Pretty as the snow is, as day follows night, ice follows snow. With the next few days forecast to be sunny but barely creeping above freezing, and our road looking like a skating rink, it was time to put the ice tyres on the bike.
Although first, I had to evict a wannabe fellow traveller.
Given my well-documented travails getting Marathon tyres on and off my bike, I have opted to use a set of old wheels with the tyres on and swap those instead, which come with their own problems, not least the fact that the back wheel is wider than my normal back wheel. Also, after a wet and filthy winter so far, the bike is suffering a little from neglect as became painfully obvious once I got it upside down and took the wheels off (every year I vow this will be the year that I regularly clean my bike and oil the chain before it starts doing its basket of kittens impression, and every year turns out not to be that year).
Having dug a few handfuls of what looked like quite nice topsoil out of the mudguards and then bodged the fact that the rivet holding the rear mudguard away from the wheel was apparently only being held on by said topsoil (hello, duct taping the loose struts out of the way of the wheel) and spent a painful few minutes tightening the wheels, loosening the wheels to straighten them so they didn’t rub the non-centring brakes, tightening the wheels again, accidentally loosening them because ‘righty tighty, lefty loosey’ doesn’t work when you’re me and doing this all upside down, and repeating until my fingers were numb, I had a bike with two working spikey wheels and I’d even found all the tools that had managed to dematerialise themselves in the process (hello allen keys that drop out of the socket and just … vanish. Where do you go?).
Then it was time to test them out and as so often happened, I started wondering if I shouldn’t have bothered as soon as I was on the main road. The pleasant ice-krispy sound of the studs on tarmac weren’t able to drown out the noise of a grumbling drive train on an old set of cogs, nor the thrum of a bodged mudguard fouling the rear wheel when under too much pressure. The chain dropped off a couple of times in protest at it all, and after all that effort, it seemed like there was no ice anyway. We might have had snow up round us, but all seemed clear once I’d dropped down into the valley .. at least, until I encountered various groups of walkers doing the ‘penguin dance’ on the black ice along the road. A couple of them commented that I was doing well to stay upright at all, giving me the opportunity to tell them about my ice tyres which – for all their issues – had retained their key magical property of keeping me rubber side down.
This helped power me back up the hill, for all that each one weighs almost a kilo. There’s no better winter warmer than the smug glow of knowing you’ve got magic tyres on your bike.
And speaking of magic:
I’m hoping these work in the way new rain gear works – i.e. they stop punctures altogether. But failing that, I hope they mean I can actually mend a puncture AND get the tyres back on without creating another one. Because that truly would be magical.