Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wintertime biking: It's not for me

As much as I love biking, I've never been big on it during the wintertime months.

I know plenty of people that do it year-round. I can also recall a story in the Free Press last year about a man who biked to work everyday, even when conditions outside drifted into sub-Arctic range. There's nothing I enjoy more than craziness on a bike, but when it comes to winter, I'd rather fall back on my car.

It's not so much a product of laziness as it is a fear for safety. My bike is a vintage (aka old) road bike with thin tires that handle bumpy, icy roads about as well as a dilapidated pair of rollerblades. Add in the fact that bike trails aren't plowed often, and that motorists have a slower reaction time to cyclists due to ice, and wintertime biking sounds more dangerous than it does fun.

I was reminded of this notion just last night, when a desire to get to the YMCA for a quick workout prompted me to take a chance on two wheels. My car was being used at the time by my girlfriend (her's is currently out of commission thanks to an icy road and an unforgiving curb) and I thought walking the eight blocks or so to the gym would take too long.

I barely even get out of my apartment's parking lot before being reminded of why I hate biking in the winter: My bike hit an unseen patch of ice on the sidewalk, swerved sharply and sent me toppling over into a snow bank. "This was a bad idea," I told myself as I picked my bike up off the curb.

The rest of the ride didn't feature any more embarrassing falls, but it was nerve-racking nonetheless. My tires spun out on numerous occasions, I biked at a deliberate pace to avoid ice and I had to bike in the middle of the road for most of the way because most sidewalks weren't shoveled. I kept yelling "Sorry!" at every car that had to swerve around me, even though they probably had less-than-kind words to say about me.

By the time I got to the Y, my hands were frozen, my feet were wet from snow and my desire to work out was replaced by a longing for my car. I probably got there faster than I would have walking, but it wasn't THAT much faster. Not surprisingly, the bike rack at the Y was bare beyond my two-wheeled companion. "Yeah, everyone else was smart and drove here," I told myself.

When I got back to my apartment, I chained my bike up and vowed not to take it out until the snow started to melt. More power to the people that can brace the winter elements on their bike, but it's not for me.

Blog update: I now have my personal best racing times listed on the right-hand side of my blog. This isn't because I think the times are impressive (believe me, I'm nothing special), but rather because it gives other avid runners a basis for comparison.

1 comment:

  1. Although last year & the year before that I rode this year I'm doing the same thing as you.