Monday, March 10, 2014

All that stuff is water

Road crews have used heavy equipment to shove back the encroaching snowbanks along some sections of roadway where regular plowing had reached its limit. The towering piles of icy chunks look impressive, as do the dramatic icebergs at the sides of larger parking lots.

Even where the special effects have not enhanced the effect of a big snow year the regular plowed banks run wide and deep.

Another snowstorm is coming on Wednesday.

All that stuff is water. When it thaws rapidly, rivers flood and the land turns into a quagmire. When it thaws slowly, rivers merely rise and the land turns into a slightly shallower quagmire for a longer period of time.

For the bicyclist spring thaw means deep, salty puddles at the base of the snowbanks. It means wet, briny grit spraying up from your tires onto anything not protected by full fenders. It means potholes and pavement cracks. The frost heaves are much less of a problem for bicyclists than motorists because we can maneuver among them. The mostly rounded ones feel like waves. But the fault lines where upthrust has lifted one section of pavement higher than another deliver rim-bending jolts to the inattentive rider.

The rail trail I might use for a few early-season park-and-rides on studded tires will turn into a swamp once its packed covering of ice and snow gives way to warming temperatures. Sections of it drain well and dry readily, but other stretches notoriously do not. And if Wednesday's storm brings glop that never really sets up, the only way to pedal the path will be on a fat bike.

I will speak more of fat bikes in a separate post. I don't have one and can't justify the expenditure to get one, but I like the concept well enough. And even a fat bike will bog down in deep mashed potatoes and applesauce.

Time to head out on the pavement on a fixed gear with fenders. Wear waterproof shoes. Things are going to get messy. But before that we can still use the snow for its various purposes until it undeniably turns into nothing but a sloppy liability.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My young nephew had a school assignment to poll everyone he knew as to what was their favorite season. I was the only one not to answer Spring or Summer. I was the only one to answer Autumn. I was the only bicycle rider.