Now that winter is over for a large portion of the country (sorry if you live up in the North) spring is either coming on in full force or slowly creeping it’s way in with daytime temps climbing back up into the 60F to 70F range. These temperatures are what we’ve been waiting for and are just teasing us to get back outside and ride.
The rain, snow, and ice that winter brings can have serious effects on the surfaces we ride on and can significantly increase the chances of our being involved in an accident if we’re not careful. Heading outside to ride after being on the trainer is awesome but there are some things you need to watch out for in order to make sure you come back in one piece.
Four Things To Watch For
- Sand and Gravel. When the roads start to ice up and become slick, the transportation departments like to use sand and gravel to help cars maintain some semblance of control. It doesn’t help those that still want to drive at Nascar speeds during these conditions but for those who are cautious it can help. The problem for cyclists occurs after the snow and ice melt. The sand and gravel that was used to cover the roads is left behind after the snow and ice melt leaving it thick in some areas or just lightly coating the surface in others. You need to be cognizant of this potential hazard because hitting a patch of loose sand or gravel can easily cause you to face plant. Kevin over at The Life and Times of Biking Brady just posted about such an incident.
- Debris. I’m not talking about hurricane like debris we can see down in Florida but rather small sticks that are remnants from branches being broken off trees due to the ice and snow. The big branches get stacked up at the curb for pickup by the city but where the branches fell, and where they were stacked next to the road, there’s probably quite bit of smaller branches or branch fragments that would make it very easy for an unaware cyclist to lose control or puncture a tire.
- Wet areas. Damaged water pipes due to freezing conditions can be a big problem even after the warm weather arrives. Many of these leaks go neglected for a while and can make riding dangerous. If the leak is at a curve, or corner, take some extra care because having a wheel slide out from under you while diving into a corner at high speed could get ugly.
- Potholes. These are problems even outside of winter but winter conditions have a way of making existing ones worse and making new ones at an exponential rate. This is a bit of a personal rant but Dallas is the worst area I’ve ever seen for potholes on an everyday basis. They’re everywhere and go neglected by the city forever. There are some you could potential lose yourself, your bike, or your care in. Or all three if you’ve carrying your bike on a trunk rack. Seriously. It’s terrible. The harsh winter only makes it worse. Be extra vigilant and look ahead for potential holes that could catch your front wheel end your cycling season prematurely.
There are four things to watch out for while out on your early spring ride. Take advantage of the good weather but be safe. If you have other tips please post them in the comments below.
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Feature image courtesy of hr.icio.