I commuted to work yesterday after a 3 week hiatus from serious riding brought on by downright inhospitable weather in the Northeast. My last recollection of so much snow in one season is 1993, but maybe my memory is influenced by other events that year; either way, there’s an awful lot of snow on the ground in New York.
The snow, by itself, is not a major concern in terms of bike commuting. My bike has fenders and I have knobby tires for it. The cold weather doesn’t scare me, nor does leaving the house in darkness. I worry a little about black ice, which is nearly impossible to see in darkness but that is not what has kept me off the roads lately.
Two things have confined my rides to short ’round the neighborhood jaunts. First of all, the roads in New York are absolutely trashed with pot holes. Most of the roads on my usual routes look like they’ve been shelled by artillery fire. I cannot understand why NY roads literally fall apart in the winter while roads in other Northeast states seem to survive much better. My commute involves a few major roads and crossing through the entrance ramps for two major parkways. The route is tolerable but it’s certainly not something you’d design into a weekend club ride or brevet. Busy, disintegrating roads don’t make for a pleasant ride particularly in the dark.
Oh how I yearn for some of the commutes that I see on Instagram, where people get to ride through the woods and over covered bridges!
The second reason I’ve been staying inside is……New York drivers. Take the crappy, busy roads mentioned above and add drivers who cannot control the speed or direction of their car in the snow and you have the necessary ingredients for getting run over. No amount of reflective gear or lighting will protect you when a car is sliding sideways toward you because the driver lost control on an uneven, icy surface.
The weather yesterday was nearly ideal for commuting, with the exception of the giant snow mounds intruding on the shoulder of the roads. It was 44 degrees when I left work at 6pm; the warmest it’s been since the end of January. It felt good to get the heart and lungs working again. There’s another polar vortex threatening the Northeast for next week. I only hope it will not bring more snow. I cannot bear to be off the bike for weeks in a row. It’s not good for my fitness or mental health.