When is it too cold to ride safely?

Our weather has finally decided to show its wintry side – the floods and wheel-sprayed of the last month or so, have finally been replaced by the decisions around whether or not to risk the icy roads. Down here in Wiltshire our side roads are not well treated in the winter, so we face some riding on treacherous road surfaces until we hit the slightly bigger roads.

Frozen Bird Bath

We went out en masse during the Christmas and the chosen day was probably the only day when we had a proper frost. Fortunately it was a dry frost, the sort that turns the rod white and leaves tyre marks as you cycle through, so for much of the ride it was pretty much business as usual. Until the group split and went its separate ways, it was all fine, but the return trip threw up a few suprises. The first was a piece of road where spray from a puddle had frozen creating an icerink. But the more challenging bit was Gabriel’s climb, a short steep climb near Startley, and the decent from the top – all of that was a slippery walk in cleated shoes, as the road was completely iced.
To be fair, I’m running the bike on Vittoria Rubino Pros that I’ve had on since last summer, which are good when new, but not great when they wear down, and definitely not so hot in the winter. So I’m waiting for some Continental Gatorskins to arrive – which I’m hoping will be better suited for winter in Wiltshire.

The only other change I’ve made since Christmas is swap to SPDs, so that I can use my cozy Northwave Celsius winter boots. I know it breaks some Velominati rules, but they’re toasty boots on and off the bike.

The temperature is due to plummet this week, but it should be fine to get some rides in. If it stays dry, then the roads should be fine and the miles should sail past, without too much walking. Worst case, if it turns damp and the black ice returns, I’ll just head out on the mountain bike and break the ioce on the Fosse Way puddles.

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