SARIS x PELOTON: Tackling the Black Ice Problem Words and Images by Andy Bokanev

It seemed like a good idea at the time. After all, it was February, which meant I already had a few months of cold-, slushy-, icy-weather riding under my belt. Sure, there was that one morning when the temperatures were hovering right around freezing and I hit a little patch of ice and got loose. Or later that weekend, out on a group ride with a small crew, we rounded a corner and hit a shadowy dark patch on the road that turned out to be black ice. There were six of us—and five of us went down. I was the only one who stayed upright and did not even flinch. I must be good at this. Or so I thought.


Fast forward a couple of weeks and I was out on my bike rushing to meet a friend for a quick loop. And then it happened. Before I even got a chance to react. The moment I hit the metal grating that makes up the surface of the University Bridge here in Seattle both of my wheels lost traction and, before I knew it, I fell like a bag of bricks. I hit the bridge deck with my left hand and my left knee.

You know how some people you ride with, when they crash, they just continue to lie there? Well, I am the complete opposite. I pop up almost immediately and try to check and see if everything is still attached. My long winter bibs were torn at the knee and I was clearly bleeding. My hand felt kind of numb, but not terrible. I decided that it was probably a good idea to ride back home, which was less than 2 miles away at that point.

By the time I got close to my front door, I realized that I couldn’t shift with my left hand and had very little control over my fingers. A few hours later a doctor confirmed my suspicion: “Oh yeah, man. That’s broken.” They call it a boxer’s fracture. A break of the metacarpal bone of the little and ring fingers, most commonly caused by punching an immovable object. Sounds about right. Surely, I got off easy and a few weeks in a cast gave me a new appreciation for staying sane while riding a trainer indoors.

That was five years ago. To this day, I do not trust any patch of road that seems a little too dark and shiny when the temperatures start dipping toward freezing point. No, I much prefer to enjoy the rare snow here in the Pacific Northwest, but not on the bike. At least not outdoors. Instead of wondering if that patch of pavement is black ice, I prefer to do my intervals and training rides in the basement. Instead of trying to wear enough layers to stay warm during long rides, I figure out ways to stay cool when it gets a little too warm riding the trainer. And when it gets a bit boring getting on the trainer for the 10th hour this week and I have already assigned names to all of the spiders in the basement, I just move the Cycleops trainer to a different room. What a view, that winter wonderland.

Related: SARIS x PELOTON: A Race to Nowhere