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Defeated by Ice

Headed down the backside of Westnedge hill this morning all suited up and raring to go on my morning commute. I got to my big scary downhill run and began riding the brakes to slow down before the descent. I unfortunately immediately locked out and slid on to the side of my bike and then proceeded to slide all the way down the hill on my side. It felt sort of cool actually like a dirt track racer, skidding down the entire hill on my side. After all the rain we had yesterday, and then the following cold temperatures, I decided that today it was ok to drive. If you crash less than a mile from your home on ice on Dec 12th, I’d say you toughed it out right. Or am I a giant weenie for driving?

Problem is- Westnedge hill is indeed a hill at all four points of the compass in Kalamazoo. You have to descend the hill at some point to get anywhere. The streets to use off the hill where there is little traffic ironically also have the issue of no salt, and no traffic to keep them clear. So my morning commute in winter consists of a white knuckled descent into a hairpin turn onto Burdick. In summer it’s sweet. I cruise down the hill, hit the turn at full speed; balls out to the wind, slow for traffic and then high tail it to work. In winter it’s a technical descent on a sheet of ice. Once you make it off the hill the streets are usually clear. I suppose I could *walk* my bike to the bottom. But that just seems silly.

2 Comments

  1. Oh hey, I’m glad you didn’t get hurt too bad. I cringe thinking about cracking an elbow or knee.

    Maybe you should walk it some days. Make that decision before you leave so you be tempted by adrenaline when you get to it.

  2. I’ve found out that snow plows pushing along at 60mph and just out of an arms reach scare the crap out of me.

    I told myself when I started commuting by bike that I wouldn’t have to ride every day but gave myself a minimum of 3 days a week. This summer I rode nearly every day and even took the long way home of 10 miles.

    But then the gales of Nov. came. My commute is a pretty straight shot north and south. Being so close the the lake some mornings I had to drive to avoid a 40mph headwind. But then I had those days where I had a 40mph south tailwind and I would cruise along at dangerous speeds for miles, then the afternoon it would turn north and I’d get the same treatment on the way home.

    But yeah some days you gotta hang it up and drive. For me it’s 5 miles one way at 5:30 in the morning so adverse conditions can add a lot of time.

    But I’m hanging in too. Today was very nice. I’ve found my old Huffy with the cyclocross tires is performing quite well. I’m glad it’s a POS because it’s covered in salt dust and starting to look pretty bad. I think the longer wheelbase has added stability on ice too.

    Anyway, I think we’re doing alright.

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Defeated by Ice