Monday, February 6, 2012

Snow–be careful what you wish for :-)

Sunday, 5th February 2012: We don’t get a great deal of precipitation here in the east, and very little generally falls as snow. So on Saturday we considered the weather forecast with some scepticism. Actually we usually view the weather forecast with scepticism all the time. The east was promised or 10cm of snow – and we started getting it on Saturday evening. If you follow the link there is a fairly big spike from about 9am onwards.

So when we woke on Sunday morning it was to a quiet world blanketed in white. I think that snow helps to deaden sound, but it was bad enough to stop people driving as well.

I know I said I enjoy cycling in snow, well I guess I ought to qualify that statement. I like cycling on fresh powdery snow, that isn’t too thick, on roads that are not icy and where vehicles have been along to compress it into slidy stuff or mush it up into slushy slidy stuff.

The snow on Sunday morning was all of that in places and too thick in others. It hadn’t been that windy, but there were small drifts in places. Cycling on snow is about keeping an even pace and maintaining momentum as well as having some idea as to what is underneath the snow.

I went out quite early on Sunday and found it hard work so I stuck to the roads and didn’t actually get that far. However I did go out later with my wife for a walk, so these are a mix of pictures.

As you can see the snow coverage was pretty complete.

Once of the main roads then the roads tended to be rather snow-covered and the shared-use paths even more so. NCN51 runs along here between Bottisham and Swaffham Bulbeck. However the shared-use path is more of a tidal cycle path for kids to get to and from school off the road.

When cycling I stayed in the tracks of cars, trying to be sensitive to any lightening from the front wheel that comes just before it washes away.  I didn’t fall of my bike at all, I did have to put my feet down quite a few times though.

Although going slow shouldn’t be that hard I had wrapped up and found it quite hot-going. The wind had lined the trees with a layer of snow on the prevailing direction.

The same trees.

A bit further up the road – it seems that most vehicles stuck to tracks somewhere in the middle. There were tracks much closer to the pavement (shared-use) and it made me wonder how on earth the driver knew where the pavement was – well it was guesswork, every now and then the tracks would “bump” into the kerb.

Another snow scene.

One thing that the snow did do was bring back childhood memories – you go out with some excitement to a white world, but fairly quickly you start getting very cold and the icy air chills you lungs. About the only problem I didn’t suffer from was my wellies getting stuffed with snow.

When I got home it was like walking into a sauna, despite the fact we tend not to keep out house at a very high temperature. So after a warming cup of coffee I was back out again. We have a “Narnia” lamp post in the garden  and what caught my eye was the red dots around it of the Cotoneaster berries.

A cyclist out braving the elements and sticking to the tracks in the road – a bit clearer later in the day.

My wife and I went out for a walk and admired the various snowmen we saw. Indeed we seemed to see more people out “taking the snow” than you would see out for a Summer’s day stroll. People were also more inclined to stop and chat. Snow still has a magical quality, when you don’t see that much of it, and as it fell on a Sunday more people were free to enjoy it rather than be hampered by it.


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