Riding in January - bad idea?

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rodgers73
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Riding in January - bad idea?

Postby rodgers73 » Sun Nov 25, 2012 17:25 pm

I'm planing a very long ride (c.200 miles) in January that will involve a start time of around 4am. I'll mainly be on A roads and so on and wondered how "dangerous" this plan is?

I didn't ride much last winter - how are main roads when they've been gritted? Still rideable??

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hipshot
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Re: Riding in January - bad idea?

Postby hipshot » Sun Nov 25, 2012 17:32 pm

Entirely depends on the weather that day, even gritted roads can be treacherous.

Hopefully it will be OK that morning but you should abort your ride if it's icy.

rodgers73
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Re: Riding in January - bad idea?

Postby rodgers73 » Sun Nov 25, 2012 17:43 pm

Yes, I'm conscious it will b a bit of a lottery, but wondered how gritted roads are to ride on - ie does gritting make it safe or is it best not to put too much faith in it...

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Chris Bass
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Re: Riding in January - bad idea?

Postby Chris Bass » Sun Nov 25, 2012 18:12 pm

are you not able to do it a couple of months later? why january?

having said that i cycled all through last winter, 5 or 6 days a week, and was fine, but at 4 in the morning could be a different story!
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random man
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Re: Riding in January - bad idea?

Postby random man » Sun Nov 25, 2012 19:02 pm

It seems a strange month to plan a long ride, in this country anyway. It's not just about the roads though. You could be lucky and get a mild, sunny, dry day. OTOH you could get snow or sleet, or freezing fog. If the temperature is very low, will you be able to ride for longer than 2 hours?

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Bobbinogs
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Re: Riding in January - bad idea?

Postby Bobbinogs » Sun Nov 25, 2012 19:07 pm

hipshot wrote:Entirely depends on the weather that day, even gritted roads can be treacherous.

Hopefully it will be OK that morning but you should abort your ride if it's icy.


Wot he said. I get a bit confused about which winters were which but one icy/snowy year I had to swap to the hybrid with big chunky tyres and still struggled to do the odd 10 mile ride, another year it was generally ok and I kept up some decent mileage throughout with a road bike and skinny tyres.

04:00 is an early start though, my general rule is to avoid riding if there is hard frost on car windows and at that time of year and that time of the day, there won't be too many frost free opportunities...

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Raffles
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Re: Riding in January - bad idea?

Postby Raffles » Sun Nov 25, 2012 19:09 pm

4am in january...........count me outta that one !! :shock:
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marcusjb
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Re: Riding in January - bad idea?

Postby marcusjb » Sun Nov 25, 2012 19:27 pm

320km plus totally possible in January - but whether it is safe - depends on the day. Hard frost or black ice - I'm out.

Route planning is critical to keep to the bigger roads and off the hills if possible.

Even then, might not be the most enjoyable day you've spent on the bike. I was out around 5am last weekend riding back from Wales. There was a fairly hard frost, but my choices for getting home were limited, so had to push on, it was a lovely day in fact with nice sunshine and so on. But come 4:30 and sunset, it was pretty grim again. Very hard to motivate. I was only riding 240km that day - could I have done another 80km? Probably. Would I have enjoyed another 3-4 hours in the dark? Highly unlikely!

You might get lucky and get a mild day/night - but that's the risk really.

butcher of bakersfield
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Re: Riding in January - bad idea?

Postby butcher of bakersfield » Sun Nov 25, 2012 19:28 pm

In the winter you often get a lot of ice in the gutter, which is something to be aware of, especially on fast A roads in the pitch darkness. Make sure you have a good set of lights!

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Re: Riding in January - bad idea?

Postby danowat » Sun Nov 25, 2012 19:38 pm

Could be fine, could be a nightmare, who knows, unless you've got a crystal ball.......

Lots of Audaxes take place in the winter months, I do a local 100km series which takes place in Nov, Dec & Jan, sometimes conditions are an issue, sometimes there aren't, luck of the draw

rodgers73
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Re: Riding in January - bad idea?

Postby rodgers73 » Sun Nov 25, 2012 19:49 pm

marcusjb wrote:320km plus totally possible in January - but whether it is safe - depends on the day. Hard frost or black ice - I'm out.

Route planning is critical to keep to the bigger roads and off the hills if possible.

Even then, might not be the most enjoyable day you've spent on the bike. I was out around 5am last weekend riding back from Wales. There was a fairly hard frost, but my choices for getting home were limited, so had to push on, it was a lovely day in fact with nice sunshine and so on. But come 4:30 and sunset, it was pretty grim again. Very hard to motivate. I was only riding 240km that day - could I have done another 80km? Probably. Would I have enjoyed another 3-4 hours in the dark? Highly unlikely!

You might get lucky and get a mild day/night - but that's the risk really.



The plan is to do a real sufferfest in the cold so I'm investing in some solid winter gear to keep me from freezing. The route will be Doncaster to Kings Cross Station (sleep over at Travelodge nearby and train home next day). So, I should avoid any nasty hills (or at least any extensive hilly country) and will spend a fair bit of time in the city near the end where temps should be higher and speed should be lower (both of which will be welcome!).

Conditions which would be an obvious bale out include -

1. Snowfall or recent snow still on ground (!)
2. Temps lower than zero for the whole day
3. High windchill factor

I'd risk a few miles on icy back roads while I got onto the main roads but would leave it if it was going to be risky even on the A roads.

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marcusjb
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Re: Riding in January - bad idea?

Postby marcusjb » Sun Nov 25, 2012 20:03 pm

Totally understand.

I know of people who wait until the worst night possible and go and ride. Theory being you've conditioned your mind and body to the worst deprivation possible and anything else will seem a walk in the park!

Good luck.

I will stick to 200ish!

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Bobbinogs
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Re: Riding in January - bad idea?

Postby Bobbinogs » Sun Nov 25, 2012 20:15 pm

Just try not to be foolhardy though, I remember last year when I was gaging for a ride after missing a couple of months with a broken collarbone. The forecast was a crisp clear and sunny 2-3 degrees so off I went...felt the back wheel slip a few times and when I eventually stopped I could hardly stand up. A runner coming the other way was doing a comedy turn with legs and arms going in all directions. I couldn't really see the ice but it was there for sure and even standing in MTB shoes was difficult. I took it real easy and made it home but it was the scariest ride I have ever done and I bitterly regretted the whole thing. I could feel my recently patched up collarbone throbbing the whole way home to remind me what a fall could do, even at low speed.

rodgers73
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Re: Riding in January - bad idea?

Postby rodgers73 » Sun Nov 25, 2012 20:47 pm

Yes, I'm no stuntman/maniac. I just fancy a long cold day on the bike. I'm aware that 15-20 hours of riding at lower than, say, 4 degrees is going to be borderline impossible for me as even some good gear isnt going to stop me getting TOO cold, so I'll have to keep an eye on the weather and hope for a mild-ish day

nferrar
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Re: Riding in January - bad idea?

Postby nferrar » Mon Nov 26, 2012 10:41 am

4am start, A roads, likely cold, maybe icy - sounds more like torture than a bike ride :p

Bordersroadie
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Re: Riding in January - bad idea?

Postby Bordersroadie » Mon Nov 26, 2012 12:41 pm

The thread title is an understatement of the reality!

Kudos to you for planning it in the first place. As has been said, though, it depends entirely on the weather on the day. I ride all year round (on ice tyres below zero) but would not contemplate that long a ride unless it was in a rare mild (10C+) January period.

The idea of having to do it all on A-roads would make it a non-starter for me.

Your comment that makes me worry is "I'd risk a few miles on icy back roads while I got onto the main roads but would leave it if it was going to be risky even on the A roads."

Sorry to be blunt but riding on icy roads without studded tyres is just stupidity. At 4am in January the chance of icy back roads is high.

If you manage to do it I'd be the first to congratulate you. My main question would be "how do I keep my feet warm?".

All the best.

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southdownswolf
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Re: Riding in January - bad idea?

Postby southdownswolf » Mon Nov 26, 2012 12:47 pm

If there is a high probability of ice on the road, I would rather leave the road bike at home and go out for a few hours on the mtb. At least on the mtb I can go off-road and am less likely to injure myself when crashing :D
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Reane_Machine
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Re: Riding in January - bad idea?

Postby Reane_Machine » Mon Nov 26, 2012 20:25 pm

Sounds brave, if you pull it off i'll bet it will be worth it!

My main worry is the risk factor and the changeability of the weather.

What if it's mild and sunny for the morning but then mid-afternoon it takes a turn? Perhaps more snow falls or there's rain which freezes quick on the way down?

What's your mentality in terms of aborting if you get halfway through?

You're guaranteed a cold long day on the bike though, which is what you're hoping for so at least you can take that to the bank!
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Frank the tank
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Re: Riding in January - bad idea?

Postby Frank the tank » Mon Nov 26, 2012 21:16 pm

Best of luck to ya fella.

Personally I think it's foolhardy and putting yourself at unneccessary risk, A roads in the dark, possibly freezing conditions. I wish you well but it's beyond my ken why anyone should want to do such a thing.
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cougie
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Re: Riding in January - bad idea?

Postby cougie » Mon Nov 26, 2012 21:57 pm

You might be fine or it might be icy and dangerous. Impossible to tell. There are nicer places to ride to than London though. Will the travel lodge let you bring in a filthy bike ? If they don't - what will you do ?

Are you used to the distance ? It's a lot more tiring riding in the dark I find - good lights are a must with multiple batteries/backups and a head torch in case of mechanicals.


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