Sunday, 7 December 2008

Saw it coming, but couldn't take evasive action.

The weather's turned much colder, these last couple of days -3, and -6 degrees yesterday and today respectively. I've been off work, this weekend, no commutes, and so decided to cycle my usual loop down and up the valley. Getting up at about 06.30, late for me, I was out and riding down the valley by 07.00, it was still dark but the sky was lightening from black to light blue, and the stars disappearing, as the sun rose behind me.

Normally I wear baggy shorts, with my knees bare, but discretion being the better part of valour, and to combat the cold, which has been getting into the old knees of late, I wore some work trousers over them. On top of that, my left knee has been giving me some irritation, this past week or so, a strain I suppose. I've always had trouble with my left knee, since my soccer and rugby playing days, I badly strained the capsular ligament when I was sweet 16, which left a permanent weakness. Whenever I've had an accident since, it always seems to be my left knee that takes a direct hit, ouch, in fact double ouch!

The ride was going great, and I was enjoying the icy air, and the solitude. I'd brought my camera along to get a few shots, the strange names of local farms, the remains of old building long disinhabited, and any wildlife I might happen upon. It was too dark on the way down, but light enough on the trip back up the valley. Making my first stop just outside Ynysarwed, I was going to take a photo of a farm gate, with its unusual name, Bwlchfaron. I clicked, but nothing, no flash, no red or green light, the camera seemed dead? I had no idea what was wrong, so gave up and resigned myself, both to putting in new batteries later on, and not being able to take any of the pictures, the occasional reader of this blog, might like to peruse. That's the way the cookie crumbles sometimes, I suppose.

So I continued my ride back up the valley to Glynneath, stopped at McDonalds, had a cappocino with plenty of sugar, my feet were freezing at this stage, foolishly I hadn't bothered to put on my new overshoes. Fortunately the coffee, and the warmth of the restaurant brought them back to life, ready for the last mile and a half home.

As normal I set off heading toward and then through the village, taking a side road that runs parallel with the main road, to avoid traffic, not that there's much early on a Saturday morning. Whilst turning into this side road, I could see ice, not just frost on the road a couple of yards ahead, not that I was travelling fast, but it was too late to take evasive action. First the front wheel went, then the back wheel, both in different directions, or so it felt.

Fortunately, because I had recognised it was ice ahead, I was prepared a little, and so with wheels striving in different directions, I was able to throw myself one way, while at the same time heaving the bike in the other. I still managed to hit the ground with a veritable thump, but because I was wearing long trousers, my Network Rail vi-vis coat and my gloves, I was able to get away with just a sore elbow. Plus the Subway 1 came off unscathed, so all in an experience with no cost, other than my damaged ego.

It might have been a different story had it still been dark, and I had no inkling that ice was in front of me.

8 comments:

Nick said...

Glad you're OK. I must confess that ice is the one hazard that makes me put the bike in the shed and walk. I can cope with everything else, snow included (it's snowing as I write this), but ice? No thanks.

Doug said...

Happy you were undamaged. Believe me, I know how easily things can go the other way.

cyclingred said...

Most of my falls have happened on ice and/or snow. So what should that tell us about riding in those conditions?

welshcyclist said...

If I'd known the ice was there I wouldn't have gone riding, but the weather here is so deceptive at this time. The bad news is I went on my commute to work yesterday morning, and the same thing happened at about 12 miles in. Even worse, I'm afraid both my Subway 1 and myself sustained damage. Consequently I'm off work for at least a week with a bashed up left knee, and shoulder. What's so annoying is I had a good look out before leaving, and decided it was safe to travel by bike, and all the way I didn't get a hint of ice anywhere, until I was on the floor in pain. It's left me wondering if I will be able to keep commuting all through the winter. How do all you guys stay upright in the wintery conditions?

Nick said...

They actually grit (the major) bike paths round here when snow and/or ice are expected, so it's not so hard to stay upright on the way to and from work.

Recover quickly!

welshcyclist said...

Lack of gritting and salting of the car park, I cut across, was the cause. Never had a problem there before, next time I'll stick to the roads. They grit the bike paths in your part of the world, I'm impressed Nick. I'm desperately hoping for a quick recovery, the weather's great here, wintery sunshine.

Doug said...

Two words: Studded Tyres.

welshcyclist said...

Sadly Doug, as yet I've only been able to track down studded tyres in the USA, Germay, Sweden etc., nothing homegrown, but I'll keep looking.