Monday, December 12, 2011

Extreme commuting?

Last Thursday and Friday we got snow. Then the temperature rise slightly over 0°C, and we had some rainfall. Last night the temperature drop to -3°C. Today it again rise above 0°C, and more rain... that is typical winter in Southern Finland. You will probably imagine what it means for road conditions...

I really miss the winters 2009/2010 and 2010/2011. Someone would probably say that a harsh winter with lots of snow and bitter cold temperatures somewhere between -20°C ... -30°C is too much for bike commuting. I say no, it's much better than this. Now it's definitely too warm, the stuff comes in wrong kind of from from the sky, and the roads are pure icy hell. Can it be worse than this? Actually it can, if snow plowers won't plow the slush away and all that stuff freezes. This is extreme.

I was commuting today again with my 907, of course. It was definitely a good test to ride on ice with 3.8" Larrys. It went ok, but I rode extremely cautiously.

Of course there is a solution for this, studded tires. They help a lot, but even with them you have to be cautious.

I now have full coverage fenders, which by the way work really well and are pretty silent, but there are not studded fat tires in the market. There are people putting studs themselves, and now there is also a very good tire for that purpose, Surly Nate 3.8". So, another DIY projects is certainly looming for me.

In the meantime I will put studded tires for my cyclocross commuter and ride with it, and I'll be back with 907 when the road conditions improve. On the other hand, there is still some snow left so it's really tempting to ride my forest trail version of commute route with a fatbike.

The weather forecasts looks like this at the moment:

I was hoping for a third hard winter in a row, as has happened a couple of times before, but I'm not really suprised that it's not going to happen this winter. The end of December is forecasted to be mild as well. I'm still expecting colder periods in January and/or February, and overall it's interesting to see how this winter will turn out after all. However, the probability of good ice winter in the Baltic Sea is very slim, even if January and February would turn out really cold. There is simply not enough time them to freeze properly. It would require truly record coldness for the Baltic Sea area. This means probably a goodbye for Ice Journey II, a return trip from Turku to Åland and back, on ice. I really hope that we don't have to wait for 7-10 years for next hard winter, though.

But, there is always the but. We have a B plan with Peter. If the proper winter is not happening here, it usually still happens slightly more north. The B plan is great, and it's possible, and I hope it happens. More about that later...