no commute like a snow commute

The last two days I've ridden my bike to work in the snow. Yesterday it was fairly enjoyable as the snow hadn't covered the roads in a way that also clogged the shoulders, so I had a reasonably safe place to ride on some parts of my route. That wasn't the case today. Today, after more than six inches of snow fell last night, part of my ride was rather rough. I'm hesitant about riding tomorrow, as enjoyable as a ride in the snow can be.

The tough part is right in front of my house for the two-plus blocks it takes to get to a major arterial. The arterials are pretty clear, and even if they have a bit of ice, the studs do the trick as long as I take it easy and don't go bombing down the hill. But those first couple of blocks are tough. Riding in the unpacked snow was all but impossible as the snow grabbed my front wheel and pulled me all over the place. Straight lines just weren't going to happen. I tried to ride on some packed snow, where cars had driven, but that wasn't packed enough. The packed upper layer gave way under the weight of me and the bike on the fairly skinny tires, and it was pretty much the same as being on unpacked snow. I imagine I looked like a rather shaky drunk as I rode. the snow, ice and slush gunked up my brakes and the first time I had to use them I nearly went into the road, in front of a car, but stopped, barely, just in time.

Getting to the main streets was a relief. All I had to do was be careful, more careful than usual of course, and just ride, keeping an eye on traffic. Only one idiot went zooming by, going way to fast given the road was covered in compacted snow and the temperature was just around freezing, making it not slushy, and not icy, but something in between and a combination of the two, depending upon the spot in the road. There would be no stopping on a dime. After that though, through downtown, along Sunset Boulevard (no sun today, just clouds and snow) and then Government Way, it was generally ridable and pleasant.

The only dicey part was along Government Way, climbing the hill by the cemeteries along the way. Snow had covered the shoulder several inches deep, so I had to stay further out in the road than I felt comfortable doing. A few times my front wheel started to slide out in front of me, and a few times my rear wheel spun out as I pedaled. More than once, or twice or thrice for that matter, I had visions of ending up on the snow covered ground. Thankfully, that didn't happen.

The ride home was pretty similar, though it was a bit warmer so the road was a bit slushier. I finally just about biffed when I turned onto the road in front of the house, only a hundred feet or so from home. I didn't actually fall, but ended up dropping my bike in the snow and jumping so I would land on my feet, which I did, but barely. I walked my bike home the last hundred feet or so and got in and out of the cold. I don't know that I'm going to do it again tomorrow, especially since they are expecting several more inches of snow tonight. While I wouldn't mind more riding in the snow, I'm not sure about some parts of my commute. Keeping in shape, if I'm not careful, might end up killing me, or getting me killed if I'm not careful enough or if some idiot driver isn't careful enough.