“Slip sliding away, slip sliding away
You know the nearer your destination, the more you slip sliding away”… Simon and Garfunkel
Identifying slippery winter riding hazards is our subject this month. Learn what to be aware of and how to deal with it.
- Wet, soggy leaves- Watch out for those seemingly innocent leaves on the ground. When they are soaked with rain water and starting to rot, they can be very slick. Look for them in street gutters, on the shoulder of the road, along Burnt Bridge and Salmon Creek trails.
- Wooden bridges – We have some really nice wooden bridges along both Salmon Creek and Burnt Bridge trails, but they can be very slick even though they may look clear of leaves and moss. It’s like they have a thin transparent film of slime on the bare boards. Same situation with those tiles and the artificial wood planks on the Land Bridge near the Old Apple Tree.
- Railroad tracks – Aha, you say; I already know about these bad boys. Well, did you know they are many times slicker when just a little wet? Our skinny tires have practically no traction at all on a wet rail. Same thing with metal manhole covers, storm drain grates, road plates (in construction areas), etc.
- Pavement paint- How about that nice smooth thick paint used for center lines, traffic lanes, fog lines, and crosswalks. Just a little water turns them slick. A few years ago, a VBC rider went down on a harmless looking crosswalk, and suffered a badly broken elbow.
- Oil on the road- Cars and trucks, especially older models, can and do drip motor oil, transmission fluid and other oils in the traffic lanes. Combine those drips from a few thousand vehicles with a little rain, and you have a recipe for a nasty fall.
- Lichens and moss- Beware those bright emerald patches of moss or lichens you will see on the pavement, especially in shady places. Lots of it can be found on shoulders of the road and on the paved Salmon Creek and Burnt Bridge trails. These are guaranteed to be slick.
- Frost- If we get a clear night and below freezing temps, you can count on heavy frost in the traditional shady places, and wherever pockets of cold air are found. Be very careful, as it’s a risky business to try to ride on a heavy frost with your skinny-tired bike.
- Snow – An obvious hazard. Just say “no” to snow. Save your ride for another day. It’s too cold out, anyway. Let’s just go to coffee.
- Loose gravel- After the sand and gravel trucks have done their job following a snowfall, the extra gravel gets pushed to the shoulder of the road and to undisturbed patches in the intersections. It can feel like marbles under your tires. Avoid loose gravel, if at all possible.
How to deal with these slippery hazards- Always be cautious and alert. Watch the surface conditions carefully as they are subject to change as you ride along. As you approach a nasty area, slow down or coast at a speed you are comfortable with. Keep both hands on the handlebars, and your bike as upright (vertical) as possible. Don’t attempt a turn, if at all possible, when riding over the suspect spot. If you must make a turn, try to do it in two segments, i.e., make a shallow turn before you cross the spot and then a second shallow turn after leaving the spot. If crossing railroad tracks, try to align your crossing path as perpendicular to the rails as possible. Keep your front wheel pointed straight ahead to avoid any turn, until you are safely across the tracks, on the other side.
--Ride Safe and Tail Winds, Capt. Billy
There are currently no upcoming NW Events, please check back soon.
View NW Events Calendar
There are currently no upcoming VBC Events, please check back soon.
View VBC Events Calendar