21 January 2013

Snow riding within the M25

We have been suffering from cold weather and snow for the last few days in the Southest of England. That means no road cycling for us - the risk of slipping and sustaining an injury is far too high and not worth it.

Unfortunately I had to cancel my audax plans for this weekend also, meaning just one last chance to fit in a 200 km this January next Saturday. However, snow and cold weather has its benefits: it is great for mountain biking and areas that are normally too wet/muddy become ridable again.

Along the Lee Valley canal, -2C
Dan and I set off from our doorsteps, and rode all the way to Epping Forest along the canal path, making it a pretty much traffic-free day. The way to the Forest was bitterly cold, and soon started to snow, first lightly, then quite moderately. We felt fine and relatively warm, but our fingers were getting uncomfortably cold. So much that we decided to warm up in a café until the temperatures rose to balmy -1C.

Rolling into the Forest

Snack stop
The Forest was quieter than usual, being a Sunday. The snow remained soft throughout the day, and it was nice to ride on it while on the broad paths. However, our attempts to take on the singletrack weren't successful. Firstly, they were pretty much invisible, and secondly, they had a thick layer of wet mud underneath the crust of snow that made them a pain to ride on.

Soft snow has a good grip, if you have knobbly tyres

Obligatory picture before heading back home
We rode for about 15 km in the Forest, mostly on broad paths, and it did feel like a good work out with all attempts to take the narrower singletrack. When on the broad paths, it was fairly easy rolling and the grip was pretty good - certainly a nice experience if you happened across soft snow - surely not so good when it ices up!

By 11:30 am we decided to turn back home, and by then, we had endured more than 3 hours of continuous snow. The canal path was completely covered by snow, as was the water itself, but that made for a nice ride back. Not many cyclists had been on it yet, but as the snow was still soft and fluffy, we had no trouble averaging more than 20 km/h on the return leg.

Heading back. On the right, the frozen and snow-covered canal
When I got home, we'd clocked up more than 60 km, which, for a ride like today's, was certainly a good work out and better than originally anticipated.

My kit held up ok, although both toes and fingers suffered a bit from the cold. In such conditions it is normal for people to use bike mittens or even ski gloves. I just took liners and winter gloves, but that did not do the trick. They got wet far too early, and with the wind, my fingers felt painful for a good while. I learnt my lesson for the next time.

My toes, however, seemed all right - I had thick wool socks and theoretically water-proof sealskinz socks. I wore my only mtb shoes, which are meant to be summery ones, with plenty of ventilation. As I was showering, I could feel the tingle on my toes, and they seemed far too red. Perhaps I could do with overshoes on the next cold ride?

The bike. A good cleanup will be needed...

The rider. It was cold and snowing
We couldn't convince Lucy that five hours of snow biking was a fun way to spend a day, but she earned some machaca points too when she went out for a run later in the afternoon, as the snow continued to fall.

No comments:

Post a Comment