WINTER RUN FLAT TYRES. WINTER RUN
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Winter Run Flat Tyres
Winter bike commuter morning flat tyre blues
22 January, 2009 09:22:28 In Finland it's customary to spread copious amounts of gravel to icy pavements and roads to keep people from slipping and hurting themselves as well as to help cars up steep hills and get going in intersections. Trouble is, this eskar gravel is becoming more and more expensive as the supplies from hillsides this is excavated from are running. Apparently, no more permits are given to open up new sources to conserve the nature. Thus the keep-people-walking-upright-in-winter departments have turned to another material to increase friction, which is bigger rocks ground to small pebbles. This is all fine, as the finely ground rocks do the same thing for cars and pedestrians as the gravel used to do. Thing is, the stuff is murder to bike wheels. Many of the small pieces of stone have extremely sharp edges, which easily punch a hole through bike tyres if you run over them.Last winter I had three punctures. Today morning was #1 for this one.More philosophically, this one instance where conserving natural resources translates spending more elsewhere. Grinding rocks to produce this stuff must some energy. De-motivating people who ride a bike to work means they use means of transport with an internal combustion engine and thus CO2 emissions. I am waiting to be picked up right now in out family hatchback. Finally many more rubber inner tubes have to be manufactured, packaged and shipped to Finland to be punctured. I've read stories from more frequent cyclists of going through half a dozen each winter. I know that in the balance my vote would be on making a new hole for the non-puncturing gravel, as I start fixing yet another tyre...
Wednesday morning, running late for work, an important meeting shortly after I was to arrive, I cruised onto the ironically named John Nolan drive and saw a sight so breathtaking that words cannot do it justice. Like in much of the country, it was cold, bitterly cold. 6°F at 9:45 AM as I was driving, had been well below zero during the night. But the sun was shining brightly, and the reaction on the surface of the lake was astounding. The lake lay still and flat, but it's like it was boiling, with huge plumes of steam rising into the air so that you could barely see the far shore. Cursing the luck that didn't leave me time to explore all the photographic opportunities, I pulled into the first parking lot I could to take at least a few pictures before hurrying to work.
Here we can see some guys in a boat erecting a barrier of sorts in the water. Considering how cold it was, I feel kind of sorry for them, because it had to be wet and thus bone-numbingly cold work. I think the barrier is to protect the bulk of the lake from the thermal outflow from the Madison Gas & Electric power plant. Regardless, it gives you a glimpse of just how strange the lake was looking that morning. The photo doesn't really do the granduer of the experience justice, but I didn't have time for more than a few shots.
This is also the first photo I've tried to tweak using Aperture, Apple's new software, which I had a chance to kick the tires on at work. It's pretty impressive. (I recompressed it in photoshop afterwards however, since I don't like to post 2MB files to either my blog or Flickr.)
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