BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

On a bike, riding somewhere. Every day, rain or shine.

Posts tagged ‘winter’

#365daysofbiking Ice magic

Tuesday February 9th 2021 –  It was very, very cold. There was periodic, not really settling snow but continual sub zero temperatures, and hedgerows near puddles around the area like this one in Green Lane had become ice grottos.

You don’t see this much: Last time I’d seen one this good was a decade ago at Stubbers Green: Every time a vehicle passes, it splashes water onto the vegetation, where it ices up.

Beauty, even in the harshest days.

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#365daysofbiking Foreboding

Sunday February 7th 2021 –  Out on a short ride up to Aldridge, it was bitingly cold and I could sense winter coming in again for another go.

I don’t mind the cold; it’s life affirming and just part of life’s pageant, after all, but I’m aching for this winter to end. The foreboding told me my relief would still some way off.

The canal was grey and the towpath hedgerow still very much of the season, and the ride was hard work.

Oh well, while you’re marching you’re not fighting…

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#365daysofbiking Defying gravity

Sunday January 31st 2021 – Some trees have a property, and it’s mostly, but not exclusively oak trees – that they do not drop their leaves when they die off in autumn.

Instead, the tree keeps the dead leaf attached, shedding it the following spring.

The behaviour is called ‘Marcescence’ and scientists don’t really know why it occurs. It may be to protect leaf buds from browsing animals like deer, or to faster recover nutrients from the dead leaves by absorbing them back into the tree directly, rather than through the soil.

Whatever the reason, it’s very curious.

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#365daysofbiking What a difference a snow day makes

:

Monday January 25th 2021 – The day was again cold, and the snow didn’t really thaw at all. As I came home from work, I joined the canal towpath at Clayhanger Bridge to see what the tyres were like on compacted, hard snow: I needn’t have worried. They were fine.

Coming up over Catshill Junction Bridge I couldn’t resist a quick photo looking back the way I’d came: I love the way snow completely changes night photography.

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#365daysofbiking Ice magic

Sunday January 24th 2021 – The snow did indeed arrive, and in some quantity with it falling heavily throughout the day. Sadly, I was too busy with work matters to get out in it until early evening.

I managed a circuit of Brownhills, and the snow was maybe a couple of inches deep: But due to low traffic levels it was persistent on the roads and it made going hard. At least the tyres were good in it: If I’m honest, in handling terms they were far better than the studs I normally use, but that may be a factor of tyre width more than anything.

At Silver Street, the canal and new housing estate there looked beautiful in the snowy night. With nobody around and the white LED lighting complimenting the snow, it looked thoroughly magical.

I’ve really missed decent snowfalls this last few years.

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#365daysofbiking A contact sport

Friday January 22nd 2021 – Normally in winter I ride studded tyres. I do so because they’re bombproof and hold me upright even on black, sheet ice. They are noisy and hard to ride, but always my winter weapon of choice.

This year I read about other, studless winter tyres: Continental Top Contact 2 Winter.

Now I’ve not had a great experience of Continental tyres before now – Gatorskins were dire, although Continental’s inner tubes are up there with the best. So I tried this complex-treaded soft rubber commuting tyre with some trepidation.

I needn’t have worried: They are stunning. Not as good on black ice, but they are extraordinarily grippy. They have dealt with snow, ice, slippery mud and good old fashioned wet leaves. The grip is incredible.I am seriously impressed.

What’s more they’re pretty fast and silent too.

I could get used to these. Well done, Continental. Well done.

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#365daysofbiking True grit


Thursday January 21st 2021 – The weather is wreaking grievous harm to my steeds. The continual mud and grime this year is getting into bottom brackets, bearings, brakes and wheel axles. Things are gritty and crunchy and graunchy.

My bikes will be OK. Unless essential, I leave maintenance until later, when the season changes and weather clears so new components get a summer start to bed in. The patina of mud, grime and road crud is left unwashed, as it does actually form a sort of protective coating.

Note in the lower picture some of the contamination is clearly road salt.

This winter has been one of the most brutally dirty ones I’ve ever seen. Continual mud and slime from rain frequent enough to keep towpaths and trails as little more than slurrey.

Oh well, I’ll sort it in spring…

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#365daysofbiking Bogged down

Sunday January 17th 2021 – Riding hasn’t been great this winter, if I’m honest. The lockdown and pandemic notwithstanding, the weather has been consistently wet and unpleasant, and this is reflected in the muck and mud on every towpath, off-road trail and minor country lane. Everywhere is saturated, even on dry days.

We really have had some wet winters in recent years, that’s for sure.

On an evening ride out before a difficult Monday, I planned to head to Chasewater along the canal – I got on near Silver Street, headed up over Catshill Junction and got as far as Anchor Bridge, before giving up and riding back down the High Street. It was just too muddy to be enjoyable.

I hope this weather breaks soon.

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#365daysofbiking A low blow

Wednesday January 13th 2021 – Someone complained to me today that my 365days was a bit down in the dumps of late. I guess it is, a little. It’s always hard to stay positive when you’re in midwinter and inspiration, and daylight, are hard to come by.

I will try and make it a little more positive in coming days and weeks: but that shouldn’t be as hard, because we’ll soon have lighter nights, daylight commutes, and spring flowers.

On the way back to work after an errand I spotted this roadside daisy in Pleck. It was open, beautiful, and optimistic.

I think I should learn by it’s example.

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#365daysofbiking Hardened

Wednesday December 30th 2020 – I was less keen to ride far today – overnight the partially thawing snow had frozen solid, formed hard pack-ice and I needed to gently find out how the tyres I’m currently using – Continental Top Contact II Winter – would cope.

I needn’t have worried. Not as good as studs, but perfectly acceptable without the noise and rolling resistance. A run up the canal and back through Clayhanger after night fell was enough to find out what I needed.

I think I can happily commute on these now.

The canal is partially frozen – about a IC2 on the Dra Marland canal scale.

Be nice if we had a real snowfall, I think. We’re due a really cold winter.

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