Friday, January 23, 2009

magnesium chloride

The start of this week, the thermometer at home read 22ºF, the roads were dry and I felt confident riding to work. Until I got to the first major intersection, the road was wet and the light from oncoming traffic glared off the road like black ice. I knew from the pattern on the road that this liquid was purposely applied as a de-icing substance, but it still gave me that feeling we have all experienced.

I had the green light so I wasn't given the opportunity to stop and test the traction with my foot as I often do at a stop light, which made the upcoming bridge deck more of a leap of faith than I care to take. I hoped the next light would afford me the chance to get a 'feel' of the road, but not this time. Instead I rolled into the right turn then accelerated cautiously, expecting the slip of the rear tire, but again I was thwarted and stupefied. Surely the next light would be red and allow me an answer but the light remained green. Never a green light when you want one, but today I had a ticket to ride.

I had one last light before arriving at my work, a downhill grade and often sanded or treated during the winter months, this time was no exception. I was able to slowly roll to a stop and put my feet to pavement, the liquid solution was unexpectedly sticky, I twisted my boot into the pavement as if snuffing a cigarette and experienced resistance. I was actually thrilled as numerous possible uses for the de-icer flashed through my mind, mainly involving racetrack applications and year round use on sharp turns. Wouldn't it be great to use this on crosswalk markings and those slippery painted intersection arrows?

My wondrous ideas came to a screeching halt when I remembered Oregon rain, of course more testing must be done, scientific data must be collected, lab rats acquired, or I might just wait for the next ride in the rain and try to remember that unnerving leap of faith.



  1. You work at Barenbrug, don't you? I saw you leaving work a while back. I didn't get close enough to wave. I was up on top on the highway. That downhill offramp from Hwy 34, and the bridge there for that matter, can be pretty treacherous when it's in the freezing zone.

    As for research, any excuse for more riding, eh?

  2. Yes I do and thanks for the wave or intent at least. I try to avoid Hwy 34 as much as possible and take the back road to and from work unless the rain, ice or frost is too risky.
    I noticed the de-icer on the Corvallis bypass overpass this morning, it is a bit disconcerting. I'll try to make note of it tomorrow and the effect of today's rain.
    I'll continue my research all winter if it means riding.


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