Slick and Tyred

November 19, 2013

So the unexpected downside of having amazing spiked winter tyres for your bike is the amount of emotional energy that goes into deciding when to actually deploy them. The easiest thing would probably be just to put them on the bike in November and keep them on there until the end of March but they are quite heavy and also quite expensive and riding them solidly for five months would wear them out too quickly. On the other hand, swapping the wheels around is not an entirely straightforward process, especially with the dynamo, and is much better done by the other half, for reasons we’ve discussed exhaustively already, so a bit of forward planning is required.

This morning, despite all the dire forecasts, things weren’t looking too bad by the time I ventured out on the bike. Fortunately (or unfortunately) one of the worst spots for ice on our road is the bit just outside our gate so I can usually decide whether or not to risk the ice spikeless by standing on the road and doing the little ‘how slippy is it?’ dance.* Today the verdict was that it was just about doable, with care and so it proved – although I had forgotten just how paranoid-making it is to cycle on a patchily icy road on normal tyres. This meant I spent most of the ride down mentally debating whether I should have just swapped the tyres myself or whether I should get the other half to swap the tyres tonight or whether I should stick it out until the weekend and if so how long before I’d have to take them off again, and the rest looking out for icy patches, leaving no mental cycles for my usual cycling activities of admiring the view, arguing in my head with people who have been wrong on the internet (I always win when I’m on my bike) and thinking deep thoughts.

Which is how I managed to look up and suddenly discover a kestrel flying straight at me, being chased by a raven. Both birds veered off before I had to take evasive action, which given the conditions was probably fortunate. I assume had it been a tractor heading straight for me instead I would have noticed sooner, but I can’t be 100% sure…

Maybe I’ll just put those tyres on and have done with it after all.

*you sort of twist your feet around from side to side along the lines of the dance scene from Pulp Fiction. Best done when no passing dog walkers, farmers or neighbours are watching


A Weasel is Weasily Recognised*

October 18, 2008

Well, well, well, you learn something new every day. As I was riding down to the garage this morning for the paper just for a change, a long thin scuttling beastie crossed my path. I assumed it was a weasel just because I’ve always called those little scurrying things weasels, stoats seeming somewhat out of my league. But having looked it up on t’internet, it turns out that the black tip to the tail – plus the fact that it was big enough for me to think it was a squirrel at first glance – marks it out as a stoat. A nice addition to my list of positively identified wildlife I’ve seen from my bike. Not only that but a kestrel took the chance to show itself off in a sudden patch of sunshine, gliding and darting through a field of indifferent sheep. Throw in a wren, darting across at ankle-height on furiously flapping stubby little wings, and the top of a telegraph pole that suddenly transformed itself into a buzzard and flew heavily away, and the fact that I came back with a paper at all seems like a bonus, rather than the whole point of the ride. (The roadkill total was also enhanced to the tune of one dead badger, but let’s not dwell on that one).

*Whereas a stoat is stotally different