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With the snow coming down in great lumps I finally gave in and fitted spikes on my main commuting bike. It was snowing so fast that by the time I finished clearing our entranceway and went inside, it was almost impossible to see where I’d started, so it seemed a good idea to be snow ready for the morning commute, especially as the cycle lanes locally aren’t cleared because “That’d mean putting salt on them and salt is bad for the environment.”

As I fully expected, within 24 hours the snow vanished and the roads were back to their normal state of being just damp enough to make everything thoroughly muddy. Since then we’ve had rain with temperatures just above freezing so the roads were wet, or subzero temperatures and dry roads.

This happens every year, without fail.

I’ve kept the snow tyres though, because with exams coming along I’m a bit short of time to change tyres again, and from experience snow clouds will sneak over the horizon and we’ll have about a week of blizzards within hours of me putting semi slicks back on the bike.

I suspect I’ll now spent most of the winter dragging myself to the tram stop and muttering about how I’m definitely going to get a new set of wheels by next winter, and then forget to do anything about it by Spring…

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Just as I got used to riding on snow with slick tires, the Xtracycle developed the same annoying habit as it usually does in winter: The cable to the rear mech froze solid after I’d been riding for five minutes leaving me riding a singlespeed in whatever ratio I happened to be using at the time. The only solution to this is pulling the cable out and spraying with WD40 or similar, and yes I should have remembered to do this earlier as in south Germany it tends to be cold this time of year (-9°c overnight, thanks for asking), and the Xtracycle freezes up like this every time.

In other news, Stuttgart has been ticked off again because the particle pollution is far and above the legal limit in the centre*, so they’re telling people to ride their bikes in and leave the car at home. Of course this would be far more effective if they actually cleared the snow off the cycle lanes, and hadn’t just taken the bicycle trolley off the only tram that carries bikes around the clock “because it is snowing and people don’t ride bikes when it snows.”

Meanwhile, the winter tires have arrived.

*Remember all those reports in the 1990’s about all the pollution in East Germany, and how the west was held as a shining example of how capitalism allowed growth with out environmental damage? Someone didn’t get that memo…

Just got back from a weekend away to find the memo about it being ‘winter’ has finally got through and the temperature dropped like the speedometer of a Porsche approaching a traffic camera. I’ve finally stopped dithering and ordered a pair of fancy-schmancy spiked tyres: these will arrive at the end of the week (which I confidently predict will usher in several weeks of warm, sunny weather) but this still leaves me riding to work on semi-slick tyres until they do turn up.

It’ll be fine. As long as there’s not too much traffic. Or wind. And I don’t try to stop suddenly.

Updates soon. If I’m spared…

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