Thursday, November 26, 2015

Winter ride: November 24 - 24 centimeters of snow

Actually they said on the radio that it was 25 centimeters, 

but the 24 - 24 is catchier!

It was quite a day of riding.


First, I had to drive into the city from Spruce Grove. That did not go so well. It normally takes me 20-25 minutes to drive to my parking spot in Glenwood. Because of the heavy snow today, I had decided to park a little closer to work, in Crestwood, another five minutes east on 100 Avenue.

I left home at about 6:50 a.m., and I reached the parking spot at about 8:00. 

Oh well, I thought, even if I get to work at 8:45, it will be OK. I got my bike set up and seeing that the ravine trail was deep with snow, I rode across the pedestrian bridge to Stony Plain Road. The sidewalk was covered in ankle-deep snow, so I started out by pushing my bike along, thinking I'd hop on and ride as soon as I reached a cleared section. But it didn't take long before I realized that a cleared section was not going to happen. 

Enter Plan B -- the bus. This has always been my contingency plan: I know that all the city buses have bike racks on the front, so I have always figured that if I got a flat or otherwise had a problem with my bike, I could catch a bus. I carry a supply of toonies, loonies, quarters and nickels specifically for that purpose. 

There was a bus stop a few steps away, and the bus came almost at once, so I thought I was lucky. I smiled at the bus driver, a sweet-looking blonde woman, and indicated that I was going to put my bike on the rack. She replied by heaving a sigh and rolling her eyes. Nice. Oh well, I wasn't going to let her make me feel bad. It was that kind of day. 

But when I went to put my bike on the rack, I realized that I didn't know how. Yes, there were some cryptic instructions written on the rack -- something about pulling and pushing, but no matter what I did, nothing happened. The rack wouldn't budge. So I looked at the driver and asked for help. Again with the eye roll. She snarled something at me, presumably some sort of instructions, so I tried again. Still nothing. I gave her my best big-eyed pleading look, and she rolled her eyes yet again, snarled, "Oh my God," and got out of her seat. She tried to get the rack to work and finally said with satisfaction, "It doesn't work. You'll have to wait for the next bus."

Whew. That was a narrow escape. I might have had to ride on the same bus as that witch. Talk about bad karma!

The next bus came only a few minutes later, so I was pleased about that. Now, I know it's hard to believe that there could possibly be a section in the bus drivers' manual called, "How to be nasty to people who want to put their bikes on the bike rack" but after today, I am convinced that section exists. 

This bus driver was a bald 55-ish man, but he had almost the same reaction when he saw me and my bike. Fortunately, this bike rack had very clear directions and everything worked just fine, so I got the bike in place with no trouble. When I entered the bus, I asked the driver whether I'd done it properly and he snarled, "That's all you can do." 

Thanks for the reassurance, man.

I dropped my $3.20 in the box and watched with trepidation as the bus began to roll. The bike held on and seemed perfectly content in its spot up front, so I breathed a sigh of relief and relaxed somewhat.

Along the way, I saw a few other intrepid cyclists pushing their bikes, so I felt a bit lazy, but told myself that they probably had a shorter ride than I did.

At 127 Street and Stony Plain Road, I disembarked and proceeded to ride/walk the rest of the way to work. There were quite a few shoveled sidewalks and a couple of streets with packed snow, so I would guess that about half the way was rideable. The rest of the time, I pushed the bike along, giving myself a good upper-body workout.

I got to work at about 8:50 and managed to be in front of the class ready to start by 9:00. Although it had not been a particularly easy or pleasant commute, I did feel good that at least I had spent some of that time being active instead of just sitting behind the wheel.


During the day the temperature had fallen -- it was minus 10 with wind chill of -17 C. So I bundled up and set out, knowing that at least part of the time I'd be pushing the bike instead of riding. And yes, that is what happened for more than half the time. Needless to say, I was glad I'd chosen to park closer to work today.

Most of my walk/ride/walk/ride was not too bad. Until I came to the bridge across MacKinnon Ravine. The sidewalk here had not been cleared at all, which meant calf-deep snow, partially packed down by pedestrians, but not packed enough to form a firm path. I dragged my bike along, struggling to find a good place to put my feet and a good place for the bike wheels. I actually considered picking the bike up and carrying it, but maybe that would have been even harder. 

After I finally made it across, feeling disheartened and worn out, I was getting ready to climb back on my bike and ride the remaining kilometer or so to my van when I noticed that a guy in a stopped car was trying to get my attention. I looked his way and he asked me how much farther I had to go. 

"I normally ride my bike, too," he said, adding that today he had decided not to. (He very kindly didn't say that he was smarter than I am!) 

I assured him that I didn't have much farther and that I was OK from here on, and we went our separate ways, but it was amazing how much better I felt after that bit of thoughtfulness.

I rode on the mostly cleared sidewalks until I came to a good stretch of road, and before I knew it, I was at the car and then on my way back to Spruce Grove and a hot cup of tea!

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