I rode my bike to work today for the first time since the ice storm that hit the Baltimore/Washington area this past Tuesday and Wednesday. My usual commute takes me through Elkridge, Relay, and Arbutus, MD, including a short trip through the Patapsco State Park Avalon Area. Today, the roads were fine for the most part, actually a little drier and less salt-strewn than I expected. The park, however, was still a massive sheet of ice, and being that I was on a road bike with skinny non-ice-friendly tires, I skipped the park and did a short detour onto U.S. 1 instead. Biking on U.S. 1 is never my first choice, but it was only 1/4 mile on a stretch that has adequate shoulders. All the same, it was the first time I had ever biked this stretch, and fortunately it wasn’t too bad (aided, I’m sure, by the fact that it was 9:30am and traffic was thinning out). Nice to know that I have this option available in the future on days when the park is impassable.
The roads weren’t too bad on the UMBC campus (my destination) either, other than maybe a little more salt than the county roads. The sidewalks were passable. On the roads they use what appears to be the same salt the county uses, but for the sidewalks they use this weird white foamy-pellety stuff that sticks to shoes and tires, and gets tracked all over the place inside the buildings. Thanks to full fenders, my bike stayed pretty clean for the entire ride, until the very end when I rode on the sidewalk. Now the tires are covered with this crap, and I’m sure there’s a long trail of it leading from the front door to my office suite. (Update — apparently this is Calcium Chloride, and come to think of it, it looks suspiciously similar to the Calcium Chloride “Hardness Plus” pellets I put in my swimming pool. Wonder if it’s cheaper per pound…)
The ride home should be interesting. It’s sunny right now, but apparently it’s supposed to cloud up through the afternoon and there’s a chance of snow showers. We’ll see how it goes.