Once again, last night, I found myself thanking all those who steered me in the direction of Michelin Commander IIs. For those who don't know, I dumped the Michelin Scorcher and bought Michelin Commander II and replaced my rear tyre. The following took place in Manhattan, NY on November 7th, Wednesday between 4pm and 6pm.
I had gas (a luxury here in NY nowadays) so I felt compelled to ride to work as I always do every day. Came to work around 6:45am, everything was fine (albeit incredibly cold. low 30s. with gust and self inflicted gust I recon I was riding at ~10 degrees) road was dry I had my winter gear on.
The nor'easter hit NY mid-day. Around 1pm there was blizzard quality conditions here. I was expecting snow but I wasn't expecting this much this soon. Around 3pm I decided to leave early as visibility was getting worse and the wind was picking up. Above 30mph gust and they close the bridges and the tunnels are still flooded so I had to haul ass fast.
At 4pm I left the office (midtown, rockefeller center 50th street and 6th avenue) there was traffic which is preferable as the visibility was problematic. what I didn't account for was the rate at which my visor would be covered in snow. roads are wet, but since I replaced the rear tyre with a Commander II I have no more wet surface issues. I traverse the island towards east, then usually take FDR down to Manhattan bridge, but out of fear of high winds I decided to stick to local roads and took 2nd avenue down (south). Snow was blowing directly at my face and the accumulation was incredible on the visor. And in 15 minutes another problem developed: severe fogging. The snow accumulation on the outer shell made the helmet so cold that even when I opened the visor fully the fogging didn't go away. So I was constantly struggling to get the snow off and stick my finger in and clean the fogging at least at the bottom quarter of the visor. And I had to keep the visor half open all the time.
Then it got worse. There is a gas station at the end of 2nd avenue and they had gas. Nowadays this means long lines and heavy traffic around the vicinity of such a gas station. And the traffic was clogged. It took me an hour to get out of 2nd avenue (a 20 minute exercise in normal rush hour traffic) Slush started building up on the road surface. And for those who know Manhattan, we don't have roads here. We have defensive trenches. In case a foreign army tried to pull a land assault on the island, the roads and the pot holes would stop their progress. A small price we have to pay for our security. I have a friend who got airborne on Chrystie street (at the end of 2nd av) because of two consecutive deep bumps. Alas, slush on bumpy road is disastrous. You can't see and you can't maneuver either. Yet I managed to keep the rubber side down, all the while thanking the rear wheel for helping me out.
As you approach Manhattan bridge from 2nd avenue, you need to make a detour to align with the entrance. That detour is a small side street at the end of Chrystie street. And that street had no traffic (a blessing for a normal day, a nightmare for a snowy night). Slush and snow on top. I had barely stopped the bike without skidding and the bike started sliding standing still. It's a light slope and covered with ice. Then the light turned green and I made the turn with both my feet on the ground like training wheels.
I decided to take the lower ramp of the bridge, because it's more protected from the wind. And there was 20+ mph gust. I was hoping for traffic on the bridge, traffic means heat, means less snow on the road. But I was wrong. At one point I was the only thing on the lower ramp at 5:30pm last night. Snow on the road, slush, one, just one tire track on the right lane and the wind was blowing. The bike started to wobble as the tyre treads got clogged with slush and every time the wind blew, bike traveled on a straight line to the other lane on slush. At one point I was actually 5 degrees to my right travelling straight to the left. Constantly checking for the distance of the car behind - in case I go down will he be able to stop, where should I try to roll. Kept the speed at ~25mph on third, kept it up right, snow on the visor, visor half open, snow in my eyes... all the while thanking the rear wheel for helping me
At the end of the bridge, the light turned yellow and turned red but there was no way I could stop. Didn't even try to hit the brakes looked to my left, no traffic coming, slowly drifted through the intersection at 10mph and because there was no traffic behind me used it to my advantage to very slowly coast to the right hand side of the avenue. When you come out of the lower ramp of Manhattan bridge you end up at the left side of Flatbush avenue - not good if you need to make a right turn on the next light. The turn executed slowly, no slide and there was a little traffic on Tillary street so I was relieved a bit.
All the while, not even one slide; steady as she goes.
Then came my local side road in front of my place. Covered in snow. Thanks to my 18" high boots and sleeping bag quality one piece, not a single cold spot on my body. Put both feet on the road, started gliding slowly at 2mph. No brake and front and rear simultaneously at feather touches when needed. I was looking for a safe spot when the light turned red. And a split second, a mere split second of a touch on the front brake and the front wheel slid two feet to the left. Since I had already planted my feet on the ground (now covered with a feet of snow accumulation because I dragged them on the road for two blocks) didn't fall, didn't even flinch. But did lose one of my 9 lives at that moment because I hate that feeling. That nightmarish front wheel sliding out of control on a slushy, icy, snowy road surface.
Rolled around the block, feet on the road, at 2mph, found a spot that I thought people won't hit the bike but it was so icy by then that I couldn't maneuver the bike. It kept sliding. stopped the bike, got off, cleared some portion of the road, and rolled over on that surface. put the kick stand down and promised myself not to do this ever again on a bike that has no ABS and no traction control and no winter tyres.
But I did feel the need to thank all who recommended the Michelin Commander II. That tyre saved my life again last night. If I had the previous one, I wouldn't have made it out of that bridge in one piece.
So, thank you all
and be safe
This is me, right after I parked my bike, in my friend's shop