Riding On Thin Ice
The weather here’s been properly wintry over the last few days. It started off with a cold & clear weekend of heavy frosts and bright skies, and then descended into freezing rain, hail, sleet and all that jazz from Monday lunch time.
I was supposed to be on the BikeAbility instructors’ course from Monday to Thursday, but this involves a lot of teacher practice, outside on the roads. Our instructors decided that it was one thing for us to choose for ourselves that we were going to ride to the training sessions, but quite another for us to go out cycling under their instruction and responsibility for our safety. So the course was abandoned on Tuesday afternoon, and we’ll cover the outdoor work some time in late February, when the weather should be a little better.
But I’d arranged a meeting with a couple of prospective clients to take place yesterday morning before the training course. Finding a venue for an 8 a.m. meeting, that was close to where I’d planned to spend the rest of the day wasn’t so easy though, and I ended up suggesting the McDonalds at Silverlink. Yeah, I know - great way to impress prospective clients.
It had rained heavily on Tuesday night at around midnight, and then the sky had cleared again, and the temperature dropped. The perfect recipe for black ice.
So it was with a little trepidation that I set off for my meeting - cycling of course. I planned a route on main roads, and more specifically, bus routes, as I knew these would have been gritted & salted. Provided that I kept well out from the kerb, this worked pretty well, and I had clear tarmac to ride on. Some of the side roads I passed looked distinctly scary though, even in the pre-dawn light, you could see the sheen of ice right across them.
The last hundred yards or so were off the gritted roads - basically its the entrance to the Silverlink retail park that’s opposite the Menzies hotel, and then the turning into McDonalds itself. It wasn’t quite fully light, but I could see that the road wasn’t clear - it looked kinda slushy at best. First gear, nice and slow, cycling like I’m on tip-toes, and no problems at all though. When I got off my bike though, I started to slide sideways while just standing there. Hmmmm.
After the meeting, it was fully light, and while I was unlocking my bike, I got a good look at the road surface. It was just one big sheet of ice, mirror smooth, and with the added bonus of a slope to it. And I’d cycled across this 90 minutes earlier. Gulp!
I decided that discretion really is the better part of valour (or that there’s no point being a damned fool about this cycling everywhere thing), and timidly pushed Wilf back out and onto the main road before getting back on and riding off to the next meeting I’d scheduled.