Xtracycle with snow tyres.

Notice clear sky, warm sunshine, and complete absence of any snow as far as the eye can see…

The picture says it all really. Apparently the main effect of fitting snow tires on the Xtracycle is to make the weather warmer. This is no surprise as I seem to have made it rain over Christmas by cleaning the Xtracycle the week before.

However, in the brief days between fitting the tyres and the change in the weather, I found they worked pretty well. After riding on semi slicks for more years than I wish to remember they’re a bit heavy and noisy, rather like trying to run in clogs, but they work about 99% of the time so I didn’t have to approach every unknown surface wondering if I’d soon be sitting on the road, and proved very handy several times when swerving or braking to avoid cars which were approaching sideways.

The only exceptions to this were a few places where the snow had drifted, compacted, then frozen and melted so many times it had given up and turned into and evil mix of slush and ice which is unpredictably solid or slippery and has one ambition in life, namely to make cyclists fall, slide or tip off their bikes*, especially as the local farmers are enthusiastically ploughing the fields in monster sized tractors and adding great wodges of clay soil to the surface. Just the thing when riding downhill in the dark…

I’d been riding for a couple of days when someone pointed out that I’ve been Doing It Wrong. Again. The local newspaper had kindly printed “instructions for snow cycling” which helpfully suggested we “Ride slowly and carefully” and sternly warned people using snow tyres to “ride at least 50km on clear asphalt and get plenty of practice before using the tires on snow” and to make sure that we “Ride on low pressure on snow, then pump them to high pressure for asphalt”. As I ride on a mix of cleared roads and snow covered cycle lanes this would mean I’d be inflating or deflating every half a kilometre or so and would arrive at work sometime after lunch. Thank goodnes I didn’t find out until it was too late…

But of course this no longer matters because we now have warm weather for the next few weeks until I change back to slicks. You’re welcome.

I am now accepting invitations to anywhere that needs a change in the weather.

*What is the cyclist’s name for this, by the way? I’ve called it ‘Choss’ after the climbing term for dangerously loose and unpredictable rock. Any other names out there?