Monday, April 13, 2009

Spring, slowly

Every spring, the Big Weekend of Bike Work rolls around. That’s when I start getting ready for rides on pavement—and the more distant goal of dirt. Last Saturday, I put new tires on the road bike, and got everything lubed and adjusted. I worked on the rear shock of my trail bike, and cleaned up the drivetrain that was rode hard and put away wet last fall.

But I didn’t touch my commuter. The studded tires stayed on.

That was partially due to experience—I’ve been fooled plenty of times by “spring” conditions, and paid the price—and partially due to the fact I suffer a serious butt-pucker affliction when I hit morning glare ice without good studs. So I’m a wimp. Whatever. I hate pain.

A few other local riders swapped out their winter tires last week, and were thrilled to shed the weight and noise of studs, but until I ride at least one morning without any ice to contend with, my Nokians aren’t retiring for the off season.

I felt good about that decision when the flakes started to fall shortly after my family finished dinner with friends Sunday afternoon. I felt even better when I woke up to a couple of inches of snow that was still coming down this morning.

I’m as guilty as anyone of saying things like, “Man, I can’t wait to get out on the road bike.” But that’s just a figure of speech. I’m eager to get out on the road bike, but I can wait.

Especially if it means I get to stay upright.


KB said...

I agree - better to keep those clunky studs and stay upright when you hit the patch of ice invisible under the new snow. Here, at 8200' in the Front Range, we get so many spring snow storms that my studs stay on until late (through April) but I do have another bike with no studs just in case... I can always hope.

Here's to spring!

WheelDancer said...

I totally agree with this perspective and am glad you made this post since I'm generally the first to put on the studs and last to take them off so it's nice to know someone else is still riding them after mine have been retired for the season.

I am willing to put up with noisy slow tires because I have been through the surgical recovery from having gone down. Tire noise is much easier to deal with than surgery! KB underscores the importance of having multiple bikes.

WayUpNorthInAlaska said...

Just curious, if cars have to have their studs off by April 15 (or May 1 this year) does that also mean I have to have my studs off my bike tires? In Sitka it's been years since they enforced a bike ordinance, but was curious if I might be due a ticket if a cop sees me with my studs still on. According to the National Weather Service, in 1972 Sitka got 7.8 inches of snow on April 18, so there is historical precedence for keeping them on a little longer.

Tim said...

I've never bothered to look up the state law regarding studded tires, but I can't imagine anyone caring if you leave them on a bike a few extra days or weeks.

The purpose of the law is to reduce the damage that cars with studs do to paved roads. A person on a bike is far too light for pavement damage to be an issue.

Tim said...

Here you go. The law specifically refers to a "motor vehicle."

AS 28.35.155. Operation of Vehicle With Certain Tires Prohibited.

(a) It is unlawful to operate a motor vehicle with studded tires or tires with chains attached on a paved highway or road from May 1 through September 15, inclusive, north of 60 North Latitude and from April 15 through September 30, inclusive, south of 60 North Latitude, except that at any latitude on a paved portion of the Sterling Highway a person may not operate a motor vehicle with studded tires or tires with chains attached from May 1 through September 15, inclusive. The commissioner of public safety shall by emergency order provide for additional lawful operating periods based on unusual seasonal or weather conditions. An emergency order adopted under this section is not subject to AS 44.62 (Administrative Procedure Act). Upon application, a special individual traction permit may be issued by the Department of Administration allowing the operation of a motor vehicle with studded tires or chains at any time at the discretion of the vehicle owner. The fee for the special individual permit is one-third of the biennial registration fee applicable to that class of vehicle under AS 28.10.421 . The department may provide an appropriate sticker or other device identifying the vehicle to which the permit applies.

(b) In this section "studded tire" means a tire with metal studs or spikes imbedded in the periphery of the tire surface, and protruding not more than one-fourth inch from the tire surface.

Banger said...

Next time you get snow, keep it! We got half an inch or so overnight, and it makes it hard to see the glare ice. It makes it even harder to pull wheelies with my urban bike.