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Entries in snow (5)


Yes, I cycled

My preferred method of commuting is by bike. It's been my preferred method of commuting for a long time now, and I suspect it will be for a long time to come. I enjoy the exercise, I get lots of beautiful sunsets and sunrises, and it's just so much better than driving I can't even begin to explain. In the summer, noone really questions that. It's light, warm, no problems. At this time of year though, I get constant stream of people saying things like "You didn't cycle today, did you?", and "I can't believe you're still cycling, it's dark!".

See, here's the thing. It is possible to prepare for dark (hello, really bright lights and reflective stuff), and dress to make almost every type of weather ok. Yeah, almost. But it's not the rain that causes problems, or even snow (that much, anyway).


It's high winds that cause me most issues. And ice, but in this country it's windy considerably more often than it's icy. There's pretty much nothing I can do to make cycling on narrow roads with lots of traffic safe in gusting winds, so I do drive occasionally. My cut off is usually a forecast of over 20mph during commuting times. (I used to have a cut off of 15mph when I lived in Cambridgeshire, but when I moved to Brighton I discovered that wouldn't let me cycle much. It's breezy by the sea.) I could probably go a bit higher if I didn't have parking at work, but I do, so. 

Still, I cycle more days than not all year round, and there are some tricks I've picked up that make this time of year a lot more bearable. There was an interesting article on the Boston Globe recently called the "Anatomy of a Winter Cyclist", detailing what a cyclist who commutes in massively sub-zero temperatures wears. There were a few differences in what I would consider sensible over here, because we're dealing with different conditions. My big problem isn't extreme cold - we don't get much below freezing, after all - but wet.

(It's worth noting that the outfit in the picture above was taken a couple of years back, when I was cycling with Clarkie on a run. I'd never wear that much in this country if I'm going full speed. I'd get far too sweaty!)

Getting wet at temperatures not far above freezing is deeply uncomfortable, and there are big, unavoidable puddles even on days that it isn't raining. The canvas shoes that the winter rider in that Boston Globe piece used would not work for me, even with the wind covers. I have good, full-length mudguards, and still end up with wet and muddy shoes most days.

Mudguard Fail

(That's an old picture, I have better mudguards now so it doesn't spray up quite as far. Same principle though.)

I wear walking boots in winter for cycling, because they are waterproof. At the current temperatures I wear a fetching pair of ankle gaiters as well, which keeps my trousers (a pair of cheap, baggy, hard-wearing army-surplus combats) out of the chain. I don't bother if I'm wearing shorts, which is most of the year. I wear a waterproof jacket for around three quarters of the year anyway, layering up or down as required underneath - currently a long-sleeve merino base layer and a fleece gilet. I use my Oakleys, but with clear lenses. I have a lovely pair of mittens that I really like, but if it's raining (or below freezing - I'm a wuss) I cover them with a pair of ripstop over-mittens that I made. They look silly, but work, which kind of sums up my headgear too. I'm still wearing the really silly earwarmers that I made back in 2010 because I don't like wearing hats under my helmet but hate getting cold ears. If it's raining I wear my waterproof trousers as well, over the boots but under the gaiters. Chances are I'll turn up looking like a drowned rat, but I'm dry under the waterproof layer! 

I shower and change at work, so I don't have to worry about getting sweaty, and what I look like on the bike really isn't terribly important to me. Being on the bike really is important to me though, so yes, if you ask, I probably did cycle, and yes, I probably will tomorrow too! 


Snow run

Warning, this is going to be quite a picture-heavy post. Not me running this time. Clarkie's turn to be putting in some long miles. I'm not due for mine until Tuesday! 

Running in the snow

This was Rottingdean on the way out. She was supposed to do 10 miles. Normally speaking, we'd do 6 miles out (2 miles downhill through Rottingdean to the sea front, 4 miles of flat along the front) then 4 miles back and get the bus back up the hill. Sadly, the bus wasn't running today. I'm honestly not sure why, the road was clear of snow and it was no worse than a rainy day. However, this meant we just went out for nearly 5 miles along the undercliff walk (which wasn't snowy at all), then turned around and came back along the top once we got past the marina (9.5 miles in total). Clarkie used our set of Yaktrax walkers to get through the worst of the snowy stuff, although she's not sure they were completely comfy for that length of time they were pretty good. 


Brighton is looking kind of pretty. This was just past the turn around.


Roedean, the girls' boarding school.

Kipling Gardens

Rottingdean church

Kipling gardens and the church back in Rottingdean again.

I accompanied by bike (I have to cycle back whether the buses are running or not!). I love my bike and how well it just copes.


I did have gloves on, I'd taken one off to fish the camera out of my pocket. I was extremely warm in that lot, too warm getting back up the hill!

So maybe snow isn't so bad after all. Maybe I'll have to try and remember that in future, and just enjoy the extra light. Maybe...




Snow day

It happens about once per winter I guess, when we suddenly get enough snow to cause chaos. Today was the day for Winter 2013 (hopefully). As I didn't have any pressing need to be in uni today, I downloaded a load of papers to read yesterday, and stayed home (after a short run at 9). 

However, as I am a geek, I took hourly photos. I tried to embed the slideshow, but it's a little big. You can see it here though!

I'm sort of hoping it will have miraculously cleared enough overnight that we can get to parkrun over in Hove tomorrow, but since they still aren't sending any buses up our road I guess I'm probably not going to get there. Maybe I'll just have to test out my yaktrax around here instead!




I just ran home, along the path up the side of the fields, through the ankle-deep, semi-frozen snow. 


I'm not sure I recognise this person. I seem to be determined at the moment to get out there whatever the weather, to prove to myself that it's just not that big a deal. It's certainly challenging my body, but I am finding that it's not as bad as it looks most of the time. Strange. 

This was a slow run though. Much walking, particularly up the field sections. That meant I was better able to admire the view, if nothing else. 

View across the South Downs

Out towards Lewes. The sun was actually setting behind me when I took this. 

Across the fields to Brighton

Further up the hill, looking down towards Brighton. It looks so black. According to friends who live in the middle it didn't snow there at all, which is probably adding to the contrast. 

It was actually quite fun though. The wind was cold, but I was wearing a windproof. My shoes are wet (I was wearing my inov8 bare grips - I love those shoes for off road) but I didn't really notice. When I got to the flatter bits I discovered that if I walked right I could walk/run on top of the snow without breaking through. 

Tread softly

The footprint on the left is mine, the one on the right was already there but shows how deep it was. When I made it back to the paved section the pavement was still very icy, but if I employed the same technique (bent knees, very small steps, no pushing off) I didn't slip. I think a lot of this would teach very good barefoot form. I'm not sure I'll try the experiment again though. Thursday I plan to run again, but into town. Should be much easier. 


December the second

I'm not sure why, but the second of the month seems to be more impressive than the first. That's twice in two years that's happened. This is what we woke up to this morning!

Overnight snow