Sunday, December 12, 2010

Railroad Crossing

I was asked to help out with the Cub Scout Construction City on Saturday and being the considerate husband and father I am, I decided to ride over to the event and leave the car home for the girls (which they did not use).  The roads were icy with a fresh layer of snow covering it and the temperatures had dipped into the low teens.  Yeah, I'm a little crazy but in my defense, it was 30 degrees the night before and I didn't notice how cold it was until I was already on the road, in just a windbreaker.  My body stayed warm but I could feel the sting of the cold where my clothes touched my skin.

Considering the road conditions, I debated my route and opted for a less traveled route to avoid the traffic.  Its a route I rarely ever ride.  I took State Street to the 6th Street underpass and worked my way up the neighborhoods to the auditorium.  On State Street there is a rail road crossing that is so infrequently used that I often forget it's even there.  As I approached, traveling around 16-18 mph, I saw the tracks in the snow.  Tracks are never a good situation on a bike, especially when they don't cross perpendicularly.  At our organized rides, they always warn us to take the tracks at a 90 degree angle, or as close to it as possible.  I've heard of the dangers but have never seen or experienced any problems with tracks before.

As I said, the tracks snuck up on me and before I knew it, they were right there in front of me and, of course, they crossed the road at an angle.  Rather than swerve on the ice I opted to roll over the tracks and hope for the best.  I don't know what happened next but as soon as my front tire hit the tracks, my bike was jumping out of control.  I dropped my feet off the pedals but they never touched the road.  The next thing I know, I'm sliding down the road laying face down on top of my bike with a sharp pain in my knee where it had whacked the pavement.  Hurt and embarrassed, I slowly stood up, brushed myself off,  inspected the bike, put the chain back on the front sprocket and climbed back onto the bike.  Although it happened so fast, I'm pretty sure my front tire got caught in the track and flipped me off the bike.  I now understand the challenges of railroad tracks and will be much more cautious of them in the future.

I did make it to the event and back without another incident but I have limped around all weekend.  The knee is tender to the touch but I'm sure it will be back to normal in a week or so.  I'd rather take a whack to the knee than another hit on the elbow any day.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

I love my studded tires!

Have I mentioned that I absolutely love my studded snow tires?  I know I have but I'll reiterate it again.  I love my studded snow tires.

Last year Grandpa Jensen pulled Sydney and Tara in a sled behind his riding lawn mower and they loved it.  This Thanksgiving one of our friends, Chris, pulled them behind his motorcycle and they had a blast.  I figured since Chris was able to pull them with his motorcycle, surely I could pull them for awhile on my bike with the studded snow tires.  Today, in a desperate bit of bribery, I promised Sydney and Tara that I'd pull their sled behind my bike if they helped to clean up their house, especially that heap of toys, dirty clothes and other junk they call a bedroom.  This is a promise I've been making for over a week but they've never followed through.  This time they finally did. 

After dinner I snuck outside, tied a line around my seat post and through the saddle mount and looped it onto the sled.  I really doubted my ability to pull both of them through the snow, especially after our extremely slow start.  With the sled fully loaded, I cranked down on the pedals and popped a nice wheely and then the back wheel spun out.  The sled never moved.  I tried a slower start and slowly towed them out of the alley while my back wheel spun out all over the place and my front wheel jumped from rut to rut unpredictably.  I anticipated troubles so I pulled out my old hockey elbow pads to protect my already tender and damaged  elbows.  Never needed them, thank goodness.

Eventually we pulled out onto the road and the riding got easier.  Best to stick to the hard-packed snow.  The kids had a blast.  I even dumped them a couple times but I never went down.  I think we were out there for about an hour and even though my heart was beating about a thousand times per minute, they egged me on, "Faster Daddy!  FASTER!"  After awhile, I convinced them to take turns and go one at a time so I could go faster (and get a much needed break).  I found an open parking lot for the sugar beet factory where I could really let loose and pick up some speed.  I couldn't tell if the screams behind me where screams of joy or fear but they had a great time and I got in an awesome workout.  Not really an ideal Sunday activity but I'll classify it as family time.  I'm eager to get Evie out on her new infant sled!  A three kid train!  Oh the neighbors much think I'm crazy!