The Ride Thus Far
After a couple of weeks riding the metro, back in late November, or whenever it was that we got our first snow, I made the choice to ride my bike into work all winter. I had done it before. I had been a bike messenger for two years. So I had a pretty good idea of what it entailed.
I’ve been using a fixie, basically a converted road bike, which was the first road bike I ever raced on, into a bike with one front brake and one gear that is fixed. There is no free wheeling.
This turned out to be an advantage in the winter as I can brake with my feet by back pedalling and not having to rely on my front brake. Because of all the snow and ice that had accumulated, the front brake, on many days, was nearly useless .
I won’t begin to tell you how much I spent in terms of clothing to keep dry and warm. But I probably could have done it for much cheaper then I had.. But I figured, if I was going to ride in the snow and slush, I might as well do it in semi-style.
For the most part, it’s as I remembered it. Not as cold as some might think. Nowhere near as dangerous as the people that I work with think. Yes, there are days where 10+cm of snow has fallen and it’s tricky as all get out to steer straight. But for the most part, the roads are relatively safe and sometimes even dry.
Motorists too I found are much more forgiving in the winter then in the summer. Of course 2-3 times a week I get some meat-head boomer driving an SUV who hasn’t quite realized that I have as much right to be riding the roads as he. Hell, even more if you factor in the costs to the environment.
The trick to riding in the winter is you have to take up whatever space you feel you need to be safe. This is generally where some motorists get their knickers in a bunch. If the side of the roads have deep packed snow, riding in it would most likely result in a crash and ending up under someone’s wheels. So I have to take up a little more of the road then I would in the summer. This means that cars have to drive around me. They can’t always just drive past.
But you’d be surprised at the care most drivers take. Trucks go very wide, as do city buses. When I arrive at a light, I make sure to stay behind them and not wheel in front. They showed me the courtesy of not riding over me, I’ll let them stay ahead so that they don’t have to come around again.
Three days ago, after getting 10cm, I had to ride up Amherst to get home. From Viger to Sherbrooke it was packed solid. I was able to casually pass all the cars and trucks and get up in less then 10 minutes. Arriving home, I flipped on the radio where Radio Canada’s traffic reporter stated that it was a 45 minutes from Viger to Sherbrooke along Amherst.