As many of you might know if you live in a cooler climate, for example Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, then you know spring riding starts in March but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. While our temps may have climbed in to the upper 30’s and mid 40’s, warm by some standards, the howling winds, wet salty roads and lower than average awareness of cyclists by drivers can make the riding challenging to say the least.
But even with all that our spirits never waiver as we layer up our wool and spandex velo kits. We head off to stretch our legs and once again visit with our friends no matter what the weather holds.
Since we don’t really have long steady climbs in most of the midwest where I ride, the cycling gods have granted us a replacement training tool we like to call “The Four-Way-Wind”. Some of you might be familiar with this phenomenon. This is the wind that is always in your face no matter which direction you’re headed. The forecast my call for a SW 11mph wind so we plan our ride accordingly only to find the reality is more like a NESW 18mph wind that seems to always be in the face of group. That’s okay, these are midwest hills and they make us stronger. I don’t usually mind, we’re still riding outside and I have positioned myself behind Andrew.
The good thing about salt on the road is it helps keep the ice on the shoulder in check. The bad thing is the constant spray off your mate’s back wheel because he doesn’t own a fender. To deal with this you have two options. One, go to the front of the group and face the aforementioned Four-Way-Wind, or two, become a salt crusted pretzel in the shape of a bike rider.
Lower than average car awareness.
Riding on the roads during the summer is met with challenges from cars, but at least for the most part they seem to be somewhat aware of us as a group of humans on bikes. This is unfortunately not the case in the early spring riding season. It seems the drivers are more unaware of us than usual. Perhaps this is because their windshields are also covered with salt spray and they can’t see us. Or maybe it’s just the total disbelief that there could be actual people dumb enough to be riding bikes in thirty degree weather. Whatever it is, the cars just don’t want to be nice this time of year. Extra care is needed.
In spite of the winds, the salt and the drivers unawareness we still seem to get the group outside and up the road with a fair degree of consistency. As the days get longer and warmer it will become easier to get larger groups together. The winds will die down, the salt will wash away and the drivers will notice us more. So with many good days ahead to look forward to, keep your spirits up, dress warm and be safe out there.
Spring riding will soon give way to hot summer days, long rides and great adventures.
Ride safe. m