Sunday, 12 January 2014
Riding in Icy Conditions
It's always a difficult call when the weather has been cold overnight as to whether conditions the following morning are going to be OK to ride in. As a rule of thumb, if it's been freezing overnight, I tend not to ride the following day due to risk of black ice.
Kicking in to 2014, I was keen to get some solid miles in. January 2013 saw me cover 224 miles in total, 2012 was 204 miles, primarily due to cold weather conditions. With only one ride last weekend, I had some catching up to do, so although cold overnight I resolved to get out. Key things to consider when riding in icy conditions are: -
1) Dressing appropriately.
2) Choosing an appropriate route.
3) Slowing down.
4) Whether to go out or stay in and do some intervals instead!
Each to their own, I opted to go out. There was the familiar crunch underneath the tyres indicating that the roads were likely to be precarious, so conclusion was to keep the ride on main roads. I only had a couple of hours and had lower miles on the clock yesterday due to a puncture, so I was keen in the couple of hours I had to get out and get some miles in.
As I rode, a few things came in to my head about ride safety in such conditions. Passing a big peloton of club riders, I thought they were pretty mad personally to ride in a tight group given the unpredictable road conditions. The thoughts I had were: -
1) Running on wider tyres (25mm/28mm) gives you more rubber on the road.
2) The importance of carrying a foil blanket in your back pocket. If you do go over unsuspectingly, it's vital to keep warm. For a couple of quid, this is something that will assist you or a fellow cyclist in an emergency.
3) Using the back brake more than the front to avoid losing the front end.
4) The importance of carrying 'ICE' information. See previous blogpost here about Road Life ID which I use.
5) Going out a bit later to allow the sun to rise and do its work.
6) Steering clear of the gutter at the side of the road, where ice is most likely to form due to lack of salt on the road.
7) Taking turns a bit wider and slower than normal.
Despite a couple of wobbles on unexpected black ice, slowing down on today's ride and keeping things smooth and predictable, it meant the very cold part of the morning around 8.15am passed without drama. 30 miles more in the bag, 121 in total so far this month.
It was in contrast to yesterday, which was nearly a write off, with very wet conditions. There was a lot of surface water and riding through a puddle - bang - I hit a hidden pothole, something I'd previously blogged to beware of! Straight away, the tyre went down and I had a pinch puncture.
Usual pack drill, wheel off, tyre off, tube out, I can do it in my sleep now, but I had a repeat of a previous problem. When removing the hose of my Lezyne Pressure drive pump after inflating the tyre, it also undid the valve inside the Continental inner tube, rendering me unable to pump the tyre up as the valve was completely removed from the tube.
Same thing happened at the back end of last year but I put it down to the long 80mm valves on my deep section rims, thankfully a passing fellow cyclist lent me his pump with a standard press-on fitting and everything was fine.
Conclusion is I've permanently retired the Lezyne pump as I can't have that happening on a ride. Prior to that it hasn't happened to me before, so it could also be a batch of tubes that I purchased where the valves weren't tight enough in the tube.
Anyhow, it was also a great reminder when passing someone to always ask if everything is OK?
Here's to a Great 2014
With the New Year firmly upon us, I wish you safe, epic and wind assisted miles, whatever your goals. For me, it's all about continuing to use the bike as a tool to stay fit, think clearly and see some amazing countryside whilst riding with some great like minded people. Chapeau!