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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Cold Snap, Cold Virus

from Bikeportland
Well, readers, we seem to be getting an honest-to-goodness cold snap here in the Portland area. It started mid-week last week and has been going on until about now. A cold snap in Portland during the winter usually means sunny weather (yay!) and daytime temps somewhere around freezing to a few degrees above, with temps plummeting into the mid-upper twenties F (about -4 to -2 C). (Nighttime temps rarely drop below freezing in winter.) Yeah, it's not as bad as it in other places. I hear Los Angeles is having a tough time right now.

Anyways, there are two general weather conditions for our cold snaps: the first one is it will be bone dry with a stiff cold wind out of the east. The other is the air in the valley is trapped and not moving, meaning moisture condenses and forms fog, which gets the road surfaces wet, and then freezes. The latter is what's been happening as of late, as you can read many a horror story on BikePortland on the Friday commute, or Stasia's sketchy ride into the West Hills.

Me? I didn't have any problems thankfully. Part of it is I'm a bit of a realist to these things, and I know what happens when conditions are right. I'm also a bit of a weather geek and check in a few times a day, so I knew that come Friday morning conditions could be shit. I took it slow on my 1 1/2 mile to work. There were spots that looked like they could have been slick, but my tires never lost traction. It was a bit scarier coming home from work on Saturday night due to the darkness, but my headlight on the bright setting did a good job of illuminating the road ahead, and the road ahead was dry.

Now I could have gone through the whole trouble of putting a studded front tire on my Crested Butte (or my Long Haul Trucker) but I didn't want to. I think the easiest solution would be to find a nice used wheel with the same rim width and keep the studded tire mounted to that, so when I have an icy morning to deal with I could swap a wheel in minutes vs. spend a long time switching tires.

Thankfully the cold-snap season doesn't run too long around these parts. It's already mid-January and I don't remember too many after this point in the winter. February starts to see the first effects of spring, a happy relief. Now I'm not saying its impossible for us to have icy roads in February, but it's down the likelihood scale.

That's all well and good, if I didn't get a cold the other day. Ugh. Thankfully, it's not the full-on flu, but it's been doing a good job of draining my energy. I actually called into work on Monday, in which I was in bed much of the day. While it's good to deal with a cold in this way, I can't stop thinking about all the things I need to get done. Wonder if stress made be susceptible to the virus? I don't know. All I know is I'm going to blow my nose for the umpteenth time today, make some tea, and go to bed.


  1. Do you not need a studded tyre on both wheels?

  2. @dexey - If you're riding on ice and snow regularly, it is nice to have one on both. But if it is a rare condition like the one described here, a studded front tire can prevent slips while turning, which is how ice takes you down 90% of the time. When your rear wheel slips or slides sideways a bit, it rarely results in a fall (at least for me).

    Your pre-mounted studded wheel is a super idea. Some people seem to be able to swap tires in no time, but I'm not one of them, and when you've got to get out the door...

    1. Rantwick, thanks for having my back there. Yep, back skids and slides are mostly recoverable, front ones never. I used a stud-in-front setup during Snopocalypse 2008, and I think I back slid once. I'd go for both tires studded if we really saw "real" winter around here, but we don't.

      As for tire changing, I find the Rubenas on the Crested Butte come off and on easily, so that's not the problem. The problem is the studded tire, as they are thick and hard to bend. (And if you try to bend them with your bare hands, yeowtch!)


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