February 2010 has started off even worse than January! The roads were atrocious yesterday but far worse today. Yesterday was just possible. Today was completely impossible with inches of new snow lying, falling continuously and with high winds causing drifting.
Feb 1st. Main roads poor but ridable. Just below freezing. 10 slow miles.
Feb 2nd. Roads impassable from new snow and heavy drifting.
Feb 3rd. Main roads poor. Back roads 2"-4" packed snow on old rutted ice. 10 very slow miles. A van driver stopped to chat about the trike.
Feb 3rd: Higgins shopping trolley going off-road. Here I have pulled the trike off the road to let a bus pass on the narrowed road. You can tell at a glance how poor the roads are. The problem is that the snow ploughs can only go so low before they start to damage the roads and rip up drain covers. So they always leave some snow on the road. Would you believe this is a bus route?
With one wheel drive progress can be agonisingly slow on this sort of stuff. I quite often have to lean over and push the idler wheel around with my hand just to get going again after running into deep, soft snow. A high gear helps to get more grip provided one can actually pedal the thing up steep inclines. I have had to walk up a couple of steep, ice-covered hills in the last week because of a complete lack of traction. Normally, nothing would induce me to get off on any hill. Two wheel drive would really help but so would fat, knobbly tyres. Perhaps I should set up the Longstaff with fat tyres for winter weather to save the Higgins from the increased risk of damage.
Other problems with this wintry weather include thick ice sheets and ruts hidden under the snow. These can easily derail the front or even the back wheels unexpectedly. This feels incredibly unsafe at any reasonable speed. Though relaxing usually gets everything back into shape again. I really can't recommend this sort of thing above 20mph going downhill! I thought I had lost it completely a couple of times on fast downhill runs over hidden ice but thankfully the trike straightened itself up again. Lifting off the saddle seems to help by letting the trike run as lightly as possible over the hidden ice. Perhaps it's just psychological but it feels safer to let it float over such obstacles rather than just sitting there like a sack of spuds.
Feb 4th Main roads still banked high at the edges. Lanes still covered in thick ice and snow. 30F. -1C. Sunny with light winds. Completely overdressed for the conditions. 15 miles.
Feb 5th. 34F, +1C! Sun and strong winds (15m/s) brought the first signs of a thaw and highest temperatures since well before Christmas. Main roads clear tarmac with high snow banks. Minor roads thawing but still a lot of snow, slush and ice. It didn't take long for the car drivers to get back to their daily rat runs. I'm not doing enough miles to maintain my fitness but the roads just aren't up to higher mileages. The main roads are awful with the traffic struggling to get past with the cycle lanes still under four feet of snow. Chose to ride into the wind first then risked a circle round the slushy back lanes for just 12 miles.
Feb 6th. Shopping: 30F, Windy, raw. Minor roads clearing at last. 10miles.
7th Feb Sunday. Still, overcast, -3C, 27F. Saw literally dozens of cars carrying mountain bikes with competition numbers affixed. I had quite an audience with the occupants all staring at me. I said that trikes were rare in Denmark! I had to make a bit of an effort not to look too old and slow. Breathless, heart pounding and chest pains. The best I can manage, I'm afraid. :-) Back roads still covered in frozen stuff so only 13 main road miles today. I might go out after lunch to try and lift my daily average. Added another 17 miles. Was going to go further but the lanes were iced up and impassable. So I had to backtrack and then head home. It felt raw this afternoon and my hands were freezing.
I gave up at this point and turned the trike round. Beyond where I am standing the tarmac disappeared under thick, hard ice. There was nowhere left for the back wheels to run properly. I took the opportunity for a photograph back towards the way I had come. The sky was leaden but it looks brighter in this image. I'd just been forced off the road by a girl driving a car. She was determined to get past just where it was icy and the camber was at 45 degrees. I ended up having to put my feet down to save myself from falling right off the side of the road into deep snow!
Feb 8th. -4C 25F Still, overcast. 10 miles. My bike computer is freezing overnight and runs in slow motion. I'm very lucky I have such a range of villages to choose from to go shopping. It gives me an excuse to go out when it would be so much easier to stay at home. There are half a dozen villages with at least one supermarket (usually from different chains) within ten miles of home each offering a different route to maintain interest in the journey. It is a shame that most of the minor roads to reach them are still in such poor condition for cycling. Those that were almost cleared by the (one day) thaw, the road salting and the traffic have frozen up again. The poor old trike is taking a real beating from all the salt. The chain, gears and changers are all orange despite daily application of bicycle oil. The forecast is still around -5C for the next week. Is there no end to this winter?!?
Feb 9th. Horribly sick! A virus or food poisoning? Who knows? Never felt so bad in my life. Luckily my wife was unaffected. I won't bore you with the gory details. Feeling a bit better this evening. 0 miles.
Feb 10th. Still weak from yesterday's strange bout. Cold (-2C) and very windy today. With snow drifting and blowing in clouds across the fields and roads. So having another rest day to avoid the risk of a recurrence of yesterday. Windy tomorrow and Friday are forecast. 12m/s+. (25mph) 0 miles. Grrr!
Feb 11th. -3, 25F, sunny, 10m/s and still the snow is drifting across the roads in the strong wind. I was feeling up to a ride today but it was so cold I just did a quick shopping trip and straight back home. The back lanes were snow covered all over again so I couldn't be bothered to take a detour. Wore two fleece jackets, lined wool waistcoat, scarf, vest and Norwegian jumper and I could still feel the cold wind through my clothes. I shall have to trim my beard to save the weight of accumulated ice. 8 very cold miles.
Feb 12th. -2C 27F. Overcast. High, blustery winds with snow "smoking" across the landscape like something out of a film. Even the main roads had up to 6" of drifting on them in places where the field hedges were missing. I just pointed the front tyre at the darkest strip of road and kept pedalling. Every time a car or lorry passed I had a free sand blasting. The thick peak of my fleece cap was literally fluttering in the wind but thankfully I was wearing skiing goggles so I could see where I was going. It was a bit daft to go out in these conditions but I made the effort not to have another rest day and to try and keep my average above the totally abysmal of last month. I noticed I am finally beginning to develop a slight shadow under my quadriceps. (the muscles just above the knee) Until now my legs were just getting thinner and the muscles ever more clearly defined. It must be all those headwinds. :-) Only 8 miles again. (there and back for some shopping) Surely it can't go on much longer on like this? I want a proper ride!
Feb 13th. -4 25F. Strong wind blowing snow about. Took a detour back from the shops and fell foul of a couple of inches traffic crumpled snow. I had to walk one long slow hill because of wheelspin and drag. When I finally hit clear tarmac several miles later it was like having a motor. I couldn't believe the difference. Still only 10 miles but it all helps.
Feb 14th. -3, 27F. Bright sunny periods. Two inches of new snow overnight had to be cleared first. Left after morning coffee onto wet main roads from thawing slush. All side roads still blocked by snow. I had to follow the main roads just to manage a reasonable mileage. I don't like out and back routes on busy main roads. So I did a triangle for 17 miles.
There is the tip of a very bent, blue, cycle route sign buried in a high snow bank just to the right beyond the trike. Hardly a low level road sign has survived without damage from the constant snow ploughing. The snow bank on the right must have been there for at least six weeks by now. The road plunges down and then rises just as sharply just around this blind corner. Great fun on a trike in better conditions than this. I was a bit wary of stopping to take this photograph but thankfully the traffic was very light on this road today. Unlike the constant roar of the nose to tail convoys to nowhere on the main road which I had left behind a few miles earlier.
Feb 15th. 32.4F 0C. Quite still. A couple of inches of new snow overnight. Signs of thawing on the main and minor roads. Many still impassable on a trike. I passed the 1000 miles on my bike computer today but I'd already reset it twice before. 20 miles mostly by main road.