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Reflections On Cycling In A Snowstorm

December 12th, 2010 12 comments


“You didn’t really go cycling, did you?

Cycling In A Snowstorm

We have been asked this about 1,000 times in the last few days. Yes, we did go cycling. No, we didn’t know there was a “code orange” weather alert in Holland (how would we know? we were on our bikes). Yes, there was a lot of snow. You might even call it a storm. Yes, we camped in the storm too. No, we weren’t cold. Yes, it was fun! Would we do it again? Heck, yes.

Andrew cycling in the storm

Most people avoid the cold as they get older. We crave it, or perhaps we simply crave the adventure that cycling in the snow and cold brings. Take a country like Holland, where we live. It’s nice but, well, a bit predictable on a bicycle. Tulips, windmills, canals. All lovely, but if you’ve been cycling around the country for a while you start looking for something different. A snowstorm. Now that adds a whole new dimension to things!

Snow covers the landscape and makes it beautiful in a way that you’ve rarely experienced before. More than that, it scares off most of the cars and deadens the sound of your own bike on the road. Even normally bustling towns and busy roads become beautifully silent places. Only your bike tracks through the snow prove that you were ever there at all and even they will soon be dusted away by the flakes that are constantly falling from the sky.

Silent Snow Cycling

Cycling in the snow also pushes you to your limits. You work harder than normal to push the bike forward, and marvel at just how much slush can gather on those spokes and under that mudguard.

Slushy Mudguard

And you relish the little treats in life, like the companionship of friends and hot tea out of the thermos – things that are too easily taken for granted in warmer weather.

Friends & Hot Tea

Oh sure, you have to be prepared for winter cycling. We layered up heavily. We packed sleeping mats and sleeping bags both rated for temperatures well below freezing. And we went with the “this might not always be easy” attitude that is necessary for cycling in such fickle weather. We pampered ourselves with frequent stops in cafes, multiple cups of hot chocolate and a huge piece of cake and then used this stored energy to get through the difficult end of the day when the storm reached its peak. Daylight ran out and we still had to pedal 10km through deep snow to the campground, with barely a scrap of energy to spare.

It was tough. Those last few kilometers were beyond tough actually, slipping and sliding on uncleared paths in the dark, discovering that the cold weather had given Andrew his first nosebleed in years and being just plain tired. But would we have traded this day in the snow for the world? Not a chance. In fact, when spring comes, the tulips pop up and the bike paths are bustling, we might even wish more days on the bike were like this one. Magical.

Having fun, despite the tough ride!

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10 Responses to “Reflections On Cycling In A Snowstorm”

  1. Peter Jordan says:

    Fantastic! Nothing should stop you going out in all elements. As long as you have the right gear it’s great fun. And you get to test your gear and see how good it is. How about some more pictures?
    Peter

    • friedel says:

      Hi Peter,

      We don’t have many more pictures – one of the problems of cycling in a group (you can’t tell everyone to stop all the time, just because you want to take a picture). I hope it snows like this again here, so we get another chance to go out and photograph the landscape and the cycling.

  2. joolz says:

    Love your positive attitude! You’re so right, cycling in ‘bad’ weather is not impossible, as a lot of people think.

  3. Sheila says:

    LOVE IT!!! And you guys feel like rock stars now, right?! (not that you weren’t already!)

    P.S. I also love riding in the snow — quiet like no other and magical.mystical.beautiful flakes falling, nothing else like it.

  4. Rik says:

    Sweet memories of blasting through the Haagse Bos in the snow. check this out (via Boing! Boing!) too: http://www.boingboing.net/2010/12/11/its-a-blizzard-grab.html

  5. ted edwards says:

    Hi Guys
    Great report and pictures.Your luckier than me because I went out when most of the snow had gone and still managed to fall off.Mind you only having 25mm tyres did not help.
    Stay warm and safe and on about thursday we in the UK are expected to get more of the white stuff.Even though we know that now the UK will still come to an halt.
    Regards

    Ted

  6. Tyler says:

    Beautiful framing on the second photo Friedel. This post is making us miss winter! We’ll have to get cold weather gear when we get home.

    T & T

  7. Lorenzo says:

    That’s amazing you guys, would have loved to see some camp pics but those sure give the feeling!
    Hope to make a 2 days tour here in Italy as well during Cmas vacations… it can get quite snowy in the Alps!
    What scares me the most about winter is actually not the cold nor the weather, but low visibilty a bike has on car lanes which can be very dangerous. Also very few drivers expect crazy cyclists riding in the snow!

    As for how great is is I m with you all the way

  8. Hi,

    You seem to had a lot of fun. Since we are Canadian and old we prefer to ride in warmer condition like here in Moroco. We know a lot about snow so lets keep it away from us for a while. You are just right Friedel like you said ”Most people avoid the cold as they get older” it is so right for Lysanne. :o)

    You are just right, riding or playing in snow is just a lot of fun.

    But for now lets enjoy the sand dune.

    L & L

  9. Blaine says:

    I’ve only ridden in the snow a couple times, but it was great! Even roads I’ve ridden many times had a new interest and a more serene feel to them.

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