środa, 16 stycznia 2013

The art of cycling on a snow

"Are we cycling today to school?!" - said a text message I got this morning from my new bicycle buddy.
"Of course we are! Why, are you scared? We're from Poland, we're not afraid of snow!" - I immidiately answered.

It's winter again in the Netherlands. During one night a fluffy, white down covered the whole world and I really hope it's gonna stay for a bit longer this time. Last month it disapeared within two days. Sometimes I have a feeling, that Dutch people are terribly afriad of the snow. There's barely 5 centimeters of it on a ground and the whole country is already standing still. Traffic jams, delayed trains, many people decided to stay home and with their boss permission work from there. I'm not gonna even mention about the airports. Ok, to be honest it was a bit more of the snow in the west part of Holland... 15 cm.

Winter or not - I have to go to school. At least I should. If the Dutch can cycle throughout the whole year, we can't be different (meaning worse)! Besides how often do you have a chance to cycle through a snowdrift? Ok, maybe I went to far with that snowdrift... on a snow. You just have to remember about few golden rules of cycling in this winter aura and than it's a piece of cake. As a conscientious rapporteur I tested those rules for you guys (meaning I tried to break them). I didn't break any bone, didn't get hurt and my amazing cat agilityand reflex saved me from falling on my ass. However I did a spectacular drift.

That's more less how small roads look like... white :)
I'm already answering you curious questions: no, my bike doesn't have any kind of winter tires. I don't even know a single person, who would have those and this idea seems grotesque. One of my dear readers have sent me once a link to a website with special winter bicycles... I didn't know if I should be amazed, excited or terrified. Neverthless I fell of the chair. Speaking of winter tires, they are not very popular in the Netherlands (I mean the car tires now). That might be one of the explanations why there are always such a long traffic jams in winter. However the truth is, that is the road service is reacting on time, the highways, main streets (and popular bicycle lanes) are black. After all they are not saving on salt (used on the roads to melt the snow and ice). White road you can find only in some villages or inside the residential areas. 

Let's now come to the point. How to cycle on a snow? What shall you do or not? If you're gonna stay focused and careful enough, it's actually really fun! So my dear Readers, I present you...

  1. Watch out for the speed. In winter it's better to ride a bit slower and cautious for a very simple reason... breaking on snow/ice is not easy. 
  2. Keep you leg (or hand) out of the breaks. Hard and sudden breaking is almost a guarantee of slipping and eventually falling of the bike. If you need to stop fast use you shoes for breaking and jump of the bike (unless you have very long legs... I don't).
  3. Stay away from the snowdrifts. If you're already riding in a rut on a snow, go along it and keep the balance. If you're gonna try to cross it, you bicycle may fall. 
  4. Be especially cautious and slow on the corners and curves covered with snow/ice. I hope I don't have to explain why ;) That's exactly where I did my bicycle drift, so on a sharp turn I recommend a version "on the foot" or taking a wide berth. 
  5. I you already have to fall, please kindly head into the closest snowdrift and don't make any obstacle on the lane. Don't make other bicyclists life harder than it has to be ;)
  6. And the last: GOOD LUCK!

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