rollers, but after running some errands with my family, I decided the roads were finally clear enough for an afternoon spin. My plan was to ride an hour, with some hill repeats at the end near the University of Michigan hospital. But as soon as I rode off my driveway, the difficulties became apparent. For more than a week, the road in front of my house has been covered in packed snow with a slushy epidermis and an icy base layer. So I began riding on the sidewalk until I came to a section that one of my neighbors failed to shovel. I thought I could just plough through it, but my bike nearly got stuck. I panicked, unclipped my right foot and put it down on the ground. (Yet another reason to try ‘cross: learning how to ride on dodgy surfaces.) Staying on the bike, I used my foot to push off in the snow as my left foot pedaled. When I got to a section of road without snow, I tried to clip back in but I couldn’t. I stopped and inspected my Speedplay cleat and noticed that the round cookie-cutter part (or the “recessed cleat cavity”) was full of packed snow. Stomping my
foot or knocking it on my pedal didn’t dislodge the snow, which seemed to have formed into an icy hockey puck. I considered taking off my shoe and digging the snow out with my fingers, but I couldn’t stand the thought of exposing my feet to the cold. Also, there was no place to sit down. I cruised around my once-leafy neighborhood looking for a stick or twig that could be used to gouge out the snow, but I couldn’t find anything because everything was covered with the white stuff. I decided to keep riding and hope that the heat from my feet would loosen up the snow and cause it to pop out. About five minutes down the road, I realized the streets, which seemed fine from my car, weren’t looking that good from the seat of a bike. Bike lanes were buried under long snowy dunes. Potholes were concealed by pools of gritty brown slush. Patches of icy packed snow were constant threats. I simply loss my nerve. Wimped out. I think of myself as being an adventurous rider. But dodging the insane traffic and bike traps of China is one thing. Riding safely in Michigan’s tundra is another. My skills – and perhaps equipment - just aren’t there … yet.