My bike stood straight up by itself, its wheels held tight in a bike rack of foot deep snow. Welcome to Snowmageddon 2010.
Like Armageddon, riders prepared for anything. A week ago, Cincinnati saw 8 to 14 inches of snow. With slightly above freezing temps and rain over the week, a slow melt was underway and we had no idea what to expect aside from a 30 minute “race” where we’d be required to at the very least possess a bike and get pelted by spectator snowballs. Most brought a mountain bike and a cyclocross bike. Some wore Camelbacks. One guy brought cross country skis. There was a Surly Pugsley snow/sand all terrain bike with 5 inch wide tires. There were platform pedals and carbon wheels. Duffels and backpacks were stuffed with an array of embrocation, knee/leg warmers, lobster claws and standard gloves. With the deep snow, I even questioned why I was wearing a helmet, till I saw one guy get nailed in the helmet vents by an ice ball. After a few practice laps switching between bikes, it was certainly faster to run than even try to ride the deep snow. I opted for the carbon wheeled cross bike, not for the aerodynamic qualities, but simply because it’d be lighter and easier to carry for five-sixths of the course. I dropped the psi till the tires nearly bottomed out on the rim.
Aside from a shallow stretch of snow of maybe 40 meters, the course was completely unrideable. Of course that “rideable” stretch was snowball alley. We lined up alongside our bikes and when some dude shouted go, we shouldered and suitcased our bikes and set off plodding and hoofing at a top speed that might’ve reached 5mph. The race could’ve been decided 1 lap of the 300 meter circle. I’m almost certain the guy who won ran the entire time. Within a half lap, I fell into 3rd or 4th and it stayed that way the whole time, 260 meter run, and 40 meters of skiddering through 3 inch slush and slightly closing the gap to the guy lumbering in front of me while ducking snowballs. I say snowballs, but as you can tell by the photos, snow bombs were also being launched by my guesstimate of 25-35 spectators. Ka-smack! Yow! That smarts! I got stung in the back of the knee with a wicked ice ball. Afterward I would learn that they were aiming at my legs because I was the one doofus who went completely bare legged in shorts. Parents brought kids and schooled them that this would be the only time they could pelt strangers with snowballs. Unfortunately for the male riders, the family jewels were about the exact height of the crest of a 2 ½ foot tall kid tossing a snowball. Ooof! I got nailed in the nuts at least three times. Late in the “race” riders began to pass a beer. “Take a swig and pass it to the person behind you!” I did, cringing, laughing and smiling the whole time.