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Thursday, 23 December 2010


THis is from a cycle blog I read:

""..One London newspaper thought it would be best to give their readers a warning as to what lies ahead.

On Tuesday, The Guardian published a guide to walking on snow and ice. In fact, the paper even consulted a doctor for their list of expert tips.

In the introduction to the article, the editors wrote “that only penguins are really designed for the snow and ice” – a huge surprise to those of us dealing with those conditions a good six months of the year.

Dr. Luisa Dilner advised the obviously delicate residents of Britain not to “talk on your mobile phone or even reach into your pocket,” as that could trigger a fall.

“If you are pregnant,” Dr Dilner continues, “You have already shifted your centre of gravity and should be tucked up at home with a box set of Mad Men.”

That’s right, Canadian women – you thought you could make it through the winter without much change to your regular routine, but it turns out you actually need to hibernate like a bear.

Tell your boss the doctor said so.

And forget about biking. The Guardian doesn't mention it, for fear of causing the English to clutch their pearls in horror, certainly - but it's likely not recommended.

The same goes for carrying heavy boxes and a host of activities many Canadians undertake without much thought at all.

“People who know about snow (climbers mostly) say that ice grips worn over shoes can prevent falls,” Dr. Dilner concludes.

Actually, that’s Canadians, mostly – and most of manage to get around just find without resorting to warnings like these: “However you have to take ice grips off on smooth indoor surfaces and they don't work on black ice because nothing does. Except being a penguin.”"

It is very funny. I have been cycling throughout the winter and have noticed the numbers of cyclists drastically reduce as it has gotten colder. It's not actually that cold - averages about minus five, daytime, and cycling is possible. There are a couple of England-specific dangers though, particularly drivers of motorized vehicles. English drivers do not change their driving habits for anyone, anything or any condition. It seems related to the old War spirit that gets referenced in the media far to often for a healthy national psyche, and is almost as if they are saying:

"Hitler could'nt make us surrender, there's no way I'm going to give in to a bit of snow and ice".

THis extends, in many cases to taking absolutely no precautions whatsoever in winter - there are now snow tyres, no one alters their tyre pressure and apart from volume purchases of windscreen de-icer, driving habits stay the same. The result of this is that the sight of a 'boy-racer' in a souped up Mini, wheels spinning furiously at standstill, engine revving and a bead of sweat trickling form under the brim of his (reversed) baseball cap and going absolutely no-where is not unusual.

Mostly, this is amusing, but for cyclists, it can be very dangerous. We get no extra space, no consideration for the fact that roadsides are very icy and many ( I would say most) drivers still overtake millimetrically with almost zero tolerance. Every time there is a particularly close shave, I revive a fantasy I have had number of years, which is to capture the offending driver, tie them to a chair and then get a big hammer attached to a piece of string and swing it at their heads, trying to get as close as I can without actually hitting. In the case of many 8 wheeler drivers though, the intention would be to make contact.

Unfortunately, I am to become a driver for a few days, as we are renting a vehicle today for the holiday period. A big part of me fervently hopes the weather is too bad for travel, as these roads scare me. And, I have to admit, a big part of me, despite everything said above, loves driving.

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