Embrace the snow (but do it sensibly!)
by Dave Land, posted 2 March 2018

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Riding in the snow can be brilliant - if challenging. But do it right, and don't end up as a victim or a burden. 

The snow always looks beautiful where we live. It has a strange allure, despite the cold, the wind and the freezing feet. I always sit looking out the window, wanting to be out in it, to experience it, and feel like I'm revelling in all the cycling seasons. 

The first day I went out on the road bike, with 32mm tires on, and it was going well. Then I stopped at a junction to let a 4x4 go past. I started off but couldn't clip in. On either foot. I think the spring in the pedal had frozen, so it wouldn't move back to grip the cleat. I rode home very tentatively. The road was alright in patches, where there was little snow, as the dry atmosphere has avoided the normal skating conditions. 

The second day I went out on the mountain bike. This was better - a bit. Running flat pedals meant no repeat of the cleat fiasco. But it was extremely hard work. Bikes just can't push through the snow once it has any depth to it. Even on the roads the tyres would neither bite through to the road - like thin tyres might do - nor float on top like a fat bike should. 

Despite this, being outside, and sliding and slipping, and walking, was an exhilarating experience. I'm looking forward to doing something similar tomorrow.

However, I have taken some lessons from regular riding, and from listening to the radio traffic reports. People calling up the Police because they don't have any water to drink in their car. Despite the myriad warnings, forecasts, gossip and media coverage there were evidently still individuals heading off unprepared and woefully lacking in simple items that would keep them safe and comfortable (I hesitate to say 'alive', this is UK weather after all. If you live in Canada, please write in and tell us about your winter cycling). 

I presume the mantra of 'It'll be alright' was coming back to bite them. More than this though, the assumption that the Police are a kind of Maitre'd service, means they are having to deal with the unprepared, instead of people in actual emergencies. That's unacceptable. With this in mind, although I was only going across the common I still put my mountain bike rucksack on. It had some simple tools, a bottle of hot water, some food, a spare layer, and dry gloves. Sounds excessive? I guess.

 

Of the range of motivations to prepare and act sensibly in challenging conditions, near the top of my list now is how much time, effort and money Emergency Services would need to spend on me, because I was too stupid to bother helping myself. I do want to have fun, I don't want to be 'that' person.

All credits, D Land, 2018

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