It snowed from about 5pm last night to, well, right now here in Chicago. That means that I finally got to try biking in Chicago winter conditions today (well, I cheated, I tried that last Saturday as well, but not for very far). Things went really well on the roads; we live right in the center of the city, so the plows are always working overtime removing the snow and putting down salt. I was happy to see that, at least on my route, the snow wasn't piled into the bike lane or the side of the roads without them where I would want to be riding. The only problems I encountered came when I got close to my work. For the last part of my ride in, I generally cut through Grant Park at Harrison, over a bridge that crosses the Metra lines, through a underpass that goes under Columbus Drive, and up some winding paths that lead to a rear entry of the museum; this route went from bad to worse as I went along.

It soon became clear that I couldn't possibly take my shortcut that goes over grass because that was buried under a foot of snow, so I went the long way to the handicap access ramp to the bridge. When I got to the ramp, I found it was coated with a sheet of ice (tough for anyone on foot, but unimaginable for anyone actually in a wheelchair) which forced me to walk my bike over. From there, the bridge was decent, as was the steep hill I had been dreading going down (it had actually been reasonably cleared and salted). The underpass was ok, but the path leading up to the museum was cleared only very slightly, so it was a real pain in the ass to have to try to share it with pedestrians; I tried to bike over the snow to the side, but soon realized that my normal street tires just weren't made for having traction in piles of snow. After clearing the bottleneck up the hill, my path to the back was nicely cleared until I came to my final turn - that hadn't been cleared at all, so I had to slog through that foot of snow on foot, caking my wheels and bottom half of my ride in snow.

So, I got here safe and, provided the snow doesn't get worse throughout the day, will have an easier time of it on the way home (I'm sure the foot traffic and continued removal efforts will clean up the museum area). The difficulties in the off-road areas of my ride have convinced me that I need to look into buying some kind of studded winter tire to use for the duration of the season because all that mess really slowed me down and made me late. We shall see how it goes from here, but in the end, it was actually kind of fun this morning.

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