Monday, December 5, 2011

Ice Ice Baby

Saturday marked the unofficial start to winter in Lincoln Nebraska. It started with freezing rain followed by four inches of snow. I went for a short ride on Sunday to see what it was like. There were quite a few sections of the MoPac west that were downright dangerous.

It seems like the city was caught off guard. The residential streets in my neighborhood are pretty much one big ice skating rink, 48 hours later. The bike trails are usually clean and dry within 24 hours with a few questionable spots, but this year it's the opposite: questionable with a few clean and dry spots.

It took 42 minutes to ride to work, about 15 minutes longer than usual. I only had to get off and walk once. (Rock Island, under the zoo entrance.)

The ride home took an hour and ten minutes. The ice melted and then refroze. Stretches that were okay on the ride to work had me slithering this way and that. Coming out from underpasses was particularly dicey, as those seemed to be the slickest. I didn't take any chances on the home stretch, I walked the bike over the 27th street overpass.

While I have Nokians, I haven't taken the time to install them yet. I'll probably bring them in from the garage to warm up and swap them out tomorrow.

Things I've learned about ice biking:

  • Breathe. I've been told by a few people that your body will not tense up if you keep breathing. You are more likely to stop the bike from falling if you're relaxed. 
  • Lighten up on the saddle and handlebars. Let the bike move a little bit under you. Even side to side.
  • Don't make sudden movements. Physics is not on your side.
  • Pedal slowly in a taller gear. This helps with staying light on the saddle and handlebars. It also reduces the mechanical advantage to the rear wheel, reducing the power lost to spinning your rear wheel on the ice. 
  • Low tire PSI. You want the largest possible contact patch, but not so low that the rim is riding on the pavement. You also want the tire to deform around imperfect ice, which helps keep the bike upright.
  • Learn to lean your body and not your bike when steering. I learned this the hard way. The nearly zero coefficient of friction combined with gravity tends to pull the bike out from under you, even if you have studded tires.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, the paths and side streets are brutal! I've been coming up RI (past the zoo... ಠ_ಠ) and just riding up Capital Blvd after that. Lincoln normally isn't very good about keeping streets clean anyways, but this is worse than usual. It's a mess!