Wednesday, November 02, 2011

First real snow fall

Today we woke to about 4-6 inches of soft, wet snow.

I eagerly donned my snow riding gear and set off before dawn to see how Yoshie, my V-Strom Sidecar Rig would do in this snow fall.

Man, the stuff was sticky and wet, I struggled to even push her out of the garage and into the snow drifts which had piled up to about 6-8 inches in front of the garage door!

Finally got her turned around in the driveway and by a combination of pushing and using the engine, I got her pointed into the cul-de-sac and ready to go.  All the pushing I had to do should have been my first clue that things were a bit too slick.

I set off and Yoshie was slipping and sliding but making headway out of the cul-de-sac.  I could feel the real wheel aka pusher tire slipping a lot, failing to gain traction but I continued onwards to the feeder road out of the neighborhood.

Got all the way to Himalaya Road which is the main street out of the suburb I live in and turned Yoshie south towards the first major intersection with Smoky Hill Road.

I never made it that far.  The roads were not plowed of course and while cars had plowed tracks ahead of me, I was not able to gain speed enough to take advantage of the "semi-cleared" path.  I could barely maintain headway as it was so chose to ride on the right-hand lane which was not so clear.

At points, I was having flashbacks to my participation in this past February's Elephant Ride up snowy Guanella Pass Road!  The snow was really deep and slick!

Slowly I made my way up to the first turn for the shopping mall and I got Yoshie up a bit and got her turned around when she could not go further forward due to the incline of that sloping drive!  The pusher tire just wasn't getting traction so any kind of incline prevented progress!

Going back downhill towards Himalaya was fine, though a bit slick still.  I turned Yoshie back towards home as there was no way I was going to get to work with the snow conditions being what they were.

Got her home, slowly but surely.  The pusher tire slipping in the snow and not allowing me to gain much speed to maintain good momentum.  I left the rig in the driveway where she got stuck and went in to await daylight.

Here's a picture of poor Yoshie, waiting for me to dig her out.

I worked from home the rest of the morning, managing to snow-blow the snow off the driveway during breaks and freeing Yoshie so she could rest inside the garage.

At noon, I figured I'd do a proof of concept using the old time trick of wrapping rope around the pusher tire to provide traction aids.  I anchored three separate lengths of rope around each of the three wheel spokes and set off into the neighborhood streets.

The snow conditions had improved markedly with the sunshine beating down on the snow and cars having churned up the snow into tracks of sorts.  The snow had also turned to slush and ice instead of sticky snow so traction was much improved anyways.

Still, the ropes on the pusher tire did great!  I was able to ride my way with only minor slipping issues all the way to the local high school.  Heck, once I was out of the neighborhood streets, the roads were clear!  Of course, clear roads meant the ropes were rubbing straight into the pavement and getting worn down.

I lost one of the ropes while riding to the school but the two remaining ones provided plenty of traction in the snowy/icy parking lots of the school.

 Here's Yoshie, happy once again to be able to negotiate snowy/icy conditions.
She's sitting on about an inch of slushy ice.

 Above is a view of the rope arrangement I was field-testing.
The rope was not exactly the right kind but it worked good enough to prove the concept.

Another shot of Yoshie in the local high school's parking lot.
It being a snow day for the students, I had the place to myself.

I tried to execute some donuts but Yoshie was having none of that.  I figured between the rope traction aids and her wider stance, donuts would have to wait for the powdery stuff to come back.  We're supposed to get some more snow on Friday, so maybe it'll be donuts then.

I spent the lunch hour cruising through the neighborhood streets which remained choked with slushy ice and snow; effortlessly cruising by folks as they dug themselves out from the snow on their own driveways.  

Alas, the hour was up and I motored on home.  I would go out one more time after work in the late afternoon, this time field testing the use of chain links secured to the spokes with ropes.  They worked fine in terms of ride and security of the rope but by then the main roads were pretty much clear.  The neighborhood roads still had long stretches of ice and slush but there were wide tracks available if one wanted clear pavement.

A disappointing start but a good ending to today's riding.  I'll be ready next time.


RazorsEdge2112 said...

I am glad to read that the rope-around-the-tire trick works. I understand that in light snow and slippery conditions, zip-ties can work. Guess I should add both to my winter riding pack.

Circle Blue said...

I've been looking forward, not as much as you I'm sure, to hearing how Yoshie did in the snow. I wondered how it would be for you moving from two wheel drive Natasha to a lone pusher. It sounds like a very good beginning.

Brady said...


Very nice, indeed. You've got some balls just plowing out into it like that, looks like fun.
I'm curious - did you use ballast? Are you planning on putting a winter set of tires on there or just sticking with the rope?

I'll leave you with a small piece of wisdom gleaned from my uncle this summer - he said that he bought one studded bicycle tire last winter. He was going to put it on the back, but the guy at the shop warned him against it. He said you can get into a lot of trouble if you've got the ability to make forward momentum but lose the ability to turn. I want to see you on that thing all winter, but I want you to stay safe. I'm not sure how applicable the bicycle analogy is, but it's worth a thought as you go out.

Behind Bars

Charlie6 said...

Razorsedge2112, I've read where bicyclists use zip ties on their tires...tried larger versions on ural last year, results were not great in terms of durability....but on a bicycle, it should work to use zipties.

Circle Blue, I miss Natasha's driven sidecar wheel, a lot....not to mention her reverse drive gear...sigh. ballast but for the tools I normally carry in the trunk. I am planning on putting a M/S rated car tire on this weekend if possible as the pusher tire. Chains for that tire are inbound. I will carry a supply of rope for emergencies.

You bring up a good point re being able to "steer" in snow. What I've read is to keep ones weight as much on the front wheel as possible to enable steering, but sit as far to the rear as you can when loosing traction. It's a balancing act, specially with the drag caused by the sidecar....but it beats face plants in the snow.

I actually had pretty good turning in the first ride of the day, specially when the rear would "grab" momentarily and start slipping out on me, a little counter-turn with the front wheel soon righted me again but it made for an interesting ride.

RichardM said...

I, like others, have been waiting for this post to hear how things are working. Especially compared to the Ural. I've seen a couple of side car rigs running around here and one that I talked to was running studded tires front and rear. Then again, we probably get a lot less snow than Colorado. This morning, the temps were well into negative double digits (F) so even they may no longer be on the road.

Looking forward to your report with the new tire.


SonjaM said...

You are one crazy person! I like that, and I am looking forward to your next adventure.
Interesting that this low tech rope solution works. Pretty cool! Sometimes it doesn't take much. Ride safely!!!

bluekat said...

It's so pretty! But you can keep it :)
It looks like Christmas, but the basket ball hoop seems strangely out of place! Seems right to see Yoshi in the snow though. Today we had a teeny dusting of snow on the foothills. That's close enough.

Chris Luhman said...

Get a winter tire on the pusher! :) moto tires are basically summer tires and are terrible in the cold.

Charlie6 said...

RichardM, yep, I'll report progress as it is achieved or not....pinning a lot of hope on that m/s rated car tire for pusher tire.

SonjaM, yep, the low tech solution is always great, simple is best.

Bluekat, thanks for visiting....all the snow is gone from the roads, with the odd patch of ice still evident. Should be all clear by end of today.....

Chris, yep, it sucks on snow....not too bad on the crunchy ice/slush stuff but just snow? it sucks.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6 (Dom):

You are one of the most dedicated two-wheeled masochists I heve ever met.

Rope or no rope, there comes a time for a man to slip into the pick-up truck and switch to the 4x4. The snow here is about gone, with temperatures that hit the near sixties (F) in the following days... But local municipalities covered the local roads with salt, which would be hell on my black, aluminum engine covers.

My big adventures will be next spring.

Fondest regards,
Twisted Roads