Thursday, April 07, 2016

Uneven melting

Last week I was driving along a rural road. I couldn't drive very fast, as the conditions were not very good.

(Here should be a photo, but the upload does not work. Use your imagination.) Edit: it worked today! :-)

Parts of the road were covered with ice, with nice four inch ruts zigzagging on the ice. On some spots the plowman had done a closer shave, and the sun had melted the ice away and revealed the soggy gravel road. The soggy gravel works like wet sand, it is soft and can drag the car to the side.

Here I am, with the car sliding a meter to the left and right on the ruts and the quicksand pits, enjoying the improved conditions on the road. Because the Summer is coming: snow is melting fast. The fields are mostly snow free, the forests still have some. Rivers will flood and the ice will float downriver this weekend.

A few days earlier, the ice on the road was a few inches thicker. Which meant that the ruts on the ice were six, even eight inches on some spots. If there had been no plowing, this road would not be driveable for a few weeks.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Results of plowing

Case 1: Three meters of smooth, gritted bikeway. The snow gets dumped in the ditch on the right. This is one of the major routes between downtown and the northern parts of the town.

Case 2: On street lane. Most of the snow has been transported away as there are no piles like in the pic above. No gritting to be seen. Ice and snow on the right. Left side of the lane might be clear asphalt or black ice. Oh, that's right, cars are riding in the bike lane and the lane marking is gone already. On the left is an entrance to the parking cave, and the drivers are afraid of crashing into the concrete. After the intersection they do not drive in the bike lane as much and the whole bike lane is full of snow.

To even things out, I cycled  along the right wheel ruts, too. :^EP

Monday, February 29, 2016

Dealing with the snow

A week or two ago had a post about dealing with snow on cycle lanes. It does snow here, and we have a lot of winter cycling, so we're now world famous to be mentioned in the Streetsblog article! Although they got it a bit wrong when they claimed we have an unique method of dealing with the snow: instead of salting, brushing or plowing, we compact it!

Just the thought of  anyone actually doing that makes me cringe. Apart from a ski resort or the jogging paths turned into ski tracks trough the forests, it does not make any sense. Although maybe it might actually work during the early winter, it would fail spectacularly every time we get a heat wave with above freezing temperatures.

Even with regular plowing we get 20 or 30 centimeters of accumulated ice on the roads. Snow turns into ice under the tyres of the cars and from the sunshine etc. By compacting we'd get more ice. Not all ice would be equally dense, some would be compacted more under the tyres and feet.

In the spring, maybe the softer ice melts a bit faster. The tyre ruts would be higher. Imaginne trying to drive along greased backs of pigs. Or maybe the ice starts to crack under your tyres. Pretty soon you'd be driving along 30cm deep ruts filled with slosh, hoping you'll be able to get out of the ruts when you want to turn. 

We don't use brush a lot for snow. Brushes are for street cleaning and collecting the gritting sand in the spring. For snow it's plowing, only on motorways and other big roads some salt is used as it's pretty difficult to try to keep the road surface ice/snow free.

Some comments re cycling and plowing:

  1. Wide paths. 
  2. On street lanes suck.
Bikeways need to be big enough for the plows used to clear them. A pickup truck can deal with small snows, but they can't push the piles further away if it keeps snowing. A wheel loader or a tractor can be used to make room for the pickup again.

The bikeways I'm riding are practically roads for bikes. The get plowed and gritted properly. The few on-street lanes in downtown are horrible, full of snow and ice. The gritting was not visible so I can't comment on that. :-/

Friday, December 18, 2015

Fixable? hub dynamo cracks

A few weeks ago the hub seemed to be frozen (with ice) and when the nuts were a bit loose the whole hub rotated and the wires were cut. I tightened the nuts, reconnected the wires and all seemed to be OK.

This week I rode to grocers, shopped and when I tried to ride back the front wheel seemed stuck again. Well, guess what? The nuts were loose again! I disconnected the wire and tightened the nuts with fingers but for some reason the wheel didn't want to spin. So I loosened the nuts and walked the bike home to prevent further damage.

Took the bike to the shed and examined the hub more closely and noticed the hub has cracked! On the side where the electric wires come out there's a big nut which seems to be part of the aluminum side wall. The side wall has been bent in as if the nut were pushed in on one side. How that is possible, I have no idea. There is no damage to the electric connectors which are on the same side so I don't think the earlier incident caused the damage.

To add insult to injury, my camera refused to work. Blinked the "on" light for half a second, but didn't start. So I had to shoot close ups with my md80 clone.

The red dots are where the cracks are. The big nut seems to have bent in a few millimeters where the arrows are, exposing the black sleeve under it. Ball bearings are also visible trough the crack. the sidewall has cracked under the nut and about one centimeter from it, half way to the outer edge of the side wall. There are also some vertical cracks connecting them.

Now, is that side wall important, load bearing part of the hub or is it just a dust cover? Does it come off if I try to screw the big nut? Gotta google for some blow out pictures.

In the mean while, where's my spare front wheel? And is the rim on it wide enough for the studded tyre? I gotta make the bike rideable again, I need to do a beer run...

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Going Nuts!

The other day I took my bike of the rack and noticed the front wheel seemed to have frozen during the night. Not really surprising, as it had rained and snowed and sleeted during the night. I pushed and pulled and the wheel started to rotate a bit but there was still some resistance. So I put more weight on the bike and pushed and pulled and the front wheel started rotating again. Nice!

Well, the wheel started rotating again, but, unfortunately something had gone wrong: the wire from the hub dynamo to the lights was cut when the wheel and the dynamo connector rotated but the wire stayed put. One nut had become so loose that when I tried to get the wheel spinning, the hub spinned with it. Not Nice.

And this happened a few days after the other light on the bike stopped working. Two lights, neither working. Double Not Nice.

So, although Movember just ended, I recommend you to check your Nuts!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Scary... Evil... Disgusting...

I was riding home in the dark. The sunset was 16:01 and it was cloudy and no snow on the ground so it was pretty dark after 6 pm. I did have lights with me so no problem with the dark.

But then I saw some lights ahead, but off the road. I smelled something... vile. The smell got stronger as rode closer. I knew instantly something evil had happened there. But there was no way around...

It was a small campfire, with several small figures skulking in the shadows... you know, vampires, zombies and things like that. When they noticed me, they called out: "Who goes there?"

In my most impressive, deep monster voice I could make I answered: "MONSTERRRR!"

Satisfied, the evil monsters returned to their task at hand: trying to put out the fire by peeing on it.

Hauskaa Ällöweeniä!

( Happy Disgustiween! :-)

Monday, September 28, 2015

Missed the Supermoon

There was a Supermoon in the shadow this morning. But when I looked outside this morning, I saw clouds so I missed the eclipse. (Looked outside, saw clouds and then I went back to bed. Too darn early!) I tried to take some shots of the moon with my pocket shooter but apparently a camera on a bicycle seat is not steady enough for taking good pictures of the moon. All I got some roundish or oval shapes with no lunar seas visible.

Fortunately, aiming at the ground a few meters ahead of me worked fine. Ah, puddles! At least this road isn't all mud. It rained a whole month's worth of rain in one day last week, and some showers later meant the puddles havent gone anywhere.
 And here's a tree which had nice colours on it a week or two ago. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me until this time. About half or two thirds of the leaves gone so the tree does not look very impressive. And practically no berries either. Did the birds already eat them (the winter food?) or was the summer so bad none grew?