Last Chance

Wednesday afternoon, 1/25

This looks like it will be my last chance to ride the Zero for a couple of weeks as I will be going on vacation next week. So I get the keys from Randy and prepare to go downtown.

It has been snowing and it is starting to accumulate. The roads are wet, but slush is building up between the car tire tracks. It is thick enough to push the tires around a bit, and slick enough to offer little traction. With a little extra caution, I am able to complete my errands and return to work.

The side streets approaching Aerostich have a thicker build up of snow and I approach the Zero's docking station cautiously. Still, the back tire kicks out as I cross the little berm of snow on the slight incline of the driveway. It's all I can do to hold it up--I DO NOT want to be the first one to drop this bike. I manage to pull it together and ease it up onto the sidewalk.

2016-01-25 14.00.05 Snow is starting to accumulate

The snowy conditions add some difficulties to the riding, but the 30° temperature is no problem. What felt cold last fall feels quite warm now.

The ride home is pretty uneventful until I get to our alley. 2-3 inches of fresh snow has been added to the hard-packed ruts. I have very little experience riding on loose sand, etc. and all of that is on mountain bikes. The wheels are bucking left and right all on their own but I manage to keep them under me. Another successful trip--I remained upright!

Tuesday morning, 1/26

We got a couple of inches of snow last night and the snow is falling again this morning. Our alley got plowed this morning and it was much easier to navigate. The main challenge was plowing through the berms of snow at intersections. I took Superior St. today as it is one of the main arteries through Duluth. It is well traveled and in good condition this morning. Wet, but no real concern.

zero-crossingThings changed once I got west of downtown. Maybe traffic was lighter, maybe the snow was getting heavier, maybe it was a combination of the two. Now the snow is starting to stick to the roads. There is a particularly hairy interchange coming up. Traffic coming from the right is heavy and moving fast. They are crossing to the left to merge onto the highway. I'm coming from the left and want to cross to the right. Complicating matters is that slush is gathering right in the path I want to take. Pucker up and move across.

Conditions like this can be a real challenge and by the time I get to work, I feel like I have had a workout. I am tired physically and mentally, but also energized. Winter days are not always like this and I am even more convinced that commuting by motorcycle is a viable means of transportation for the winter. The weather and road conditions tend to fall into a fairly regular rhythm. The snow falls and the plows do their work, the roads are wet for a while, then they are clear and dry until the next major snow.

Most of the winter consists of these drier times and commuting by motorcycle is pretty normal. It takes a little longer to get ready, there are more layers to put on and take off. But it is the same with a car; it takes extra time to scrape and defrost the windshield... unless you are THAT person who prefers to drive down the road camouflaged as a snow drift.

While I am gone I will be thinking of getting back home to do some more riding.

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