The Iceman Cometh.

I know nothing of the play in the title, only that it seems like a good description of today’s ride. Below freezing temperatures at night have preserved quite a lot of the snow and a little more fell at breakfast time so I walked the dog and set out on the bike. Grip is reasonably good on the crispy snow and you can corner a little. On the first steep climb in the woods I was doing OK until I reached a more solid patch of ice. The rear wheel spun so I tried to dismount and push. Trying to stand was far harder than trying to ride and I struggled to drag the bike up the slope. I continued towards Birkacre with the ridiculous idea to ride the “Birkacre Race Route” where I’ve recently engaged in a virtual race with 2 other riders via the app. Strava. I still need to improve my best time by 12 seconds to regain the title of King of the Mountains for a fastest ever time but it was never going to happen today.

I started the lap cautiously on a farm track with compacted snow in the open. I had to concentrate to find the least icy line to avoid catastrophe and further down some of the snow had disappeared to leave a streak of mud. Back across an open, rutted, downhill field I had little control and really had to fight to stay upright. Not exactly the kind of riding I’m used to but exciting enough in it’s way. Next comes a section in a country park on the site of the old Birkacre mill which was closed in 1939. The snow was compacted to a treacherous surface but worse was to come. The track drops to cross a foot bridge and the slope was solid ice. A walker suggested I was brave if I intended to ride it whilst another said she’d film it for You’ve Been Framed in anticipation of my certain doom. cleverly I walked at the other side of a low fence in the snow and allowed the bike to slither down. I remounted, crossed the bridge and started the climb. With less foot traffic it was back to crispier snow and I managed to climb to the top, approaching the section of berms and jumps with some trepidation. Bikers have been riding it but it was difficult. The slightest touch of the back brake had the wheel locking but I was able to use this to aid turning. I was relieved to get down and to begin the long climb. In places the hard, frozen surface was better than the mud we had in December and although I wasn’t putting a massive effort in I was only around 4 minutes slower than my first ever try which had given me the KOM crown.

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Heading towards home with my shadow elongated in the afternoon sun.
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If we get this type of snow all over the riding will be better.

I rode down into Duxbury Woods, again struggling at gates, where the ice was more compressed. Riding alongside the river on the undulating trail wasn’t too hard and I managed to get back to the road without falling off. It was quite hard going to ride on snow even though I wasn’t going very quickly, so the ride was worthwhile from a training point of view. I’m now hoping for a good covering of snow in the next few days because it will give me a better ride like I had 3 days ago. After that roll on spring!!

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