The white stuff

Car tyre tracks in snowI’m sat looking at pretty snow falling, and can’t help but laugh as it has become the central topic of conversation in the office. Will the schools close? Who will be working from home? Where can you buy bread if more than a centimetre of the stuff falls? I think people quite enjoy the panic it causes.

I love snow. At school when I was young, I remember a dozen noses pressed to the window, willing every flake to cling to the ground so the inevitable snowball fight could ensue, and then allow the subsequent day off from school. I love skiing for much the same reason, and also that it’s broadly comparable to riding a motorbike, being outside in the elements and at speed.

And so the next few days must bring two of my loves together, motorcycles and snow; not two things renowned as being remotely harmonious. For some reason at this time of year I always feel the need to seek reassurance from others, usually via internet chat forums, asking complete strangers their advice on staying upright in these slippery conditions. Of course I’m always met with the cries of being nuts, mentally deficient or just being an idiot; but in my eyes the only idiots are the ones that reserve their motorbikes for perfect conditions. There are however, a few riders out there slightly longer in the tooth that offer sound advice, like to let some air out of the tyres, or to use washing up liquid to polish your visor (it stops it fogging up) and it’s these tips that make it that bit more comfortable.

A few years ago, I was on my way to see a good friend in Bridlington, At the time I had a Yamaha Thundercat which was a really lovely bike, and the short wheelbase made it perfect for my slighter build. It began snowing as I approached Stamford Bridge and intensified as I plodded on. What is normally an hour and a half’s ride took me well in excess of four hours. I ended up riding at about 20mph on the grass verge because it was the one part of the carriageway that offered any traction whatsoever. 15 minutes after Stamford Bridge with snow drifts forming on my gloves I had to pull in for the first of many ‘hands and carburettor stops’, where I placed my hands on the exhaust to warm them, and let the carburettor thaw and the melt-water splutter it’s way through.

On one particular stop a slightly mad fella in a landrover pulled in and offered to put me and the bike in the back. After assuring him that neither the bike would fit, nor could only the two of us lift it, he left me to my desolate journey.

I made it in the end, after much shivering and stopping, and Andy being a true lad suggested a curry to warm me through, perfect suggestion and one which I embraced wholly.

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