Contender two for the banner. Which do you prefer?

Sunset on the way home. A cropped version of this may become the 'Winter Banner'

I had an appointment with a client about three kilometres away by cycle ways in the next village. My record so far for this run is eight minutes and you could never drive  to the same place that quickly, because cars have to drive further and through  four sets of traffic lights. The weather report said it would be dry and cloudy, so naturally it snowed all morning. I allowed a lot of extra time, thinking I’d have to walk through deep snow a lot of the way, and set off for the Scary Hill of Doom.

Lines in the snow

Lines in the snow

The Scary Hill Of Doom (SHoD) will one day get a blog entry of its own. There are valleys on three sides of the village, and the main road has is an 11% gradient for a bit less than a kilometre long. I’m not going to say how fast I went. At the bottom of the hill, where the road winds up the other side, I took the Feldweg along the valley. This is the way to a set of riding stables, so I knew the steady procession of SUV’s would clear the snow off the road, and so it was: as long as I kept in the tyre lanes I was snow free. The valley was monochrome: black tyre tracks and trees, white snow, and the loudest noise was the river running alongside, swollen from the thaw that morning. Anyone driving between the villages would right now be going stop-start through a jumble of shops, industrial buildings, and fitness centres, but I had a whole valley to myself.

Cleared cycle path

In the next village a shared use cycle path had been ploughed and gritted. In Ostfildern. I followed it feeling rather guilty for my earlier mutterings on this blog. Let the record show: a cycle path in Ostfildern that has been cleared of snow.

My client lives on the other side of the village, on top of the valley. Of course. I needed all my concentration to get back up the hill so there are no pictures of that. I finished the appointment a bit early, which I thought was a bonus as it meant I could get back sooner, but then I got sandbagged by the sheer beauty of it all and kept stopping to take more pictures.

Xtra and snow. One contender for the winter banner image

Xtra and snow. Another possible banner image

Having climbed out of the valley once I don’t really like doing it again, so I avoid the SHoD by riding back along a slightly longer but less strenuous route. The first part of the journey is through a planned town, and lo and behold, the cycleways were cleared again, (and, like Assen, clearing cycleways was given priority over side roads) I could have raced through with very little trouble, but the sun came out and it was just too beautiful to race through, so more photos.

Leaving town. Xtra seems happy on the snow

Leaving town. Xtra seems happy on the snow

Back on the Feldwege, and onto packed snow. I thought this would be a get-off-and-push moment, but the Xtra just dug in and kept going. Except that the views kept seducing me. More pictures. By now the sun had come out, and this being Germany I was sharing the road with half of the population of Ostfildern, a lot of dogs and small children with sledges. I barely had a place to stop for a pee before a nordic walker came around the corner.

The Xtra seems to like packed snow when loaded: I thought it’d be a bit skittery with the weeks bread supply in the back, but it just powered on along the ridge road home. By now I was severely late, but if I’d rushed home then I’d have missed the suset at the top of this post, which added an extra layer to an already beautiful view of the village.

Come to think of it, I’d have missed that in a car as well…

[Thanks to David Hembrow for the title idea…]