30 Dec 2010

Snowy December 2010

As December was getting a bit long I have split the month as usual. I have scattered a gallery of snowy scenes throughout. Though these were all taken in late December 2010 they may not relate to the adjacent text. I have now brightened them in PhotoFiltre to reduce the blueness.

21st  8-16F, -13--9C, sunny, calm. Despite the cold it was a superb day thanks to the bright sunshine. I soon warmed up and took off the Belstaff jacket and my scarf. Even my hands didn't feel cold though my face and ears did when I went faster. My beard was literally solid with ice from early on. The Aesse jacket was perfect for these temperatures and conditions. I wore skiing goggles to stop my eyes from watering. These goggles also have excellent sun blocking properties without darkening the view. I think I paid a fiver (equiv) for them at a local supermarket.

The back lanes were quite passable except for the drifts where the hedges were missing. The chaps in the snow plough lorries work around the clock to keep the roads clear and their work is undone by selfish farmers. Farmers who receive billions in tax payer's subsidies to care for the environment. The snow banks were over 6' high in places.(2 metres) I took a few snaps but this was the only one where there wasn't a complete white-out from wind-blown snow.

Four more inches of overnight snow remained on the roads leaving the traffic to crumble it and squash it flat. I passed a council worker clearing the cycle paths with a mini-digger. Let's just say that the moron had never ridden a bicycle along a path after he had been busy and leave it at that. So many unemployed and this idiot still has a job! In case this is a bit too cryptic he was leaving deep snow dams across the cycle paths at intervals. Only god knows why!

I stayed on the roads and left the traffic to overtake where and when they could. I was able to keep up 12mph without too much trouble provided I stuck to the thinnest or smoothest snow. Going downhill at 20mph felt a bit hairy though. If one back wheel senses more resistance the trike tends to turn that way. I'm talking about free-wheeling downhill here. Nothing to do with the 2WD. The trike can get quite a bit sideways at times. I just point the front wheel straight downhill and hope.

The new i-GotU GPS logger software is completely screwed up and wont download trips. The Next box remains greyed out! Cancel, and the damned thing clears the logger memory! 23 Miles. (as measured by the Ventus GPS logger)  (Now fixed but the i-GotU logger keeps falling asleep half way around)

22nd 18F, -8C, fresh overnight snow, almost still, watery sunny periods. Feeling unwell in the morning with dizziness. Probably the virus which has been giving me headaches. Christmas shopping all afternoon on snow covered roads. 0 miles again!

The deer ran on across the hill in the distance but were gone by the time I had stopped and retrieved my camera. It was rather cold to strip off my gloves to take pictures. Just for scale there is a car by the dark tree on the road straight ahead. It had passed me in the woods and is just about to make a sharp right turn up a rather steep hill.

23rd 28F, -2C, overcast, blowing a 15m/s gale. Snowed all night with drifting and continuous snow and wind forecast for all day and tomorrow. Not looking at all good for a ride today or tomorrow! My monthly average has collapsed with very little hope of a change to better weather.

24th 23F, -5C, blowing hard, overcast. I spent a couple of hours clearing drifts in the drive then went out for a ride after coffee. The roads had been scraped. Leaving a layer of snow over ice. Except where the hedges had been ripped out. There were drifts up to three feet deep just there and nowhere else. The snow was smoking across the road and blowing in clouds off the fields. I was heading for a supermarket but they were closed! Though I managed to get a French loaf in a small village shop. 13 miles. The damned i-GotU logger software is still blocking trips and then deleting them.

25th December 16F, -9C, full sun, winds have finally eased. Lovely day for a ride, but not today. Merry Christmas! Let's be careful out there. :-)

Another hill surmounted without a problem. I liked the way the weak sunlight shone briefly through a gap in the hedge onto Mr Higgins.

26th 8-21F, -13-6C. Still, overcast. I tried my new lightweight cycling balaclava which Mrs Santa had brought me. It was excellent. Offering protection for my cheeks and chin without the excessive warmth of a scarf. The skiing goggles offering even more protection. It was cold throughout with the roads quite difficult at times. Though I stayed out long enough to do a few miles. Mostly by minor roads. Even quite steep hills were fine thanks to 2WD. It really does give me confidence to take any navigable road. Fresh, six inch deep snow is easily overcome but when it reaches the axles it is really hard work to maintain forward motion.

The narrow strips of road which still looked like bare asphalt were actually ice. The snow was fine when freshly scraped but cars had often made it into crumbly stuff with rather higher rolling resistance. I stuck to the crown of the road wherever possible to avoid sliding off sideways. My new large, cheap mirror gives me an even better view to the rear. Though the flexible stalk is much too long and the mirror vibrates on rough surfaces. It has two clamping screws so I can use anything I like to make a new, shorter stalk.

The chain was frozen and noisy and didn't get any better. I doused it and the gear changers in liquid grease when I returned. The snow I leave on the trike stays there thanks to the unheated shed. So I cleared it off with a stick before putting it away. It will save the gear cables being iced up next time out. 15 miles.

27th 22-25F, -6-4C, still, cloudy. The roads were absolutely appalling! It was obvious nobody had scraped them over Christmas. Where it was undisturbed the snow was fast and smooth. Unfortunately much of it was broken up by tractor and lorry tyres which had crumbled it. On the good stuff I was managing 18mph on the flat but the majority was awful with heavy drag. That meant bottom gear and 5-6 mph! On most of the main roads the ice was corrugated into a vicious washboard. Even the traffic was crawling on the worst of it. The hammering as lorries drove over it was dreadful. I was pulling off when I could to let the traffic pass but it wasn't always easy because of the snow banks on the verge. I saw one young cyclist go down hard on a corner. Fortunately there was no traffic around him at the time.

I set out determined to visit a triangle of three village shops. I managed it but it was a serious workout and I was starving and tired on the last leg. Over three hours (including shopping) to do 23 miles on almost no bare tarmac at all.   

28th 22F, -6C, overcast, misty and still.  My front tyre was as flat as a pancake this morning. Probably a pinch flat from yesterday's grim battle with washboard ice. Once I was out on the roads I discovered they were largely unchanged but there was more traffic about. It felt very cold today.  My centre-pull brake is dragging and the cable ragged. Good job I spotted the cable or it could have been nasty. I think I'll try a side-pull for a change and get rid of the cable hanger.

Only 13 miles so far but I'm going out again after coffee. There is no way to reach 10k miles this year with only three days left. But, if I can manage 68 more km, I shall have ridden 15,000km this year. So I need about 44 more miles. My right knee is niggling so I shall have to try and keep the revs up.

What a hero! :-)  I did another 25.5 miles after coffee and brought back some heavy shopping. Mostly on snow-covered, minor roads. I have beaten 9300 miles and am very close to 15,000 km.

The temperature is now 24F, -4C, almost still, with a heavy overcast. It still feels very cold though I don't know why. I have been out in 10 degrees C colder than this and it didn't feel as cold as it does today. My big blue shopping bag is disintegrating. I have a new purple bag ready but haven't tried it for size yet. It certainly doesn't have the same quality as the blue one. So I shall have to look after it well if it is to last.

29th 18F, -8C, mostly overcast, light breeze. It was much easier  going than coming back because the earlier, smooth snow had been ripped up by traffic. Where the snow had been crumbled it was 3-6mph in bottom gear. I presume the snow plough drivers are all on holiday because none of the roads look any different from one day to the next.

I saw quite a large deer near some woods. It didn't seem to know whether to run or watch me go past at safe distance. I stopped to get the camera out and it ran. At the same moment a snowy breasted thrush landed in the hedge right beside me.  Probably just a well camouflaged song thrush. 20 very cold and tiring miles. I have safely cleared 15,000 km or 9300 miles for the year.

30th 18F, -9C, overcast, light winds. I set off intending to do a 30 mile loop but the roads were very hard work. I was tired and hungry and had no biscuits to revive myself. It was bitterly cold and my beard was soon heavy with icicles. I stopped a couple of times to capture the pretty wintry scenes and my hands were aching with cold within seconds. Even the poor camera went into slow motion! The zoom slowed and the viewing screen took ages to change when I moved the camera! My cycle computers have both stopped recording. The screens show the numbers clearly enough and the 1/10ths change, but the mileage hardly changed at all. 3 miles in 20? Weird! Hands up who thinks I'm a masochist? 20 cold and tiring miles today.

31st December 2010 30-32F, -1-0C, almost still, bright sunshine. A shopping loop halfway by main roads the rest by hilly, snowy lanes. The higher temperatures are allowing the salt to finally start working. The sunshine probably helped. Most drivers were ignoring the speed limits as usual. Though some were holding back and giving me lots of room. I chatted to a few people outside supermarkets who were interested in the trike. The shops were packed with people with long queues.

22 miles to finish off the year. A provisional 9,360 miles for the calender year, or 15,070km. All on a trike. I haven't ridden a bike for at least 18 months. (I have yet to double check my figures with my desktop calculator)



  1. Beautiful. Clean snow and hoar frost is beautiful. We had frost last week. Generally it's too cold for it here.

  2. Hi Gunnar, It's a tropical 35F here today! I can see green out on the fields and the roof is dripping. Still lots of snow lying. Happy New Year!