There’s No Biking Like Snow Biking and Walking in a Winter Wonderland in Austin, Texas

Hot it’s not. Hotter than hell would be swell right about now. Because here in Central Texas the Valentine’s / Presidents Day cold front is a weeklong blast that has 2 million people statewide without electricity. Like much of the US, we’ve suffering through an Arctic weather pattern that is so cold (how cold IS it?) that temperatures are below what it normally is in Anchorage, Alaska. It was forecast to be 5 degrees F tonight, and we got our first ever Wind Chill Warning, meaning it could feel like under 0. This was the third heaviest snowfall ever and the most since 1949. Over 6 feet fell at the main weather station, though where I stay was not as much, but it was plenty. Except for my year in New England, this is the most snow I’ve ever seen. The roads are not safe, and most everything is shut down for several days. But today the sun came out, and I’m still A Dude Abikes, so I went out on a wobbly, wandering walk, and later a short, slushy, and slow bike ride.

The storm had gone, the sun was out, and only a light breeze blew. Snow is a novelty here, but we had some in January, too. So I was less excited bit still interested, though more concerned about hypothermia and frostbite. I put on so many layers that I was soon sweating; it was about 25 items. Lots of students from the University of Texas were out (in far less clothing) having fun. Neighbors were out walking their dogs or playing with their kids. Fun.

More people than I expected were risking driving somewhere but very slowly. Mostly 4-wheel dries and Jeeps but plenty of regular cars. Some enterprising (or possibly drunk) frat boys were even dragging an inflatable mattress behind their truck — with two people on it. An eerie silence was punctuated by the occasional spinning tires or shouting or laughing young people. It reminded me how noisy the city is normally, especially the highway traffic. My boots crunched in the white stuff, and I made sure to not slip on the icy and melted slushy parts.

Once back from my walk I was sweating so I had to remove some clothes. Since I was all suited up, I debated whether I would try to bike. It was beautiful but treacherous. I figured I’d try out Sonnie the GT with her flat pedals, 21 gears, and wider, slightly grippier tires. If it was too dangerous, I could just come back and try to fix the flat on Sophie the Fairdale and use my trainer. So that’s what I did. And boy, was snow biking it tricky! I guess my bike handling skills are pretty good. On the more solid powdery snow, I was fine. On the slushier or remelted and icier patches, the back tire was slipping around a lot. I had to put a foot down a number of times and walk to a safer spot to restart, but I managed to avoid any falls.

After five miles I’d had enough and was not enjoying myself at all. Okay, a little. I actually burned a good number of calories just gripping the handlebars so hard and staying upright. The brakes were so wet they were barely working, and the snow had seeped into various bike parts and refrozen so the tires were about to lock up.

If I want that kind of excitement again, I should wait for everything to thaw and get a gravel bike. But I’m glad I ventured out, keeping my streak of biking every day for 16 months going. Tomorrow, I’ll take a walk, but for the next few days, I’ll do my bike ride on the trainer, inside with the heat on. It’s boring as heck, but I can put on music, maybe watch a video or even read. And I can git ‘er done much faster.

I guess the takeaway for any aspiring bicyclists out there is that if you are very dedicated, prepare well, know your limitations, and are a little bit adventurous, you can still get outside an move your body in challenging weather. Of course, for the folks who regularly ride in the cold, you know all about this. I’m sure it must be amusing, but you have snowplows and we don’t, so we’re just not used to this. Come on down when it’s 110 degrees and we’ll show you around! Thanks for reading about my snowy walk and bike ride.

Have you done any bike rides you’ve in very challenging weather conditions?


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17 thoughts on “There’s No Biking Like Snow Biking and Walking in a Winter Wonderland in Austin, Texas

  1. Yeah, until I visited a place that is totally unprepared for snow, I thought it was funny when they shut down for an inch. But when there’s ice and no plows, sand, or salt; with inexperienced drivers, home is the place to be. Here I have to throw snow up from the 4th step on my front porch and getting above zero is cause for celebration, but it’s supposed to be like that up nort’.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Snow brings people outside. Walking and talking to strangers is a common site on snow days. Everyone complains, then say how beautiful it is. Go figure.

    Crazy stuff. It’s 53 degrees here on Cape Cod and raining. We had snow over the weekend. Only 6-8 inches. It’s mostly gone now and once the rains stops I’ll be able to continue with the bike bit game on bikejournal.com.

    Brandon had to move to a friends house last night. He hasn’t had any heat all day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good points. People do seem to be friendlier in the snow. Also it’s so much quieter. It’s a novelty but I’m ready for it to be gone. Bummer about Brandon’s electricity but good he found a place with it. I’ve been lucky so far. Bikejournal looks a bit like it has some of the same things Strava does.

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  3. Well done for trying and it was a mini adventure at least 👍

    Snow riding really needs a fatbike. I tried it in approx 3″ once with a regular MTB but gave up after less than 15 minutes as the rear wheel kept spinning and sliding. No fun as you say. Now I just don’t bother when we get the occasional snow. It doesn’t usually last long anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. you are so right about how some areas are not prepared for snow and that makes all the difference
    and how cool that you are least gave it a try to get out there and get moving in the slushy, slow bike ride getting a workout.
    we have had an ice storm in Virginia – gone now – but we walked most days – only skipped two that were terrible slick and looked dangerous –
    hope you all have a good week there in texas

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, man! Or maybe you prefer the Hulk’s moniker brother. Or sir. Dude maybe.

      Spent a little time in Virginia, visiting near Charlottesville and a summer near Roanoke. And maybe a few Metro rides from DC. Prettay country, guess y’all can get hot and very humid.

      Glad you avoided the bad ice and are over it, maybe not it’s only February.

      Yeah I try to not let excuses stop me but when the street is like a slip and slide that’s a good reason to go home.

      Peace out, homie!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. oh you are awesome !
        and to me uo richard brings me back!
        because when i was first married to my husband in 1990s more folks knew about the awesome Richard Pryor and so they would also mention him – when i ga e my name – he uses a Y and we use an “i”
        and some folks would ask if we were related and i would aay
        “distant cousins”
        hahah
        thanks for the reminder
        and guess what else?
        hubs got me a bike this week
        – a used Schwinn- and i told him that i had just told a blogger (you) about my getting a bike soon.
        anyhow – it is a starter bike and we will take it from there

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s sweet! On many levels you are. Maybe some of my blogs will help you with your biking? I grew up listening to Pryor on 8-track. yeah, I know the spelling is off but had to mention him. Distant cousins is hilarious.

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      3. ahh – that mention of 8-tracks brings me back – I remember waiting for Van halen”s 1984 album to be released and we were all sitting around (I was little but could stay up for that) and on the wall in the basement there were like 100 8-travcks in a rack on the wall.
        and have to admit that they were ugly! haha
        nothing like the beauty of an album

        Liked by 1 person

  5. What an adventure! Stay safe, and know that it will all eventually melt. In the meantime, make some snow angels and perhaps roll up a snowman or two.
    Seriously though, I feel your pain. I lived near the west coast of Canada for two years. It snowed once, and the entire place from Vancouver to Hope just shut down. We call that a Snow Day, and it’s a 100% legitimate reason to stay home from work and school 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Alison! Yes we don’t want it to be 100+ yet! I lived in Seattle a few years and ringer the green you’ve gotta have the grey.

      You’re in Europe now, right? How’s the winter there, not probably very mild, right?

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      1. I’m in Canada, near Banff National Park. We’ve had a pretty mild winter, with just one really bad -30 C cold snap. It’s right back up to normal temps now (-10 or so).
        I hope you get your power grid back online and you all can go back to normal. Thinking of you all.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. My mom and a friend have visited there and say it’s lovely. Things are ok but I’m glad it was 80F again (down more normal 55 today). I’ve spent several winters in the northwest and two and a half in the northeast. Guess it’s all what you’re used to.

        Liked by 1 person

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