When I left home on Monday morning (21 Dec 09) at 07h45, it was still darkish and freezing cold, with ice everywhere. As I cycled towards Laira bridge, I passed over a few roads that I doubt had ever been gritted, so I went slowly and carefully.
After crossing Billacombe rd by the bridge, I took the cycle path that takes you out on the Embankment. Cycling along here I was very surprised by the number of bike tracks left in the ice. Fresh tracks, made that same morning. It's good to know several other cyclists still cycle in weather like this, and it was also re-assuring to know that other cyclists managed to stay upright on the ice.
My real concern was the Plym valley path, as at the best of times it can be damp in places.
Cutting through Sainsbury's at Marsh Mills I had a quick wake-up call on a patch of black ice I hadn't noticed, but fortunately all that involved was the rear-end sliding out a tad and the bike practically recovered by itself. I cycled on with a slightly elevated heart rate and a grim determination.
The start of the Plym valley path, right next to Princess Yachts, was completely ice free, probably due to the fact that it is almost a tunnel through the vegetation. Not long after I saw the first signs of ice. Well, to be honest, it looked like the path was wet, but not icy, so I figured it'd be fine to cycle on through. Tellingly there were NO cycle tracks left anywhere here!
After a short while I stopped to make up my mind whether I was riding on ice, or water. It was then that I discovered that apparently I can cycle with reasonable ease on ice, but that walking on it was VERY tricky! Haven't quite figured that one out yet.
A while later the ice on the path had cleared, but the canal next to it was still frozen solid. The picture doesn't quite do it justice, so I took another.
I don't normally take many photos while cycling, as it means I must take off my gloves, take my phone out from its armoured case on my handlebars, minimise the GPS app I use (www.sportypal.com - highly recommended!) before taking a pic, then I've got to do it all in reverse sequence again.
Given that I had my phone out, I also took a picture of the trusty steed, a.k.a. the black bike.
Almost everything that is grey or white in colour is covered in ice.
I cycled all the way to Plym Bridge, where I had a giggle at a car driver that refused to accept the fact that the car park was essentially an ice rink, and tried driving on it. It was like something out of Holiday on Ice gone wrong!
I returned the same way I had come, except I went via Saltram House instead of Embankment road. This gave me the opportunity to see the remains of the rock slide that had closed the path a while ago. Fortunately they've cleared most of it away.
By now there was some light snow falling, but not heavy enough to settle, and I cycled home. I was very cold, bearing in mind I was wearing cycling tights, a cycling jersey and a waterproof cycling jacket only. Normally this would be more than good enough and over an 8 mile trip like this one I'd work up quite a sweat, even in freezing temperatures. This time, however, I had to cycle so slowly that I simply didn't warm up. Fortunately home was just a mile or two away!
Overall I cycled roughly 3 miles on ice, with several suspect areas in between. When I arrived back home my neighbour was just pushing his bike out of his house, so we exchanged a few niceties. It was then that he told me he had fallen three times the day before because of ice, while cycling the Plym valley cycle path. Given that he's probably a better cyclist than what I am, this leads me to believe that either I got lucky, or he was going much faster than what I had done. Either way I'm happy - not falling is always a bonus!