The past two weeks has been an unusually snowy portion of the season. Denverites and other Coloradans have enjoyed close to 2 feet of snow from several separate storms.
Where could you find Business Casual Biker on these days?
Well, I was doing what I always do, riding to work every day without fail. Some of these trips were more challenging than others. On Monday morning of last week, I had an early start to my morning, needing to arrive at work at 7am. The prior afternoon, 7-8 inches had fallen, and there was an additional 4 inches of fresh non-packed snow from overnight.
Fortunately, I was quite prepared for the situation. I had been noticing a little extra resistance in the crank over the past week so the prior day I had pulled apart the crank and packed some fresh grease on the ball-bearings in my crank drive. I had also readjusted my front and rear shifters (derailleurs). Thus, my Chariot of Champions was ready to operate at maximum efficiency.
Furthermore, I knew that the extra snow on the road was going to add a little extra time to my commute. Snowy roads generally make your maximum speed about 2/3 of normal. Also, in these conditions, cars tend to be sliding all over the place so you have to be more careful crossing busy roads and also stop occasionally to let cars pass you by as dictated by the Golden Rule.
I set forth on my journey at about 5:40 am. In many ways this ride was incredibly pleasurable. The traffic was reasonably low. The busier streets had somewhat packed tracks from car tires which helped me move with little extra resistance. The side-streets were covered in non-packed snow which require some snow busting and thus a fair amount of additional work. I made it to work with time to spare.
As the week moved on, I had the pleasure of attacking a multitude of adverse conditions. All of which, I approached with prudence and vast knowledge from my years of riding in similar conditions.
Perhaps the most exciting of these conditions was on Wednesday evening when I departed from work in essentially “white-out” conditions. Visibility was limited to 20-50 feet. I was not particularly concerned as I used my standard approach to such conditions is roughly equivalent to all scenarios: AVOID ALL SITUATIONS IN WHICH A CAR COULD POTENTIALLY HIT YOU.
After riding a couple miles on side streets and stopping at all intersections, it was quite clear to me that the car-drivers basically could not see anything and their ability to stop in a reasonable distance was completely compromised. Several busy streets had been blocked off due to accidents and cars were at a complete standstill for miles throughout the city. This afforded me a great opportunity to pass miles and miles of single-file cars along the shoulder. There was minimal risk to this maneuver as the cars were not moving. I made it home in normal time despite reports from car-drivers I know that commute times were roughly quadruple the standard times.
Some might perceive all of this adverse weather commuting as some kind of reason to loudly proclaim that year-round bicycle commuting is impossible. This opinion would justify keeping a vehicle around for such situations, eliminating the possibility of reaping the full monetary benefits of bicycle commuting.
My experience has been that, indeed, such commutes requires a significant increase in effort and preparation. Furthermore, having many consecutive days of dealing with these conditions left me quite tired. On the other hand, when I arrived home on Friday evening of last week, what I felt in addition to the prominent fatigue was a PROFOUND LEVEL OF SATISFACTION. This is a satisfaction that most people who work in non-labor professions do not get to experience at the end of a week of work.
“I feel tired as hell, but look what I accomplished.”
I imagine this is what people who build homes or dig ditches or farm fields feel when they have finished their weeks or months of toil with sweat and dirt on their brow and look back at their work at the end of the day. It is a moment to oneself to fully appreciate how amazing and worthwhile all of the work was.
This is a feeling that middle aged professionals seek out in the form of marathon running or mountain climbing or gym-ratting. These folks spend tons of time, money and energy when what they are desiring can easily be delivered by simply riding one’s bicycle year round.
Tell us about your feeling of satisfaction after a difficult bike commute or how you overcome adversity in snowy weather by commenting below.
The weather in Denver has now turned around and we are looking forward to a sunny weekend with 60 degree weather. I hope you enjoy your weekend wherever you are in the world!
I want to take this opportunity to wish my wife, Mrs. BCB, a fabulous Birthday today! Happy Birthday! I Love You!