- Associated Press - Saturday, April 19, 2014

NORMAL, Ill. (AP) - Meg Anderson was running on Constitution Trail at the triangle west of Connie Link Amphitheater when she suddenly saw that the pavement in front of her was wet.

Anderson, who has run outside in all sorts of weather for 22 years, forged ahead. She realized about three feet into the area that it actually was black ice - that notorious, nearly invisible thin coating of glazed ice on surfaces that plagues not only drivers but runners and cyclists as well.

“I started to slip but was able to keep my balance,” recalled Anderson, of Normal. She stepped off the trail and ran in the mud - where she could get better traction - until she was around the black ice. Then she returned to the trail.

“I should have known better,” Anderson admitted. When she saw wet pavement - not knowing whether it was water or black ice - she should have stopped running and slowly walked over it until she reached dry pavement again, she said.

Anderson’s experience two weeks ago isn’t unique. Some other veteran Central Illinois runners and cyclists who remain outdoors or returned outdoors after exercising inside during winter have had similar experiences this month, with falls or near-falls because of black ice, melting snow, potholes, pavement heaving or gravel debris.

Blame it on Mother Nature. These slips are another fallout of Central Illinois’ worst winter in a generation.

It could get worse before it gets better. That’s because more people who exercise inside during winter will be getting back outdoors during the next month and they will be joined by people motivated by warming temperatures to slip on their jogging shoes, get back on their bikes or get into their in-line skates for the first time in years.

That’s great, outdoor enthusiasts and Bloomington and Normal public works directors agree. But those folks need to know that, in some areas, there remain results of winter.

That will make workouts challenging for folks accustomed to running on a treadmill or indoor track or riding a stationary bike all winter, said Merlin Anderson who, like his wife, Meg, runs outdoors all year.

“This was the hardest winter,” said Dan Steadman, a cyclist and president of Friends of the Constitution Trail. Steadman returned outdoors to cycling back and forth to work, for errands and for exercise nearly a month ago.

“I think the condition of the trail - at least the parts that I’ve been using - is good,” Steadman said. “But some of the back roads are tough for people to ride bikes on.

“People need to be aware of deep potholes,” he said. “Take it easy.”

While the existence of potholes is nothing new for anyone whose driven in Central Illinois in recent weeks, it could be a new, injurious experience for people getting back out to run or cycle.

“People need to be aware,” said Wayne Aldrich, Normal public works director. “This was one of the more severe winters we’ve seen for the streets.”

“This last winter was extremely bad on the roads because of the depth of the frost,” said Jim Karch, Bloomington public works director.

“What’s been causing trouble for the motoring public now will be affecting people who bike and run,” Karch said.

“Our streets are not in the condition we’d like them to be,” Karch said.

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Source: The (Bloomington) Pantagraph, https://bit.ly/PoTbHd

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Information from: The Pantagraph, https://www.pantagraph.com


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