Trail Ramblings: Riding In Conditions Like These Just Makes You Stronger.

Kudos to all riding through these challenging last few weeks. By the tracks I see, there are quite a few of you. I hope you’re all keeping the rubber side down. Riding on this ice has been great for sharpening our bike handling skills. We’ve had freezing rain followed by snow the consistency of mashed potatoes, then wind which helped to make it nice and tough. The rain and melting snow caused a large back-up of ice water at 27th and Capitol Parkway on all corners that it was impossible not to put a foot down in while climbing over the large piles of snow dragging the bike to get to the curb. The day after this the underpass barricades came down, as the structure passed inspection I was told, but it wasn’t to be cleared right away so it hasn’t helped get through the intersection yet.

City worker removing barricades.

I like snow, don’t get me wrong. Some snows, the light and fluffy kind, are fun and easy to ride through. This was not that kind. This kind of snow felt like I was sawing through cardboard on my bike, if that makes sense. I could see that others felt the same way by the lack of tracks on the Salt Creek levee and Murdock limestone trails, as they don’t get cleared and you just have to power through them.

Murdock trail at 56th St.

The paved trails fared better since the city clears them in a fairly timely manner, but plenty of protected areas remained uncleared and unmelted despite their efforts and quickly became rutted, frozen ponds and black ice. There are areas of the new N Street cycle track that I’m worried might have drainage problems. Next to Pershing there was a large area of dammed up ice that was impossible to avoid.

n street ice
N Street cycle track next to Pershing auditorium.


I’m thiiiis close to getting studded tires on a spare wheel set. At least on the front that I can throw on in just these circumstances. Strangely, I didn’t find those conditions as dangerous as when I was fooled by a corner free of ice and snow on rougher asphalt (!) that had remained a little wet and was apparently in the process of re-forming invisible ice crystals after a warm afternoon. It’s easy to pick up speed and lay down your bike in these cases. And yet I still see riders without helmets.

dirty wet componentsWith all this messy slush I hope you’ve been keeping your bike wiped off and the chain lubed. I’ve had a little trouble with the chain freezing after getting wet and not wanting to bend, even after recently oiling it. As we continue to thaw over the next few days pay extra attention to all that crud accumulating on your derailleur and brakes, too. And you’ll be wanting to stay off of the dirt, and even the limestone and gravel until it dries out a bit. Just finding dry pavement right now is a treat, so go enjoy it!

2 thoughts on “Trail Ramblings: Riding In Conditions Like These Just Makes You Stronger.

  1. Chris

    The west end of N street had some drainage issues, too — it was pretty much a solid sheet from 9th to 7th. I laid my bike down on it there last Thursday. (The good news, I guess, is that my trailer hitch anti-tip mechanism works great!)

    One thing of note: the PBA pedestrian bridge was *much* better than the Haymarket Park bridge. I don’t know if this is always the case during inclement weather, but last week it was well worth the detour.

    • Janine Copple Post author

      I’ve noticed that too. Both the sheets of ice and the difference in bridges. I understand that the lack of storm sewer drainage on some blocks of the cycle track are due to the intent of the bioswales to capture and slowly drain rainwater. In winter this seems problematic, as it’s frozen and it’s in the shadow of buildings which slows down the melt even more. I’m curious how they can resolve this.

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