Transition weather or transition seasons are irresistible to cyclists, including me. The snow outside has melted, or nearly so, the sun is shining and the temperature is manageable. But cycling in such settings is risky and I am going to tell you how I found that out.
On 5 January all the above conditions were met – it was about 7 C, it was nicely warm and sunny, there was no trace of snow, since we haven’t yet had a heavy snowfall. Perfect. I grabbed my bike, kissed my husband goodbye and went for a ride. I was so excited that I rode really fast down a pavement street that twists and eventually merges with the main intercity road. I took over a bus and a car, wondering why would that car drive so slowly.
And suddenly I noticed the approaching turn and how glossy it looked. It then dawned on me that this is probably thin ice, I’m moving way too fast and I cannot possibly take the turn. Alas, there was not enough time for me to hit the brakes and slow down. In a manner of seconds, I hit the ground with such force, I barely managed to pull myself together and scramble out of the way of the approaching vehicles. I hit my head, my left shoulder, elbow, ribcage, hip and leg. The left side of my body was completely numb. Somehow I managed to get back home and went straight to the ER.
Fortunately, nothing was broken and there was no internal damage, but my shoulder joint was badly injured. I couldn’t lift my left arm at all for two weeks, not to mention the protrusions, wounds and multiple hematomas. I went through two weeks of physiotherapy and kinesitherapy. Currently, I’m on the road to recovery and starting to prepare for upcoming races and cycling challenges.
In the context of that story there are two conclusions that can be drawn.
First, always be on alert when cycling during transition seasons. Dank sections of the road might be covered in ice regardless of the warm and sunny weather.
Second, good equipment saves your life. So, here are a few items I believe are essential for any cyclist.
The most important part of the equipment. No matter if you go to your local store or hit the trails you have to wear a helmet. Period. In the end of the day it will save your life or protect you from having a concussion. Don’t be frugal, buy the good quality stuff. After all you are more likely to buy a new bike before you change your helmet.
They are often neglected, but they protect your hands from branches and bushes when you get off the road. Also, if you fall, your skin wouldn’t be so hurt. As a bonus, you get better grip on the handles.
Good quality windstoppers not only provide protection against wind and cold air. When you ride during transition seasons the sun may hide behind a cloud or something and temperatures drop in a manner of seconds.
Glasses are good to have on a sunny day, but also on a dark one (checkout transparent plaque models). They protect your eyes from wind, cold, dirt and branches.
Spare inner tyre, pump and changing kit
This is kind of obvious to me, but I am often surprised to meet cyclist without a spare inner tyre. I usually meet them when they are waiting by the road or in the mountain for someone to help them out.
Buffs are great because they are light, usually have really cool designs, dry up quickly, can be used as a scarf and under your helmet, so that your head stays warm. Hats genuinely are not very comfortable for that purpose. You can check out the cool buffs on the website.
Cycling in transition weather is fun and anticipated, especially for those of us living in places with winter and heavy snow. If you hesitate trying it, don’t. Get out and do it. But be prepared.
by Sashi Mikova