Monday, 27 December 2010

Snowy Cycle Path

Spending some time at the in-laws over the Christmas period and not wanting to vegetate completely I took a bike up with a plan to fit in a few short rides at least. Went out today and it wasn't the best experience. The main roads have ridges of slush running down the centre of each lane and every car that goes past you is forced to cross it to overtake you - not pleasant at all. The side roads do offer a much better environment with hard packed snow for the studs to bite into, no slush and very little other traffic about but they only go so far before needing to rejoin a main road for a while.

Leaving the motorised traffic behind though is not a great option as the cycle paths are absolutely atrocious. They have not been cleared at all and are full of lumpy, frozen footprints (who am I kidding? do I live in The Netherlands!!). This video shows a section of path along the A1 and is a main cycle route into Morpeth. No wonder I never saw one other cyclist while out and about.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Painful...But Funny

Well even the Dutch cycling  infrastructure doesn't cope sometimes. It was this kind of ice that sent me to the ground last year. I hope my studded tyres would cope with it.

I tell you though if I knew this black (ice) spot was being filmed I would be furious with cameraman for allowing it to go on...and on. What a sadist, although if we are watching it does that make us complicit too?

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Deer Oh Deer

And here is one of those Deer I mentioned on the previous post. The wide angle lens does not do the occasion justice. This was only 200-300 metres from the M60!

Traffic Filtering

Yesterday I had the misfortune to drive the car through Bury centre. It was stop-start traffic for 40 mins, over which time I covered less than 1 mile. There was loads of room for my bike to filter through and I really, really missed it. Today, I had a ride along route 6 (mainly through snow covered woodland with deer and birds and then along a frozen canal). It came out in Bury where I had to go for some last minute chrimbo shopping. 

The traffic wasn't quite as heavy but you can see from the videos what I mean about being easy to get through heavy traffic on a bike. I rarely cycle in this kind of traffic but am not shy about filtering (I would have failed my motorbike test if I didn't filter appropriately). In the past though I have filtered to the front of standing traffic at lights and then been verbally abused by motorists who squeeze past you as the lights go green only to have to stop at the next lights where I once again filter to the front. 

It got me thinking how others cycle in heavy traffic and if any of you suffered abuse - verbal or otherwise - for doing it?

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Snow Cycle Fun

I have been using the new mountain bike on my local urban woodland paths, some of which join up with National Route 6. This one is about 1/4 mile from my front door and runs near the M60. At the start there is a fair bit of motoway noise but as the path descends it becomes very peaceful and relaxing. Great fun in the snow!

View Clough in a larger map

Snow Commute

The start of my 4 mile commute yesterday morning at 06.45hrs. Brrhhh!

Monday, 6 December 2010

Rocky Road

I promised another post about my trip to south Manchester to see a secondhand bike and here it is.

The bike I was looking at was a lovely example of a 2009 Marin 'Rocky Ridge' XC hardtail mountain bike (Bike Radar Review of '09 model). I used a hire model when I did some mountain bike skill development last year, thought it was a great bike and have been keeping my eyes peeled for secondhand one coming up in the right size and within easy travelling distance since then. Well I saw and handled the bike last week and decided to make it the one to go for. I bid with 10 seconds left on the auction and got it for £200.00 less than I was willing to pay. I'm collecting it Wednesday. And I did come clean to the wife about the purchase too!

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Blog Feed Problem

I had a message from Will recently to say the blog link on his site that directs to mine was not refreshing with my latest posts. This is apparent on other blogs as well and I cannot find why. If anyone does know I would appreciate some help. I have noted though if the link is deleted and then reloaded it seems to work again.


Thursday, 2 December 2010

Cycling Studs

Fitted my newly purchased studded snow tyres - Schwalbe Marathon Winters - the other day and these are my first impressions.

Schwalbe Marathon Winter Tyres

The tyres were easy to fit by hand over the rims and didn't require gloves for protection. The studs are flat ended carbide rods and are not sharp at all. I've covered about 26 miles since - had one return trip to work in a thin covering of snow and ice and today 18 miles to/from south Manchester (to see a secondhand bike I'm thinking of getting but that is another post to be hopefully). This last trip was mainly on clear gritted roads with some banked slush in the cycle lanes which I took care to avoid as well as a mile or so along national cycle route 6 covered in compacted snow.

National Route 6 crossing the M60
It was good to be able to compare handling in both snowy and clear conditions. The tyres handle pretty well on the tarmac, although they are quite noisy and there is a little bit of vibration through the handlebars. The ride remains comfortable however and there is no noticeable drop in speed compared to my normal Schwalbe Marathon Supremes. On the snow/ice the ride is grippy and assured and while I still took it easy, I'm sure as I gain in confidence with them I'll be back to cycling almost as if the road was clear - almost!

I'm happy I bought them as I'll be able to get to work whatever the weather. I know some committed cycle commuters are making alternative arrangements for their commute while the roads are snow and ice covered but I would just miss my cycle fix too much for that.