What is the MS 365 Project?

The MS 365 Project is a celebration of my 20th year with Multiple Sclerosis and the active lifestyle that I have used in my fight against MS. This year long project will hopefully raise money for the Can Do MS organization and raise awareness of how strenuous activity can help in the fight against MS.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Dancing in the snow

Good on ya, Lenoir! The greenway got lots of snow visits.

 We got a heavy snowfall for this area, yesterday.  Fine, fat, fluffy flakes dropped lazily throughout the day, ultimately accumulating into about 6 inches or so of very nice powder on the ground.

Our roads were blanketed with snow and few people were out traveling.  School was closed, so Golden and I had a day off from teaching.  We decided to close the bike shop to discourage people from driving unnecessarily. And so I found myself with an opportunity to go do a bike ride in the snow.

Temperatures were brisk; never getting much above the upper 20's.  I decided to stay close to home (and warmth), so I thought it would be fun to go do a 'cross bike ride on the greenway.  Jack Brown decided to join me and off we went, late in the afternoon.

Jack Brown - he slid around but didn't fall down!
The roads had been plowed, which around here means that some asphalt may peek out of expanses of snowy powder punctuated with large areas of compacted snow that is better described as corrugated ice.  We rode along, each of us on two skinny knobby tires, constantly watching for ice and always shifting balance to remain upright and moving forward.

Gotta dress for success
We hit the greenway and found a carpet of white powder with a few footsteps in it.  We immediately accelerated, riding fast with the satisfying crunch-squeak of new fallen snow under our tires.  Snow can be amazingly deceptive.  Here in 6 inches of fresh powder our tires gripped with the sureness of velcro.  Where people before us had walked, there was a compaction tending towards ice that led to wariness on our part, but no actual problems, either.

As the temperature dropped, we noticed a bit more sliding, but the icy layer was under the powder and looked no different from anything else we rode on.

Traction was much better than you would think.
Riding on snow is a bit of a dance.  You ride lightly, keeping your body loose.  As you feel the bike shift in the snow and ice, you move yourself around to maintain your balance, but always subtly and slightly.  Huge, sudden movements are bad.  You can anticipate some of the more obvious potential dangers like the large icy patches that develop at stop signs and stop light from people spinning their wheels when they stomp the accelerator to put their car in motion.  But you can't anticipate them all.  You have to be open to shifting conditions and react to the best of your ability without overdoing it.  Over correction is just as bad as not doing anything at all.

Riding in the snow, you cut a new path for yourself, anticipate big problems, adjust for the myriad small problems that are thrown at you, all while constantly and thrillingly moving forward.  There aren't too many things that are better than that.

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