As I’m sure you all know, this weekend marked the vernal equinox and the formal transition from Winter to Spring.  It certainly isn’t balmy in Mpls yet, but a streak of above-freezing days (some kissing 50!) have left the snow pack on the ropes, and you can tell its not long for this world.  The roads were mostly clear the past few days, so I decided to roll the dice. 

Over the weekend, I tore the bottom half of the bike apart and cleaned/re-greased it.  Basically everything below the top tube was pulled, scrubbed, soaked in degreaser and wiped down.  I even pulled the BB and derailleur off.  What a filthy thing.  Riding a bike in Mpls in the winter is surely a sign of depraved sadism to the bike.  The frame was fine after it was hosed off and wiped down, but the derailleur, cranks, cassette, chain, fenders, brake calipers, wheels, hubs, etc were filthy and needed exceptional TLC.  So, the bike was back to it’s pre-MgCl2-saturated self.  (That’s Magnesium Chloride for the non-chemists – it’s the salt crap they put on the roads.)

Also (and this was the gamble), I swapped out the studs for regular tires and the pedals for my clipless.  If there’s a giant late-March snowstorm, then I’m bussing it. 

But, BUT, the ride this morning was a delight!  I was 12 minutes faster over the 9 miles of my commute without the drag of the studs and the sloppy pedal connection of Sorels.  The forecast calls for more crud this week, but I will accept a day of the bus if I can spare myself the studs!

Here’s a view of my commute this morning.  Pretty snowy, but nice too.  There were stretches of new snow that I was cutting through, and the only sounds were hushed shhhhhh of the tires in the snow.  Of course, downtown was slush and my drivetrain was packed in and shifting was hard…

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So, I got really tired of riding on the trainer. It really blows. Skull-violatingly dull. So, I picked-up some studded tires last night and rode to work today. I tried to take a picture in the cold, dark place that is pre-dawn Minneapolis, but I put my phone in an outer pocket, and it was too cold to register my finger (temps in the upper teens). So, no cold-dark-hell pictures. I did take some on the ride home, when it looks sunny and bright and civilized.

The bike was a joy to ride. Not too big afterall, and quite well-behaved. But gone is the squeaky clean new bike. My nice new bike is befouled! Of course, having a bike made entirely of titanium and aluminum makes me not really worried about the salty slush. If this was a steel frame, I’d still be outside wiping it off.

In general, the studs worked really well despite only being 72 studs per tire. The grainy, gritty, slushy, filthy plow-effluent that was all over the roads, however, was really effective at separating the tire from anything stable, and those were tweaker sections.

I was way over dressed, and was a total sweatball around my head and core, but my hands and feet were still chilled. It felt REALLY good to get into a hot shower at the end of the ride in! Anyway, you can see from the pics how snowy and slushy it was. The ride home was over 30 degrees, so it was warm, but goopy. So, here’s the pics, in marked contrast to the faerie tale land over at ecovelo.

This is the southeast side of Lake Harriet. Yes, that’s a big lake of ice with people walking, fishing, and skiing on it.

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This is the bike kitted out. The studs are 700x32s, so there’s plenty of clearance on the fenders, except when the snirt gets pulled up and through.

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This is my drive-train on slush. You can see how gummed-up the derailer is. It’s quite icky, and it’s a drag. Literally. I think I worked harder in my bottom two gears than I ever have. Must be the rolling resistance and the gunk.

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