Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Ten rules for cycling on ice

I rode to work yesterday, and it sure was cold. Only marginally warmer today, but it was enough to tempt me into the wilds of the country lanes around the airport. Big mistake.

Reminded me of the time back in 2006 when I dislocated my shoulder after crashing on the icy descent of Burrington Combe. The shameful part of that episode was that I was on a mountain bike at the time, still being a few months away from purchasing my first proper bike. I'm sorry, I didn't know any better then.

So I decided to invent my own Rules. You never know, they may go viral, I can start a cult internet site, people can argue if they are meant to be followed slavishly and get all high and mighty or self-righteously annoyed, and meanwhile I'll be selling spin-off (it's a good joke but you don't get it do you?) merchandise and writing a column for an arty, but little read cycling magazine.

1. If there is any hint of ice, don't go out unless you have to. And then, only in a car, preferably a Toyota 4x4. Stick to the indoor turbo trainer or Watt bike, or invent the steam engine. Yes I know it's related, that's why I put it in. Far too dangerous to ride, only a stupid person would.

Or go walking instead, but not running, which you should only do if being chased. Although I was chased by a big fuck-off dog on Sunday, fortunately I was on my bike, and it's amazing how the watts came from nowhere on a tide of instant adrenaline to double my speed before you can say Di2.

2. If you are stupid and decide to ride, make sure you go on the internet first, find the routes that your local authority purports to grit and only cycle on them. Keep everything crossed though as there is a fair probability that you'll crash anyway. But only an idiot cycles on unsalted roads.

If they are gritted, the salt will wreck your drive-train and all other steel-based parts, particularly if it's wet or muddy too.

3. If you are an idiot and insist on taking to the back roads make sure you only cycle on those that are very straight. The Romans knew that turning the handle bars of a road bike to go around icy corners leads to a tumble. Which is why all their roads are straight.

4. If you find yourself on an icy road, never ever use the brakes, unless you want to wreck your collar bones, or work on developing new rotator cuffs.

5. Do not go downhill. At all. You will soon start to glide over the ice at speeds that even Cav can only dream of, and find yourself in an over-crowded A & E department if you are lucky. If unlucky, you will soon find out if there is or isn't life after death.

6. Do not attempt to cycle up any hills that require you to stand up and pedal. Your back wheel will soon become your front wheel, or it will just spin endlessly as you grind to a slow stop, and topple over onto the nearest Citroen Saxo.

7. If cycling in the dark, make sure you switch off your lights. Otherwise the illuminated ice will either dazzle you, causing a disorientating crash, or else the sight of all that sheet ice will induce such panic in you that the resulting triple salco will make T & D look like novices in the sadly-defunct ice rinks.

8. If you do find yourself falling over, make sure you relax. Try thinking of all the time off work you are going to get, or else the new cycling gear to replace that which will shortly be torn or smashed. Think of it as an opportunity.

9. Put on a brave face after the crash but...

10. Tell everyone you know about how much it hurt, or the damage to your bike etc. etc. Above all, point out how unavoidable it all was, how you couldn't have expected to find ice in the middle of nowhere, in the cold of a British Winter on an un-gritted road.

After all, you don't want people thinking you are a stupid idiot, you already know that. And you'll never shake that off, however much you like it.

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