So, today was already looking complicated: my bike booked in for a (long overdue) service and a meeting at one end of town, followed by a meeting right at the other end of town, both of which would be easily accessible had I had my bike but which would be a total slog to get between without.
And that was all before I woke up to this:
Snow untouched by anything but a few hares’ footprints is lovely, but it is a daunting surface to cycle on. Especially when it turns out to be a bastard mixture of snow, ice and meltwater.
I couldn’t even put on my magical ice tyres because the gears on my bike needed serviced so there was nothing for it but to make sure I had that number one piece of safety equipment, plenty of time, walk down to the road end, where the B road starts, put on my big girl pants and set off.
I’m not going to lie, I’ve had better bike rides. The B-road had been treated but not ploughed so I was mostly able to cycle on tarmac rather than ice, but there were still sections of snow on some of the bends and some of it was rutted enough to make for some squeaky moments. When I’d turned off the B-road and onto a quiet back roads again at least I wasn’t dealing with much traffic, but that meant there was only really one set of wheel tracks which were clear of snow; once I was in them it was safe enough, but if they went straight over a pothole then I had no choice but to follow (it also meant that no, Mr Jeep Driver, I wasn’t going to move out of the relatively safe wheel track so that you in your four-by-four could keep driving along them the other way so beeping at me was counterproductive). The only thing I really had going for me was that I’d managed to wear my brakes down to the point that even if I lost my nerve I couldn’t jam them on anyway, which is the worst thing you can do on an icy surface.
Once in town, things improved somewhat in that the roads were clear enough. It was only when I had dropped the bike off and started walking to my first meeting that I registered why all the pedestrians were doing penguin impressions: the pavements were pretty much entirely black ice, even around the school. They were only safely passable by sticking right next to the walls, walking on the grass verges, or just giving up and walking in the road. Remind me how the sustainable transport hierarchy goes again?
Fortunately, the temperature was rising and by the time I got out of the first meeting the ice was gone and I was able to get back to pick up my bike in time for the next. There really is nothing like a freshly serviced bike* on a freshly deiced road for suddenly feeling as you have wings.
* New bottom bracket, new drive train, new gear cables, new brake blocks (‘mind you don’t come off when you use these, because they will actually stop your bike’) and – apparently – no longer wonky handlebars (‘I don’t know how you were even riding that bike’).