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Caught in the storm

It had been two weeks since I was able to ride my bike outside.  The last two weeks have really busy, and the weather hasn’t cooperated well for a cyclist.   Yesterday was my window to get out and enjoy some fresh air.

The roads had cleared from the snow we got from the last couple of storms, and  the winter days usually mean that there is not a lot of traffic on these mountain roads.   The weather forecast wasn’t great, but no snow accumulation, but a 70% chance of precipitation, with a high of 37, mostly cloudy and little wind.

I left the house dressed in all my warmest gear, two layers of gloves, full warm jersey, jacket, booties, ear covers.  I was ready for a good four hour ride.  I headed out on the Peak to Peak HWY to do my Wondervu/Golden Gate Canyon Rd loop.    The beginning of the ride was great.  Not too cold, clear roads, and little traffic, just as I expected.

As I turned East to head down to Pineclif  and up to Wondervu I could see that the higher elevation were now covered with clouds.   I wasn’t sure what was in store for me, so I pedaled on with caution.  As I started the climb up to Wondervu, the flurries started.  As I got  closer to the top, it was a full storm.   The roads were wet, my body and bike were now accumulating snow.

When I got to the top of the Climb, maybe 15 min since it started flurrying, It was wet and cold.  I thought for a min to turn around, but I knew it would be warmer once I got out of the snow, I also knew that it would be snowing if I turned around.  My hands were cold, but the rest of me was feeling good, and my legs wanted to keep going.

As I crested the top, I got into the drops and sped down.  It got really cold, the snow was hitting my bare face, which felt like tiny pins sticking me.  My hands got colder and my body was now wet from the tires spraying me.  I decided if I turned around I would have another hour or 1.5 hrs to get back home vs maybe three house if I kept going.    I stopped and turned around.

The road back down to Pinecliff now has patches of snow, and one section was completely covered.   I got to the bottom, in the little town of Pinecliff and decided for the first time in my 20+ years of riding that I shouldn’t be out riding, and at home by a nice warm fire or in bed, anywhere warm, anywhere other then were I was.  The road I had been on 30 minutes earlier now had 1 inch of snow, was slick and my hands and body were really cold.  I stopped for a second, then a old truck came by.   I waved him down to ask for a ride.  he gave me a ride about 3 miles up the road.  I asked him to take me home for a 20 spot, but he wasn’t interested.  So I got on and pedaled on up to the Peak to Peak.

My hands started to hurt now.  It was harder to pedals as the snow packed in all the places it could find on the frame, wheels, hubs, BB, cassette.  No more cars came by until I got to the Peak to Peak.   I thought someone would come by with a truck and pick me up.  I didn’t see one, everyone has a packed little Subaru or similar.   No one wanted to stop.  So I pedaled on.

There was no shoulder to ride, only the paths the cars made as they pushed the snow to the side.   It made me a little nervous, I was afraid someone would see me, try to get out of my way and slide out and hit me.

I made it to Rollinsville.  By this time I couldn’t move my fingers to shift the gears.  Luckily the little grocery store was open.  The nice guy let me warm up in there.  We had friendly conversation and discussed the weather.  As my fingers started t get warmer, they really began to hurt.  Eventually, most of the pain went away and I decided to ride on.   It looked like it was clearing up in the direction I was going, and the roads looked better too.

After about a mile, and the a good climb ahead of me, the path in the road disappeared, and I was now riding about 2-3 inches of slush.  The path would clear, then there would be a long section of packed down snow from plows that had just passed me moments earlier.

I got 4 miles from home,the roads were terrible, no path, a good 3 inches of slush and packed snow.  I didn’t want to ride anymore.  My friend Greg was only about a couple of hundred yards away.  I walked down his driveway to find him home.   His house felt so warm, I could hand out there all day.  I called my wife, but she had left.  I couldn’t ride home, my hands hurt the worst they every have.   Greg was a great friend and loaded up his little girls and drove me home.

I got into the house and got into a hot shower.  It felt so good.  My toes and fingers started to tingle as the hot water thawed them.   I’m not sure if I got frost bite or another condition, but two of my fingers are still a little numb and tingly.   It’s better then it was yesterday, but I could have permanent damage to them.

My bike was covered in snow and grime.  These were taken a few hours after I got home.

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