Thursday, 8 December 2011

Week of Weather

Oh dear. Can this be right? Have I really let myself stoop so low as to write about weather? The answer is yes. There's plenty of other things to talk about (including my new netbook and further work related unhappiness) but I'm going to try not to be to broad. Instead I will talk about surviving (comfortably) the ride to work. 

The snow finally showed up on Monday. The white stuff arrived early on Monday morning as I headed up over Blubberhouse Moor on my way to work. Thanks to a particularly useful app on my Galaxy S, it came as no surprise. Weather warning are coming in thick and fast. The fact that one of my regular roads wasn't treated forcing me to make the choice between starting this year's snow riding with a long descent with the potential to build up alarming speeds or turn back. Time being short, I went for it, in first gear, at a jogging pace. Much later, just as the snow disappeared, the roads were treated again, which was thoughtful. It's hard work riding in snow with just about every decision carrying significantly more weight than ever before. 
It was nice to stop and get a picture on top of the moor. Unfortunately the wind was strong, I couldn't get a flashless picture. This one didn't really capture the moment I was hoping for but that's life. I'm going to have to try and learn about taking photo's in low light as every time I get out it's the break of dawn or the dark of night. 

The good news is, despite the cold, I've been able to stay comfortable. Kit is everything. Layers are also important. I've always used a lot of Army issue (now sourced from the Rufforth Autojumble) cold weather gear. In particular, I love my Norwegian shirt and the aptly named 'Socks Extreme Cold Weather.' It can all get a bit silly though and getting dressed takes a good 5 minutes of my life. Feeling the need to share this with the world, I made this video and posted it on youtube. 
Just to be clear, it isn't intended to have educational value for budding all weather bikers. In fact, making it lead me to go out and learn something new from a video that was intended to be educational. Having completed the video I naturally had a look at the ones that had been associated with it.
This one proved interesting. Never before had I thought about 'Base Layers.' I happen to own one but it goes unused because I don't really like the feel of synthetic materials and didn't see why it would be better than thermals. Everyday I put on a tshirt so that I don't have to wash the thicker thermal layers everyday. As it turns out that's not a good plan because it traps moisture (inevitable when kitting up in the living room and heaving a bike about) close to the skin. Since my little learning experience, I've been wearing the base layer (and have ordered two more) with the result that I'm noticeably better off.

Though the trousers and jacket are on the pricey side, much of my kit is just great value. If you are wondering about the boots I'm using, they are not quite your £150 all weather riding boots though I do own a cold and leaky pair of them. Nope, they are Dickies finest £25 steal toe capped, faux fur lined rigger boots. They work a treat in the cold, have plenty of room for extra socks and have kept me dry wear all others have failed. The gloves I'm finding most effective are a pair of Probiker Cool Breaker 2 thee finger gloves. They are great; warm and pretty dry. A good neck tube helps as well. I've lost one of mine this year (need to keep two as one is usually wet or hiding in a laundry basket somewhere) so I went and bought a Buff. What a waste of time and money. It's £25 of uselessness compared to the fleece neck tube I got in Boyes for less than a fiver. 

Returning to weather, it's been more than just snow this week. In fairness, the wind has been the worst of it. Every day has had amber weather warning for wind and that can be just as tricky on the bike. Actually, when you're riding a bike that struggles to cruise at 70, a 70mph head wind means you're effectively going nowhere fast in 3rd gear, engine screaming. Unfortunately, what really doesn't help is gusting side winds which attack out of nowhere and can leave you heading in unexpected directions which may or may not include oncoming traffic. 

Still, the YBR 250 seems a bit special. It's coped remarkably well with the snow and wind this week. Though light and with a fairly short wheel base, the ride is stable and response to the steering assured. You couldn't really ask for more at this time of year (or any really). 

That said, I did see the future in MCN this week where they tested the new Honda (I know) NC700x. It's everything I want. It's got half a Honda Jazz engine and, based on car technology, it's all about low engine speeds and awsome fuel economy. The design is that of a crossover, all be it with a shockingly small 14L fuel tank. The motor is something based on unheard of (in motorcycles) common sense and proven engineering. Most shocking is the fact that it's a Honda for less than £6k. I have no intention of spending money on a new bike but this will be something I'm looking for in the next year or two. This seems to me to be the bike for future travel dreams. This is the kind of thing Ang and I could go see Ireland on. 
Photo From MCN

Ah well, this is enough from me for one night. I'll just put on one more picture which I took tonight. It isn't everything I hoped for (as usual) when I stopped on my way home to try and capture the ghostly moon in a windswept sky. It was all very Alfred Noyes they way I saw the picture coming out. Unfortunately, the batteries didn't hold out for more than one shot and the wind was blowing hard. Still, I'm just glad I've taken to carrying the camera on my bike. Now, I will have to try to carry a tripod and spare batteries. Here's hoping the photo oportunites keep coming after I develop the skills to capture them. I like pictures I do. 

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