Bike Riding in Snow’s No Fun

Chicago has just gone 307 consecutive days without a one inch snowfall. That is the longest such spell in 54 years. And, might I add, most welcome to me as a bicycle rider. Because of this snow drought, I have been able to ride many more times in these waning days of December than I would normally. As a result, I will post my biggest total mileage for a  year in my life in just three more days – over 8000 miles.

Looking west on Chicago's Riverwalk

The view looking west on Chicago’s Riverwalk with skyline in the distance

As you can see from the photos, the snow looked kind of pretty falling on the Riverwalk. However, look closely at the second photo taken on the next morning. Those patches of gray and white are ice patches and diabolical for a bicyclist.

The view looking east on the following morning

Looking east on the following morning

A sheet of ice is very simple to navigate, you just get off the bike and walk it till you are past the ice. But, sporadic ice patches are a totally different story. When I ride, I try to keep my heart rate in the target zone. For a septuagenarian like myself that requires a speed of around 12 miles an hour. Doesn’t sound very fast when you imagine yourself in your car inching along at 12 mph. On a bike, though, you are traveling at about 17 feet per second. And you aren’t strapped in to a cushy seat. You have a helmet and you are flying through the air riding a pair of skinny wheels. As the guy who has fallen at that speed and broken bones, I can attest that it is fast enough to get into trouble.

So, right now I am cooling out. The Chicago Park District does a great job of spreading rock salt around because the bike path doubles as the jogging path and there are lots of joggers on the lakefront. If the temperature rises just a couple of degrees from the current 31F, I may see enough melting to permit me to ride again.

For my money it is always more productive to get my exercise outside rather than indoors. What I wrote yesterday about the difference between using a treadmill and walking/running outdoors made this point, too.

So, whatever weather you are experiencing in your neck of the woods, make sure you get your exercise, one way or another.

Eat less, move more; live longer. Words to live by.

Tony

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Filed under aging, biking, Exercise, heart rate, seniors, target zone, treadmills, Weight, winter

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