Northern Spring arrives.

IMG_0205
Photo. Finish.

Finally a weeks worth of warm weather forecasts. We were supposed to hit a high of 62degF. We hit 70F degrees in my neighborhood. I point out “neighborhood” because depending on your location in respect to Lake Superior there can be a 15 degree difference in different parts of town. It was one of those days where the grass is starting to green, the sun feels hot, and people are in shorts and t-shirts. And you finally get the feeling it just might stick this time. It really does happen late here.

I rode past the local high school on the way home from work today. A big multi-school track meet was happening. I stopped to watch a few minutes. They were running heats of the 100 yard dash. I can remember just three years ago the track you see in the picture still had several inches of ice and snow on it only a week earlier.

Welcome Spring!

Finding the positives.

IMG_3199

Yeah, it still looks like winter. Our snow did melt early last week. A winter storm on Wednesday dropped  as much as a foot of snow in some places and replaced quite a bit of the melted snow. At my house, which is closer to Lake Superior than in the above picture, we only received about an inch of snow.  With today’s sunshine it was all melted by early afternoon today at my house. I took a ride up over the hill away from Lake Superior and it looked like winter never left. My route: //ridewithgps.com/trips/8205692/embed

So I’m still a bit bummed I haven’t figured out a way to to lock up my bike at my new workplace. There isn’t much I miss about my previous job, except for some of the people. But I do miss my daily bicycle commute. The only solution I’m coming up with is to go back to using a beater bike I wouldn’t worry about if it did get stolen. Up until now I’ve been using mass transit or getting a ride from my wife when our schedules match. I also love walking. I’ve walked the three miles home several times. As the weather has warmed and the sidewalks are no longer icy that option has opened up.  A three mile walk on a warm Spring day is as relaxing as a bike ride home.

So here’s the positive part. Without my daily commute I find I have loads of energy to expend on a leisurely weekend ride. Heading out on a windy 37degreeF day on a hilly route and never getting tired is fantastic. In the past, a 40 hour work week and 10 commutes would make a cold, windy, and hilly weekend ride feel like a slog. It wasn’t today. It was very enjoyable.

What a difference a week makes.

One week ago today I was riding my Pugsley in the snow. Today there was little sign of winter and temperatures were 30 degrees above normal. It was 62degF at my house today. This was the unusual March view of Lake Superior and the Duluth Shipping Canal:

IMG_3191.JPG

Here’s a more typical view of the Shipping Canal and Lake Superior (from the hillside) in March. This is from March 16, 2007:

IMG_0917

There should be ice. The ice will stay as late as Memorial Day some years. It’s a weird year for weather. Although I can’t say I didn’t enjoy my ride in the sun today. But I do feel like I’m being cheated out of a month’s worth of fatbiking.

IMG_3192

Another unusual sight is my winter commuting bike in mid-March with no studded tires on it. I took them off this morning. The earliest I’ve taken off my studded tires since moving to Duluth in 2001.

My route today: //ridewithgps.com/trips/8126290/embed I rode out onto the sand spit. The temperature was only 49degF out there. A thirteen degree temperature change on a 20 mile ride. It required adding and removing layers as I went.

When I got back from my ride today I noticed my neighbor working on his bike in his garage across the street. He was a three season commuter when I moved into the neighborhood. Thanks to my bad influence he’s pushed into four season’s riding his bike to work. He rides a nice Surly Long Haul Trucker. I didn’t know this until today, but he bought a second set of wheels so he could easily move back and forth between studded tires and summer tires. He just swaps out wheels. Not a bad idea in the shoulder season like we’re having now. He had switched the wheels sets out yesterday and was having shifting problems. I suggested to him it was his chain and the cassette on the swapped out wheel not cooperating. He doesn’t clean his drivetrain often enough. I helped him swap out the cassettes so he would be using the same one on the swapped out wheelset. I think it’s still easier to move the cassettes then have one wheelset and change the tires every time the weather changes.

Avoiding Traffic

002

I’ve learned a few things filming the rides I do with the Cycliq Fly6 taillight/camera. One of the purposes, I believe, of the camera is to capture video proof of dangerous road users. Mainly vehicles that may endanger you or harass you while you are out using the roadways legally.

The biggest thing I’ve learned is, I’m really good at taking low traffic roads most of the time. I don’t get passed by a whole lot of vehicles. I don’t think I do this consciously. I just take routes that are lesser traveled.

I’ll even take the alleyways through business districts or residential neighborhoods.

007

I know a handful of alleys in my town I can go for 10 or 15 blocks and avoid a lot of traffic congestion. I usually have the alleys all to myself. Any vehicles I meet in an alley are typically traveling at a very slow rate of speed.

Need to bypass some traffic. Check out the alleys.

Happy Riding.