Slick Tuesday

17 January, 2006 Temps: 15 degrees F (-9.44 C)

Well, it wasn’t quite frozen butter this morning, but it was close. The sleet and rain had laid down a thin base of glare ice, and that was covered by an inch of fresh snow. I could see pavement in places, but conditions were very adverse to two-wheeled travel. The Baron and I left early, and crept down the dark, lonely sidestreets as far as Minneapolis. I didn’t think there had been many plow trucks out overnight. Monday was MLK day, after all, and I know the Public Works guys usually get that one as a holiday.

Crossing the Lake Street Bridge, the Baron and I were in the left lane, because that had the most pavement visible. Suddenly, some yahoo in a big 4WD pickup truck blasted past us in the right lane, splattering us with slush. Then he swerved left in front of us and slammed on the brakes! I dropped my right foot, squeeezed the rear brake lever to initiate a skid, and managed to fishtail around him, just missing his fender on the right. I pulled over and stopped, absolutely enraged, and watched this idiot turn left at the stoplight, against the red. No, I did not get a license number. Too much slush on my visor from his big, fat tires. He spun those tires all the way down to the river road, headed south, no doubt to see who else he could menace. Just another brown hole sighting, I guess.

Well, I had planned to stop at the coffee shop this morning, and it was right there on that corner. But now I had so much adrenaline pumping through my veins that caffiene would have been redundant at best, and downright dangerous more likely. I headed down West River Road with maximum caution, continuously reminding myself to loosen my grip on the bars. By the time we made it to Lyndale, I had decided to take Highway 55 the rest of the way. This bypasses a lot of icy sidestreets in favor of the thoroughly de-iced four-lane. I have done this before, and I call it the Half-Fast Route (convenient pun intended).

There is nothing to see on this road, but traffic moves between 40 and 60 mph, and it gets the last few miles of my commute over with in a hurry. This morning, it was just what the doctor ordered.

The ride home was still a challenge, as it had snowed off-and-on throughout the day. Not nearly as hairy as our ride this morning, however. The sun came out for a bit, and the drivers were much more civilized. But we had some fun with the curves on East River Road, and that same hill down to Robert Street was still iced-over tonight. Landing gear down, we stopped well short of the crosswalk this time.

5 Responses to “Slick Tuesday”

  1. Dick Aal Says:

    At times like that it would be nice if lynching were still legal. I would have helped you with that pickup driver.
    Hang in there

  2. Bill Sommers Says:

    You know, no matter where you live, that same guy in the same 4WD pick-up is driving the exact same way. If these guys weren’t out there power schmucking down the road, would “brown holes” exist? Hmm…

  3. Mad Says:

    Woah! Close call Gary, I’m glad your skills were up to the test. Keep inspiring us all! :D

  4. Marty Laplant Says:

    My bet is that he didn’t see you till the last second, just got by you and had been intending to turn left. When he saw you stop he was either embarased or afraid of road rage and blew off the light as a lesser danger than you. Reminds me to look into a bright LED taillight to be seen better.
    The biggest danger I experience on a bike is that we are not seen and as you have mentioned before, who expects to see you and the Baron under those conditions. Glad you are such a good rider, I would have been picking up the pieces. Keep up the great work bro!

  5. mnscooter Says:

    Man, you guys crack me up! I’ve got to start recognizing commentors for their contributions to my good humor. Let’s start with these…

    Dick gets the Pun of the Day (POD) award for: “would be nice if lynching were still legal.” …followed by: “Hang in there”.

    Bill gets the LMAO award for: “power schmucking…” Never heard that one before, but you can be sure I’ll steal it in the future. ;)

    Mad and Marty, sorry, no award today. But the Baron IS a nimble little critter. I knew that I didn’t dare touch the front brake on a slippery surface like the Lake Street Bridge deck.

    It is gratifying to realize that my first reaction was to look for my way out, instead of staring at his brakelights. That was a prime example of “you go where you look”. All that time on the racetrack and trails is paying off.

    Marty, you may be right about this guy. I have developed a habit of always assuming the worst about people out on the road. It’s easier to stay alive that way, but it doesn’t do much for my general outlook.

    Thanks guys, and…

    Ride well,

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