faced with. Fortunately a Fidelity entrance was coming up and I darted across to the other side. You have to constantly be looking over your shoulders when riding while it is snowing out. I doubt snowplow operators find spandex clad freaks in their way very humorous. Cyclist? What Cyclist? They'd find me in May when the last of this snow melts.

I managed to ride 80 minutes with around 45 minutes of solid threshold effort mixed in. Amazingly, there was another dude out there in this mess, on a hardtail with neon yellow windshell just like me. Too bad we were going opposite ways with a barrier in between us. I wonder who it was?


rick is! said...

nice. I've only once had to dodge plows. I love to ride when it snows but it's just so frickin scary. last week I got "spoken" to by a plow operator that I was drafting off of. it was good times til he got pissed.

Mookie said...

Do you think a Pugsley would have fared a whole lot better? Kudos on getting out. I was relegated to, ehem, the trainer.

plum said...

We took turns breaking trail at Bear Brook last night with backcountry skis, and after 2 hours, we were zombies. Too wet. But I prefer it to a chance encounter with an ornery plow drivers or worse, most car drivers. You're brave.

Hill Junkie said...

I think Pugsleys shine when conditions permit floating on top of the snow. Not sure the dense new stuff I was riding in would have been much better with a Pugsley. I'd really like to try one sometime.

Big Bikes said...

Twice this winter I've seen plow drivers (the private contractors in their pick up trucks) blatantly blow through a solid red light near my house. I'm not talking about as the light changed, I mean the light was red for a good, long time. They've got me paranoid, stopping at green lights, the jerks!

You know about
this guy's plow story? Pretty crazy.