For today’s Christmas bicycle ride I set off just before dawn. Being a townie I underestimated how cold it really was outside and more specifically how icy the roads were. It was okay for the first few miles to Markyate but as I headed up towards Gaddesden Row things got a little slippery. At that stage I was taking it easy and being extra determined not to slip over on the ice – less huffing and puffing, more like a leisurely amble and not what I’d had in mind.
It was a little unnerving rolling over frosty and icy roads although being able to listen to the tyres was helpful in picking up clues about the surface. Sometimes it was crackly with tiny pieces of frost being crushed by my front wheel. This wasn’t so bad, I could cope with this and it wasn’t horrendously slippery. The deadly sound is when its completely silent: this meant I was on ice, glassy smooth and treacherous. Most of the time I spotted it and just kept going straight, not turning or braking. I can tell you that was scary. If I could I would avoid it altogether. Whenever I could I would ride on the ice free and rougher parts of the road surface – the the above photo from this morning’s ride. Here the icy sheen is easy to see and of some comfort.
With all this icy road listening and ice spotting going on I was distracted from monitoring whether I was hot, cold or whatever. At long last I am getting the hang of staying fairly warm without over dressing. I was wearing my economical Aldi winter cycling trousers (just £14.99) and a Craft base layer and a cycling jacket – that’s quite enough to keep my body warm even when the temperatures are down to around -5C. The tricky bits are my feet, hands and head.
I have achieved getting my winter clothing right and the star lately has been my Craft skull cap, which I thought I’d mention.
These things aren’t cheap but they are worth every penny. Since becoming a Craft fan I invested in one of these last winter and I absolutely love it! You wear it on your head, under your helmet. Simple as that. All you need to do is make sure the windproof fabric is facing the front (it’s easy just to feel where the ‘Craft’ logo is and decide if you want your ears covered, or not. Somehow or other they seem to combine the right level of insulation with ventilation and wicking abilities.
I am sure without one of these I would have been seriously chilled on a number of occasions and they’re so light and easy to have in reserve (it’s light and folds up really small). Naturally you can get this kind of thing from the usual manufacturers such as Gore, DHB, Craft etc. I have still to crack the problem of keeping my fingers warm enough and of course I’m still prone to getting cramp in my feet; but so far so good this winter.
Another 15 miles clocked, albeit slowly. I can tell you, I was so thankful getting back home after this slippery ride. Soon afterwards we were having breakfast together and when I spoke of the treacherous ride I was faced with puzzled looks. If only they knew!
Links through to winter headwear from: