Thursday, January 19, 2012

Bad idea, good fun

2012's measly Portland snowfall occurred for five hours between Wednesday night and the wee hours of Thursday morning. After a 10pm dog walk through my Southeast neighborhood, I threw on the usual pile of wool, SIDIs and a helmet and embarked on my short-in-mileage, long-in-amusement trip to Forest Park and Leif Erickson trail.

Given Portland's poor driving reputation in wintry weather, the roads were mercifully empty as I made my way over the Hawthorne Bridge and through downtown. After quickly learning to not lean into turns and instead keep my wheels as close to parallel to the earth as possible, the ride passed by without incident. I even was able to pause for a staged mid-street shot in the Pearl District (which was mostly ruined by my sash, but you get the general idea):

And, of course, the typical camera-at-arms-length pose (this time, though, not attempted while in motion):

And, before I knew it, I was on Thurman Street. In my utter lack of forethought, though, I hadn't really considered my improvised handlebar/camera bag -- and, specifically, its ability to hold up in the weather:

To my pleasant surprise, though, it proved itself to be waterproof-ish (at least when I remembered to keep the lid closed). So up I went along Thurman, happy to have the street to myself when I teetered over in a one-mile-per-hour "crash". The bike and myself got up with no lasting harm done; unfortunately, unclipping from my pedals and walking a few steps to reposition the bike was all it took to completely clog my shoe's cleats into a mass of ice:

So I walked a ways, 'til there was a suitable spot for gouging the ice off my shoes with my keys, then was kinda-sorta-not really clipped in and able to reach the gates of Forest Park:

Unfortunately, my vague belief that I would find better traction in snow-covered-dirt than snow-covered roads was quickly shattered; as I tried to get started again on Leif Erickson, I flopped around and fruitlessly spun my rear wheel for a while:

With a bit of a running start (and after completely abandoning the premise of clipless pedals, instead pushing my silver dollar-sized Bebops with my previously shown icy club of a foot), though, I was back in action...  for no more than a half mile, 'til I scrapped my plans of descending Saltzman and instead made a U-turn for the Thurman gate. By this time, my wheels were barely spinning as I walked the bike along:

For the ride back east on Thurman, though, that would be a bit of a blessing. My front cantilever and rear U-brake were all but useless at that point; for the descent, I turned to a Flintstones-esque system of dragging a foot through the snow to snow myself like so:

Leaving behind me a trail like this:

Then for the steepest portion, I straddled my top tube and used BOTH feet as brakes and balances:

And I made it back into downtown without anything worse than some residual butt soreness.

I took a solid hour to cover the five miles between NW 23rd and Brooklyn, and in that time the fluffy flakes of earlier in the evening slowly devolved to the usual Portland January rain. I made a quick run into my local late-night greasy food magnate:

... placed a take-out order, shuffled the last half-mile home, unwrapped my food, greeted my dog, and relaxed with some Netflix at 2:30am while the snow accumulation in my neighborhood turned into slush... somehow validating my plan to get out and ride while it was still fresh and pretty.


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