Darkside snow tire commute test
For those who followed and helped (@oydnar) with my autumn adventure of getting a '2012 dl650a outfitted for winter commuting, today turned out to be the real test. I've been riding in, about 5 miles each way, all winter. But we haven't had much snow in Connecticut and what has come hasn't really left much behind the next morning. Thursday's storm was different. We got about a foot and work closed the office. My wife said, "Just a heads-up, I'm going to ask you not to ride tomorrow."
So, tomorrow (today) came and I was like, eh, they probably have things pretty well plowed. And why did we do all this work to get a studded snow tire on the rear wheel if I'm going to let a little snow deter me? Plus, don't I want to learn my limits nice and close to home, with wife, ambulances, and 2 hospitals just a few minutes away, versus on some adventure someday? "I think I'm going to ride today," I told her, along with all that explanation, minus any mention of emergency healthcare. "Okay..." skeptical tone.
Off I went, fully armored including the carbide studded overshoes. So, the streets were not so well plowed after all. "The main streets will be better," I thought. Wrong. Worse. The big roadways must have had more cars during the actual storm, packing the snow before the plows could get it. It wasn't too bad, though. Felt a bit like riding on gravel. I slipped side to side a bit, but the one thing I never had trouble with was accelerating. That car tire on the back delivered consistently.
The ride home was a different story. It is hard to describe but something in the snow on the street made it more slippy. Not exactly slush...more like if you mixed powder snow with a bit of shampoo. I was riding pretty much at the top of my ability, and was truly in Adventure mode the whole way. I don't have any experience going down at speed, but I felt like I couldn't rule that out. 20 mph was top speed. Somehow I made it all the way back to my driveway. Well, in front of my driveway. I turned wide to get a straight shot through the bit of excess the plow left in front of the ol' suburban homestead. I pause a moment, and then went to start my approach... well I was turning a bit, and I guess leaning a bit, and it was a slow easy slide out at 0 mph (but maybe 30 degrees / second angular velocity). Laid it right down in front of the house with the old man across the street watching, confirming his likely first thought that I was an idiot for riding in the first place. And he was almost certainly right.
No damage, and I found myself having no problem picking it back up in the snow. So that was reassuring, and of course it is always good to learn more about your limits without involving ambulances and hospitals.
And now I think I can say I'm a real Adventure rider. Well, an Adventure Commuter anyway, and a bona fide Stromtrooper.