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black ice!!

Old 11-08-20, 11:06 AM
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trainchaser
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black ice!!

So, in my neck of the woods, even though it's still officially Autumn, Old Man Winter is making his presence known and sub freezing temps are now a reality in the mornings when I commute to work on my bike. I've been okay so far but I cross two bridges on my route that easily freeze up over night when the temperature nears the freezing level, there's also the danger of black ice on the pavement as my ride is near the water and there's ample moisture in the air. What is your take as a cyclist on dealing with slippery areas and black ice??
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Old 11-08-20, 11:09 AM
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Go straight and don’t brake.
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Old 11-08-20, 01:10 PM
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Black ice? Doesn’t exist. It’s just ice. Calling it “black ice” and saying that you hit a patch of it and could never have suspected that it was there is just an excuse.

Dealing with ice? Mojo31 has it mostly covered. I’d probably say brake gently and use mostly the rear. I’d also add use studs.
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Old 11-08-20, 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Black ice? Doesn’t exist. It’s just ice. Calling it “black ice” and saying that you hit a patch of it and could never have suspected that it was there is just an excuse.

Dealing with ice? Mojo31 has it mostly covered. I’d probably say brake gently and use mostly the rear. I’d also add use studs.
It's just a name for a thin sheet of ice on a surface that may not be that visible. And on asphalt, it does look black due to the thinness of it.

But yes: Brake gently, don't use your front brake, and don't attempt to turn - especially not while braking. I also tend to move my weight further back on the bike, which seems to help a little to prevent the front from sliding away from me. I still do this on my cargo bikes, and it still seems to have a little bit of an effect.
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Old 11-08-20, 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Black ice? Doesn’t exist. It’s just ice. Calling it “black ice” and saying that you hit a patch of it and could never have suspected that it was there is just an excuse.
Geez man, lighten up.
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Old 11-08-20, 01:51 PM
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Black Ice aka Invisible Ice? Certainly exists here once in a while. I've hit it on motorcycles at speed, but not yet on a bicycle. Crazy scary stuff on a motorcycle.
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Old 11-08-20, 02:32 PM
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"Black ice" is an optical effect of ice that has a smooth surface and looks black from a distance, and might not be visible under poor lighting conditions. So really it's about dealing with ice. Riders in my locale seem to have multiple approaches. A lot of riders, including me, use studs. During the winter, my riding is limited to commuting, shopping, etc., so I don't suffer much from the speed loss. I bring out a dedicated winter bike when the salt trucks come out.

But I've noticed that some riders simply use their regular tires and ride more carefully. Maybe they're more agile than I am, and it's not a great loss to walk a bike over the worst patches if you know they're there. And if you're riding a fixed route, e.g., commuting, then you usually know where the ice will build up. There have been a handful of days when an ice storm comes through, and oncoming riders will warn one another about ice by hollering "ice on the bridge" or something like that.

Some riders bring out their fat bikes or big low pressure tires. There may be some N+1 going on here. Do what works for you, try to stay safe. Falling on a lonely bike path is one thing, falling into heavy traffic another. I did once hit a patch of ice and broke a rib.

Riders with off-road skills may be at an advantage. Don't forget the other kind of black ice: Wet leaves.
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Old 11-08-20, 02:32 PM
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The invisible ice is scary in any vehicle. Most people panic and hit the brakes. Big no-no. Stop accelerating and coast, let the bike/vehicle slow itself, steer straight, and steer into the slide if you slide. The big thing is to remain cool and use your egg.
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Old 11-08-20, 02:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Gresp15C View Post
Don't forget the other kind of black ice: Wet leaves.
Ugh! I remember 30 years ago or so when going home really fast on slim-tyred bike because I had forgotten something. Standing up and really giving it all I had, the front wheel slipped a bit to the left and when it grapped again, my right foot was off the pedal. and my left thigh on the top tube. I had to turn right to keep my face from hitting the ground, only to then hit a tree. I ended up with a fractured pubic bone, and I still have a "bone bump" on it to this day.
Wet leaves, especially when they have started to rot are every bit as bad as ice.
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Old 11-08-20, 04:26 PM
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Five winters ago I finally bought studded snow tires. This winter I finally bought a 2nd wheelset, so I can just swap wheels. If my "spidy senses" think there may be a fair amount of ice, I ride the studs. Otherwise I just ride and walk the bike where there is ice. In the years before I had studs if I thought there would be a lot of ice, I didn;t ride that day.
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Old 11-08-20, 05:19 PM
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Originally Posted by CargoDane View Post
It's just a name for a thin sheet of ice on a surface that may not be that visible. And on asphalt, it does look black due to the thinness of it.
No. It the name a thin sheet of ice on a surface that is perfectly visible. The road looks “black” because the light is reflecting off the ice and the pavement is black. If the road is concrete, do you call it “gray ice”?

If the road is wet, shiny and the temperature is below freeing, anyone in any vehicle should expect ice and for the friction between the tires and the road to be much less. “Black ice” is used an excuse for driving too fast for the conditions.

I have crashed on a bicycle on ice many, many times. I have never said that I shouldn’t have known that the road was icy. I knew what I was doing each and every time I crashed and why I crashed.

I even spun a 35’ delivery truck bed once on ice. As soon as the truck started to spin, I knew that it was my fault and I was going too fast for the conditions. You really have a lot of time to think about stuff when you are spinning on that long an arm.
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Old 11-08-20, 05:29 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
No. It the name a thin sheet of ice on a surface that is perfectly visible. The road looks “black” because the light is reflecting off the ice and the pavement is black. If the road is concrete, do you call it “gray ice”?
Sigh! No, I don't. I just use the word because that is what is used by English-speaking people, and most people drive or ride their vehicle on asphalt. I'm not a native English-speaker, I use the language as it is used by people. Not all words and terms accurately describes reality.

If the road is wet, shiny and the temperature is below freeing, anyone in any vehicle should expect ice and for the friction between the tires and the road to be much less. “Black ice” is used an excuse for driving too fast for the conditions.
Well, the opposite of "black ice" would be "white ice" = ice that is very visibly ice.


I have crashed on a bicycle on ice many, many times. I have never said that I shouldn’t have known that the road was icy. I knew what I was doing each and every time I crashed and why I crashed.
Most of my crashes have been my own fault as well. That doesn't mean I shouldn't use the terms "loose gravel", "black ice", or "wet leaves".

I even spun a 35’ delivery truck bed once on ice. As soon as the truck started to spin, I knew that it was my fault and I was going too fast for the conditions. You really have a lot of time to think about stuff when you are spinning on that long an arm.
Okay.
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Old 11-08-20, 05:36 PM
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I think "Black Ice" is just an idiom. Though a potentially dangerous one.

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Old 11-08-20, 05:36 PM
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Originally Posted by trainchaser View Post
So, in my neck of the woods, even though it's still officially Autumn, Old Man Winter is making his presence known and sub freezing temps are now a reality in the mornings when I commute to work on my bike. I've been okay so far but I cross two bridges on my route that easily freeze up over night when the temperature nears the freezing level, there's also the danger of black ice on the pavement as my ride is near the water and there's ample moisture in the air. What is your take as a cyclist on dealing with slippery areas and black ice??
If you're in an area where you suspect black ice TAKE THE LANE so that you have room to slide off of the ice and catch traction. Ride in a straight line and do not ride on slanted surfaces. You cannot even WALK on black ice so remember that. Bridges around here all have a grated steel surface so that your tires would break through icy surfaces. So that isn't where the danger lies. But in turns where it is completely invisible at exactly the worst time.
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Old 11-08-20, 05:50 PM
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I tried to look up what our term "isslag" would be in English, as it is when supercooled rain falls and freeze instantly when it hits the ground that is below freezing - i.e. the shade, bridges etc. where it most dangerous when it's just around freezing everywhere else, but the shade, bridges etc. just that bit colder.

Turns out it is merely "freezing rain" in English (sort of disappointed by that):


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freezing_rain


And the wiki-entry for "black ice":

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_ice
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Old 11-08-20, 05:55 PM
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Originally Posted by CargoDane View Post
Sigh! No, I don't. I just use the word because that is what is used by English-speaking people, and most people drive or ride their vehicle on asphalt. I'm not a native English-speaker, I use the language as it is used by people. Not all words and terms accurately describes reality.
Perhaps you misunderstand the problem. People in the US are constantly going on about “black ice” that has the magical property of being “invisible” but it is completely visible. People just think it’s invisible because they want to drive at the same speed as they would on dry pavement. “Gosh, officer, how could I have known that the road is slick? It’s Black Ice®!”

Weather forecasters here are constantly going on about warning people of Black Ice!® when it is cold enough to freeze water and it is drizzling. It’s dramatic! As if freezing temperature and water falling from the sky somehow results in a new and magical substance. I’ve had this discussion before and have been told that Black Ice® can form at temperatures as high as 40°F (4°C). That violates a whole bunch of physical laws.

Well, the opposite of "black ice" would be "white ice" = ice that is very visibly.
There is no opposite of Black Ice!®. There is no black ice. Ice is colorless like the water that forms it. Ice on plants isn’t called green ice. Ice that might form on a red rose isn’t called red ice. Ice on my white vehicle isn’t any more white than the ice that might form on my wife’s car is blue. It’s just ice...good ol’ plain colorless frozen water.

Originally Posted by CargoDane View Post
I tried to look up what our term "isslag" would be in English, as it is when supercooled rain falls and freeze instantly when it hits the ground that is below freezing - i.e. the shade, bridges etc. where it most dangerous when it's just around freezing everywhere else, but the shade, bridges etc. just that bit colder.

Turns out it is merely "freezing rain" in English (sort of disappointed by that):


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freezing_rain
Sometimes called freezing drizzle or even frizzle around here. It seldom actually rains drops of water during freezing rain events in my experience. Most of the time it is a fog or mist that simple freezes.

And the wiki-entry for "black ice":

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_ice
They got the first part right. It is certainly overused here, often quite breathlessly.

The term "black ice" in the United States is often incorrectly used to describe any type of ice that forms on roadways, even when standing water on roads turns to ice as the temperature falls below freezing.


But the second part is just either bovine, equine, or Gallus gallus fecal matter depending on what flavor you prefer.

Correctly defined, black ice is formed on relatively dry roads, rendering it invisible to drivers. It occurs when the textures present in all pavements very slightly below the top of the road surface contain water or moisture, thereby presenting a dry surface to tires until that water or moisture freezes and expands; drivers then find they are riding above the road surface on a honeycombed invisible sheet of ice.
Those conditions were be extraordinarily rare if impossible to achieve. Ordinary asphalt pavement used most of the time in the US would never meet those conditions. The asphalt doesn’t have much “texture” below the surface. The asphalt contains rocks but it is a water resistant surface that really can’t hold water.

Tined concrete roads might have structure below the surface to trap water but the roads are usually made to channel water away from the surface so that hydroplaning is less of a problem

Additionally, on both surfaces, de-icer is used extensively throughout the US (and probably most places where it gets cold in winter) to prevent just this kind of problem. Even if de-icer isn’t used, road traffic creates lots of friction which would melt any “honeycombed [ice] structure” quickly. The car’s weight would be enough to crush it quickly if it even formed.

My issue with the usage of Black Ice!® is the dramatic overuse of it. It’s just ice.
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Old 11-08-20, 05:57 PM
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Ok. Whatever. A thin layer of ice is always visible, regardless of lighting and where it is. And ice cannot be white either. Got it. Thanks.

Edit:
I missed this the first time around:

Black Ice® can form at temperatures as high as 40°F (4°C). That violates a whole bunch of physical laws.

I haven't heard up to 4, but 2 degree C. But that process is called "nucleation" and doesn't involve violating any physical laws.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nucleation

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Old 11-08-20, 06:00 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Black ice? Doesn’t exist. It’s just ice.
It's called black ice because it's very thin and much more difficult to see than regular ice...Black ice takes on an appearance of the road surface and that's what make it so dangerous, sometimes you can't see it until it's too late.
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Old 11-08-20, 09:44 PM
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Black ice is the common phrase which meaning is widely understood in the US. If you have an issue with a common phrase, no matter if it is not accurate, that is more your deal than anyone else’s. Translucent or shiny ice might be better descriptors but you aren’t going to change common usage. You know look, Look, there are plenty of phrases I disagree with but it’s my deal, not anyone else’s you know what I mean? You know what I’m saying? Like can you dig it, man? Fur sure. Right on!
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Old 11-09-20, 05:56 AM
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Shouldn't it be ice of color?

coming out of the saddle and locking the handle bars straight helps. don't overcorrect if the bike gets squirrely, just try and ride it out.

If it is truly ice and I see it in time I walk or ride around it.
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Old 11-09-20, 01:02 PM
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What you call it really doesn't matter. It's semantics. The bottom line is that it is slick and depending on the lighting it can be invisible.

I am super cautious because it can hurt you: 25 years ago it put me on the ground with a badly torn rotator cuff. Surgery, 6 weeks with the arm immobilized, 6 weeks in a sling, and 6 weeks of physical therapy. Fortunately my surgeon was a specialist in sports medicine who worked with a lot of pro athletes, the rehab went well, and I got back about 95% range of motion.

And I agree - This time of year the wet leaves on the bike trails are just as treacherous.
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Old 11-09-20, 04:40 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
There is no opposite of Black Ice!®. There is no black ice. Ice is colorless like the water that forms it. Ice on plants isn’t called green ice. Ice that might form on a red rose isn’t called red ice. Ice on my white vehicle isn’t any more white than the ice that might form on my wife’s car is blue. It’s just ice...good ol’ plain colorless frozen water.
I have to wonder if you've ever encountered black ice. No one believes that it is black. It is clear and on the black asphalt it is black. With the slightest roughing of the surface it neither reflects light showing it is there or gives you the slightest clue that you should be careful.

At noon on a fairly warm day I hit black ice that hadn't melted in the cold temperatures in the shade. If you had the sun on you it felt warm but in the shade it was still below freezing. Coming around a 160 degree left turn I luckily took the turn tightly and so was near the center of the road when I hit it and slid 10 or more feet across the road, slowly falling down when I struck dry pavement and was jerked upright and back on course without falling. If you think that you can tell when and where black ice might appear you're incorrect. Even the exhaust of a car can form black ice.
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Old 11-09-20, 05:29 PM
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Anyhoo, back to the OP, I would get a set of studded tires. It sucks to ride on them when it's dry and clear, but because you're commuting road conditions change during the course of the day and night. It's worth it's weight in gold if you can avoid calling on difficult-to-see-thin-layer-of-frozen-water-that-appears-black-to-the-eye-and-misnomerically-called-black-ice ice.

Last December I hit hard-to-see ice patch and went down before I even knew it. It happened so fast. One minute you're riding along on dry pavement, and then you find yourself in the middle of the stuff. Fortunately I was approaching a stop sign and so going relatively slowly. Actually, come to think of it, it might have hurt less if I'd been going faster.
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Old 11-09-20, 06:01 PM
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Black Ice Matters

Black Ice matters. As does all Ice. It does, really!
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Old 11-09-20, 07:07 PM
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There is a reason I have "that guy" on ignore. Don't engage him or we will get six more posts of him trying to prove himself right.

For what everyone else in the world calls black ice, studs as mentioned are your best friend. Once I went to studded tires I would never go back. The question is does Victoria's winter produce enough days where ice is a problem. When the roads are clear the studs really slow you down, so there is a trade off.
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