Thursday, April 06, 2006

It Seemed Like a Good Idea

Yesterday was my first workday since the start of Daylight Saving Time. I was eager to put the car up on blocks and shift over to the bike.

Tuesday, sleet, snow and rain plastered New Hampshire, bringing as much as ten inches to Pinkham Notch, lesser amounts in other northen and mountain areas, and a slushy couple of inches to my neighborhood, even on the road. But I'd seen it change over to rain by evening.

When I looked out Wednesday morning, my road looked clear. The pavement was slightly darkened. I knew that would be ice, but probably in small enough patches for me to ride between them to get to the more major roads with better sun exposure.

Things started well enough. The ice was just dots, like isolated frozen raindrops. The sun was coming up in a clear sky. Conditions improved as I went forward.

Out at Route 16, the road was clear. A friend who's been pulling some hours at the shop was just driving by. I made a note to bust him about driving when he could ride almost my exact commute. I also noted he had a lot of frozen snow still stuck to the top of his car. Had we gotten that much?

On Route 28 the climbing starts gradually. After a mile or two of clear sailing, I looked up the grade to see the snow covering the shoulder. The shade of the trees had kept the sun off it. Nothing had melted since it fell. In fact, it had set up hard overnight. The temperature had been 29 degrees when I started. It was probably still below freezing in these forest shadows.

The crusty snow forced me further and further to the left. I felt the tires slithering on the ice, diverted by the lumps of frozen snow. This was not good. I actually stopped completely to take stock.

At this point I was about halfway to work. I could either continue forward as best I could, or turn back to get the car. I figured I would be less late if I went forward. Conditons had to improve once I got down from the height of land.

Times like this make a bike riding fool glad to live in a fairly sparsely populated area. Not too many people drove by me while I was stuck out in the travel lane of a state highway, and the ones who did were remarkably polite. I didn't have to hike in my cleats after all.

Conditions did improve where I thought they would. I was only a few minutes later than usual.

When I saw my friend I said, "I was going to bust you for driving to work today, but I think you should bust me for riding instead."

The weather closed back in by mid afternoon, with wet snow and rain. I got a ride home with my friend.

At least I saved a day's worth of gasoline.

April is almost always like this, especially after a snowless winter. Every snowless winter I've gone through here has been followed by a nasty April. Of course in a snowy winter we'd still be cross-country skiing now. An April storm would just be more of the same.

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