Monday, October 31, 2011

Commuter's cyclocross

I have just experienced something I would call a commuter's cyclocross. Last Saturday night we had a severe snow fall in New England. While Boston was hit with just a few centimeters of snow, a bit further north in New Hampshire it was already close to 40cm. But this amount of snow is not unusual here. We New Englanders know to expect it and know how to deal with it (i.e. we either shovel or go lazy way with a snow blower). Still, it came quite early this year, in October. This means that most leaves were still on trees. It also means that it is still relatively warm out here (above zero degrees), which makes snow wet and heavy.

It turned out that this combination was quite deadly for many trees around. Falling trees pulled power lines so many people were left with no electricity and, even worse, no TV ;) I also lost a half of a tree on my front yard.

Today's weather was supposed to be pretty nice so I decided to bike to work. Usually, in the morning I take the road, but in the afternoon, I like to take a longer forest path that goes a bit around through Lexington and then merges with Minuteman Bikeway. This way is longer but nicer and I can stay 100% away from cars. Today, it turned out to be a mistake. I regret I did not take my camera to take better pictures and I had to rely on a cell phone.
I quickly realized that my way back home would mean mostly carrying my bike over fallen trees turning it into a "fully-loaded cyclocross". Not much fun, I have to say, since my bike with panniers must weigh close to 17kg. A bit further down the path, the situation was even worse:
If you are not sure where actually the path is, in these pictures, don't worry. I couldn't find it either. I found out that many small trees around were nearly wiped out by the heavy snow, while larger ones collapsed completely blocking my way.
I eventually got the the Minuteman Bikeway, which was a bit cleaner, but still a true obstacle course.
What worries me that my usual shortcut through the forest is not used by bikers at all. I haven't seen there a single biker so far. It is just a narrow path, which means that it may not be cleaned quickly from all those fallen branches, and who knows, I may even have to wait till the next year. In the meantime, I would have to find another route. I guess this means back to vehicular cycling for now.

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