CRM in the snow

Over the holidays there was plenty of snow here both on and before New Years Day and there were weather warnings in place in Northumberland and North Tyneside with people being advised not to travel unless essential. Obviously when invited out in the snow on the CRM on Saturday (2nd January), I therefore said yes!

The camera phone did well with the photos for a change and there are some pictures of the day on flickr.

Setting off at 7:30am the roads weren’t too good but were passable, particularly once onto major ones. I was taking the bike to a meeting place in the Tyne valley in the van and was pleased I’d loaded it the night before. I put the many layers of clothing on and then tried to get the bike going which it refused to do. I was at the top of a steep hill and it took most of the length of it to bump start it but it did fire up at the bottom, thankfully and I met up with three other riders, two of them who’d travelled from Yorkshire.

200m of road and then onto the first lane which didn’t seem too bad. You couldn’t tell what you were riding on but the bike can cope with most things so it wasn’t a problem. Suddenly crashing through ice into a rut was an interesting experience.

Short bits of tarmac and more lanes followed gradually climbing out the Tyne valley and the higher you got, the deeper the snow. It was interesting to be riding through villages where people could barely stand on the pavements/roads – some gave us rather funny looks. We made it to one of the TRF members residences and then there were five.

The tarmac roads were as interesting as some of the lanes being covered in ice and snow in varying proportions. We decided going too far wasn’t sensible so headed for Slaley forest. At some point I managed to fall off in a field but nothing serious. Coming up to the forest I managed to sink the CRM into a rather unfrozen wet soggy bog and had to pull it out with some help some of the routes were variations I’ve not used before too.

When the leader stops and invites someone else to do the next bit you know its going to be interesting. Thankfully the skilled volunteer found a safe line through a rather badly rutted section. I took the lead for a bit and found it was actually easier riding the fresh snow that following the rut left by someone else.

We had wondered about going onto the exposed moorland beyond the forest and tried to do so where we thought the turning might be but the snow was too deep for our small number to plough through and be fun. It was also near lunch time and it started snowing at this point quite heavily.

The next long climb uphill was by far my worst part of the day as the bike would not go in a straight line and required feet down, bouncing from leg to leg the whole way up, zapping my energy. The following fire road was straight and level and proved interesting as the bike would not follow the rut in the snow left by someone else but would go along it with the rear wheel if (and only if) the front was left to run over the edge of the rut by an inch or two in fresh snow on the left side. I mentioned this to others and it was dismissed as the camber of the road but more on that in another post.

By this point vision was the main problem as the visor was covered in water/ice/snow and useless after about 5 seconds of riding. I left it half raised but this meant driving snow going into my face with my eyes only protected by my glasses.

Thankfully lunch followed (gammon, egg and chips) whilst it continued to snow and the bikes had snow on them upon exiting the pub. Given the time, the weather and the distance some people had to get home it was decided that we’d had enough fun for the day and it was time to make it homeward. The backroads we used to get back were the ever changing mix of snow, ice of varying compaction but the CRM seemed to take it in its stride.

All in all, quite an enjoyable day!