Winter riding conditions report
2/2 6PM Light snow falling, making it difficult to see contrast even with decent lights. EFT is mostly clear, but for those sections that aren’t, it’s smooth ice that is hazardous. Most of the Bates St. sidewalk is iced over, if you have studded tires, you’ll be able to climb it slowly. Meteorologists and their modeling were actually right today. In the section of downtown I passed, it was dry. Watch that patchy ice if you’re out tonight.
I was out cross-country skiing on the GAP on Tuesday 1/27 near Kennywood and the trail looked like this. It was nice! This was after about 7 inches of snow the previous two days.
Between the Pump House in Munhall and Kennywood, a truck (who? why?) had driven the trail, leaving a track which would ease walking or biking. But when I was there, no one had yet biked it.
DO NOT ride the fort Duquesne pedestrian bridge. It looks like it was cleared and that there was just a thin layer of new snow on it, but I found out that it was ice as I approached the North Shore side and went down.
Please 311 this. It was almost impossible to walk. I also hear that the hot metal bridge is the same way.
2/4 7:15AM EFT/Jail Trail is pretty clear, a section between the Second Avenue wooden ramp and downtown looks like it was salted. Still patchy ice that people should be cautious around, but a pretty fast run in this morning.
2/5 7:45AM EFT/Jail Trail had some sections of light powder on it, DPW looks like they ran a truck over it and laid down some salt. Predominantly clear, but stubborn ice spots in the expected places (i.e. near the Blvd of the Allies flyover, right next to the Second Ave. parking lot. Tertiary streets hadn’t been treated and I saw a lot of places where the exhaust from cars melted that light layer of snow and it refroze into black ice. Downtown was fine.
When I rode by it this AM, the North Shore end of the Ft Duquesne walkway appeared to still be iced over; that said, i didn’t take a close look.
Penn Avenue track has been salted though some parts are still snow covered. It’s probably too cold for the salt to have a huge impact at the moment.
“DO NOT ride the fort Duquesne pedestrian bridge. It looks like it was cleared and that there was just a thin layer of new snow on it, but I found out that it was ice as I approached the North Shore side and went down.
Please 311 this. It was almost impossible to walk. I also hear that the hot metal bridge is the same way.”
Wonder if 311 helps at all?
The bridge on Penn Ave between Target and Club One that goes over the RR Tracks/Busway was a sheet of ice on the sidewalk. The Highland Park Bridge sidewalk was a sheet of ice as well, but that is PennDot, so I have no chance of that changing until it melts on its own. They caused the ice from plowing all the snow right on top of the sidewalk, but that says it all. Kind of frustrating. It is amazing how many people now walk/ride across the Highland Park Bridge. Sure are different times than just 10 years ago.
Thanks for the updates. I usually don’t want snow to melt, but I think it would be great if it does, just to clear the sidewalks. I would salt it myself if it wasn’t so long! I would be there all day and how much would that cost? Let alone how to get all that salt there.
I saw a 311 about this — they referred it to parks I think. It the Ft. Duquesne pedestrian bridge is not maintained by the city. I think it’s handled by that guy that almost ran Stefb off the path one day.
Penn Ave bike lane finally seems to be easily rideable for the entire length. There are still some icy spots but they are easy to ride around.
Pucusset had been salted; it was dry (but crunchy) this morning.
Greenfield Br sidewalks completely clear and dry. Ditto Saline & Junction Hollow. Just like summer… well, except for the cold.
I did some asking around and the Fort Pitt Bridge pedestrian walkway is state whereas the Fort Duquesne pedestrian bridge is city. Where it gets confusing is that DPW has separate streets and parks maintenance divisions. The name for the parks division that maintains the pedestrian bridge is the “State” Division. Hopefully that helps.
HMB is clear but it has tonns of salt on it. Piles. Be careful.
After a too long hiatus from riding to work I am considering starting up again on Sunday. Any word on how clear the trail is west of the casino? It seems most reports are from east of there.
I do realize temps today should help finish off any small amounts of ice.
Standing salt is gravel. I wiped out this morning trying to bump start the motorcycle. Tried a sharp stop and went sideways, at less than a jogging pace. Then I couldn’t push it back up the hill because my feet couldn’t get traction on all the salt. I suspect bicycle tires would function the same way.
Shovel early and often. I hate salt.
This afternoon, the Southside / Baldwin Boro Trail had almost no snow near the Hot Metal Bridge, but it got steadily worse as we went upstream. By the “Eagle Viewing Area” sign, it was so treacherous (icy, rutted) that we turned around, but we met a guy that had just biked to Kennywood. I think you’d want studded tires to attempt that.
Eliza Furnace Trail was fine. Fort Duquesne Bridge was fine. Northside Trail was fine, except for massive piles of goose droppings near the stadiums. There were a few icy spots, but the ride to Alcosan was mostly fine. Marko & Yale biked up toward Millvale and said it got so icy so they turned around.
Excessive piles of salt on the trails, here and there.
I got a flat tire very fast from a thin sliver of steel that, I’m guessing, had flaked off the Fort Wayne RR Bridge overhead and fallen into the snow on the Northside trail. That’s the railroad bridge near the Convention Center. It skewered my tube and tire quite effectively.
Rode whatever the little trail is that skirts the edge of Frick from the end of Reynolds St to the housing off Braddock north of Forbes on Sunday afternoon. Entire thing was a sheet of ice—great place to practice your countersteering, I guess.
2/10 12PM Ft. Pitt pedestrian bridge is mostly clear, on the South Side section of the bridge is a short icy segment where it is shaded from the sun. There is also a small section of ice on the South Side trail almost under the bridge. From there to HMB is clear. HMB has lots of salt piles on it.
Pleasant news: East Street had a pothole patching crew on it this morning on my way in.
2/12 7:20AM Tertiary streets were untreated/unplowed, I encountered thin ice and around < 1/2 inch of powder. Blvd of the Allies, Bates Street, EFT/Jail Trail, Downtown were functionally clear.
News had reports of some accidents, so be careful out there. Supposedly, temp will drop later today. It was low 30s when I made my run in.
Low Winter Sun, along with fogged up windshields, makes us more invisible.
Sunny and beautiful – perfect conditions. I enjoyed waving to somebody passing me at the east entrance to the jail trail.
Any advice on windproofing my feet? I wear two pairs of socks, SPD shoes, and Pearl Izumi neoprene booties, but the booties are open on the bottom and my toes still freeze after about 20 min. I think a chemical warmer slipped inside would be perfect but I don’t want to spend the money. Ditto Lake winter shoes. Is there some elegant way of, like, wrapping saran wrap or plastic around the shoe somehow? It’s really only a problem if it’s below 10 or so.
I actually find it’s helpful sometimes to wear slightly thinner socks. For a while I was wearing the thickest socks I had, but it made my shoes too tight, and my toes would always freeze. You want to be able to move your toes around plenty, and have some airspace that can get warmed up.
Plastic bags are a cheap, readily available, and effective wind stoppers for either hands or feet. I suppose only to be used if you value comfort over appearance.
^ +1 for loose toe-wiggle room. You can also try a piece of duct tape under the shoes insole to prevent water/air infiltration around the cleat opening.
@chinston, chemical toe or foot warmers can do the trick. It’s an added expense, but it helps a lot if your commute is relatively long.
As for winter shoes, it’s one of those purchases that you think “nah, I’ll never get my money’s worth for them”. But, trust me, you do. I’ve had my Northwave Arctic Celsius MTB shoes for four years now and they are totally worth it. Of course, it helps that I got them at a significant discount, so look for sales towards the end of the season, as you can usually get these type of shoes about 50% or more off the retail price.
I double up on the booties and certainly make sure my toes have room to move. Thin booties keep the air trapped around the feet, and thicker neoprene goes over the whole thing. I think the guys at the global cycling network once did a winter riding video in which they put some aluminum foil around their toes, but they are “winter” riding in England.
In general, layers are your friend. This morning in addition to the double booties, over my trunk I had a base layer of wool, a heavy long-sleeved jersey, my heavy rain jacket, and they a light airtight shell over the whole deal. The only things that regularly get cold are my thumbs. I have never worked that one out.
Things I do to help keep my feet warm:
1. Use booties over summer shoes or get winter boots. I do all this stuff AND wear winter cycling shoes like the Shimano mw-81 or 45nrth fasterkatt. These work fine in spring and fall and adding a few things makes it fine down to deep winter temps we have in PA.
2. Wool socks. Nothing better. Ditch the synthetic till spring.
3. Aerogel insoles to prevent leeching of heat from soles of shoes and cleat, amazon has some for $12. I was surprised how much this helps, but then I got a pair. They don’t have arch support though, so fit may be an issue.
4. I won’t bag my whole foot, but I’ll cut corners off plastic bags and use them to cover my toes and forefoot to prevent wind from chilling my toes too bad since that’s what freezes first. Just the toes. If you have lots of room in your shoes, you can get some neoprene toe covers that go over your socks. Aerotek has a 3mm and 1mm thickness type:
5. Keep your legs warm. If your legs are cold, your feet get cold since the blood going to your feet is pre-chilled as it flows down your legs. Wear a thin baselayer under your pants or tights (I like wool or for a thinner type, use silk long underwear. If you can’t add stuff under, go over. I’ll use my spring/summer rain pants over my jeans or tights to cut the wind and keep in some extra heat. Those tall socks help a lot too.
Thanks! I think I’m going to give the ziploc freezer bag strategy a try – take out the insoles in my shoes for a little more room, then put on thin wool liner sock, bag, medium wool sock, shoe, shoe cover.
I found one of the keys to keeping your feet and hands warm is wearing protection that fits well, or slightly loose. I think cutting off circulation with all these tight socks and more is more of an issue than anything. Make sure your warm blood is flowing easily. I was wearing summer ventilated shoes with regular cotton socks last night at midnight-12:40AM on my ride home and was fine. My head was cold though. Lousy new hat!
Removing the insole might be the wrong way to go. I was thinking you could try removing the existing insole and putting in a heavier cushy neoprene type insole. I wouldn’t be surprised if a big part of the heat loss is the metal shank, cleat, and pedal conducting heat out like a radiator.
You might also consider abandoning the spd’s for the winter and putting on some cheap plastic mtn bike pedals and riding in some light hiking shoes. That itself largely solves the problem.
I might even have some plastic pedals I could give away.
++ on maintaining some wiggle room, though.
Regarding cold thumbs, big skiing mittens that allow your thumb to touch your fingers every now and then helps
I use my standard cycling shoes.
-1st layer, thinner wool sock
-2nd layer, plastic bag (the ones from The Exchange are particulary nice)
-3rd layer, thicker wool sock
For days like today, chemical warmer in the shoe. I might have to do that 2-5 times a season, total. It’s not that cold here in Pgh.
+1 to what Benzo said, re: your legs.
I have synthetic base layer, work pants, wind pants.
That’s sufficient for my short commute.
City salt truck circa 1914
Found here http://images.library.pitt.edu/cgi-bin/i/image/image-idx?rgn1=ic_all;xc=1;g=imls;sort=dc_da;q1=snow;size=20;c=hpicasc;c=hpicchatham;c=hpiccma;c=hpiccmnh;c=hpichswp;c=hpicmonroeville;c=hpicnpl;c=hpicoakmont;c=hpicphlf;c=hpicpitcairn;c=hpicpointpark;c=hpicpso;c=hpicrsc;c=hpicusc;back=back1423859621;subview=detail;resnum=36;view=entry;lastview=thumbnail;cc=hpicasc;entryid=x-715.148737.cp;viewid=20100120-CP-0567.TIF
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