For too long, the UK rain has been keeping me off the bike. It’s a well-used quote that “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing”, and this is true, but rain is rubbish.
Rain has a way of removing heat from your body like no other weather. Rain finds a way of trickling down the back of your neck. Rain results in damp doormats and sodden shed floors.
I don’t like rain. As a bespectacled man, rain is also a complete pain in the backside when it comes to seeing ANYTHING.
So I’ve kinda got used to not doing many miles. Recently, though, there’s been no rain…
There’s Been Snow
Snow’s different. Snow’s pretty. Snow’s compliant. Snow’s even grippy when it’s not been squashed or refrozen into ice.
I like snow.
On Sunday I layered up: Aldi base layers (£9 each, top & bottoms); Endura top; Ron Hill running bottoms; Aldi mid layer; Altura jacket; two buffs; a beanie hat; big Sealskinz gloves.
I made up a flask and was ready to go. Incidentally, this should have been Bovril but I was devastated to discover that my beloved had spotted the Bovril was out of date and disposed of it. I wrote “BOVRIL” on the shopping list and made myself some coffee.
My ride wasn’t particularly adventurous. I tested the ground conditions with an outward leg along the canalside to discover that the snow was wet enough and (mostly) deep enough to offer lots of grip, so with a smile I headed up past Hollingworth Lake onto the Pennine Bridle Way.
I wasn’t going fast. It was a good workout, with the snow slowing me down, rendering everything a virtual uphill. I just selected the granny ring, modulated my breathing so I wouldn’t die and plodded along. Bliss!
As I passed through a gate at the bottom of the hill past the M62 viaduct, a pleasant bloke on a shiny Specialized Camber 29er came alongside and we chatted for a few minutes about our bikes and estimated his timing for his return loop back to his car in Littleborough. If that was you, I hope you got back in time and I should’ve asked your name!
Turning uphill on the PBW towards Piethorne Reservoir I spotted a dark shape smack bang in the middle of the trail. A toad, maybe two-thirds the size of my fist, was crouched there slowly getting covered in the still-falling snow. I’m still not sure whether he was motionless because he perceived me coming along the trail (as he’d usually be camouflaged on that ground, but the obvious whiteness rendered that option a bit foolish) or whether he was, in fact, frozen to death and had already met his amphibious maker.
The trail down from the top of the hill towards Piethorne was exposed to the wind and had turned, over a few days of thawing and refreezing, into a cascading sheet of ice. Thankfully I was looking well ahead so steered onto the grass and opted to walk that section. My non-bruised hips will thank me for that decision!
More snow covered the trail a little lower down, so I climbed back aboard down to the reservoir and took the path alongside the water, until it joined the service road. From there I (carefully, with one foot dangling for support just in case the patches of ice along the road caught me by surprise) rolled down through Ogden into Newhey and back home.
If you like, you can see the ride on Strava here.
Go Out, Folks
Staying at home in the warm would have been the easier option by far, but I’m so glad I ventured out. It was only a shade over 11 miles but by staying off the well-trodden path and keeping my eyes on the scenery, I was able to truly enjoy my snowy, slip-sliding shenanigens.
Don’t let the snow keep you indoors. As I read somewhere else recently “enjoy the weather – you can’t change it“.
Tell ’em Phill sent you! 🙂