The UK tour… and the weather…

Posted: January 15, 2013 by Ben Weber in Cycling, English, Training
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
Nat in one of our -40C sleeping bags - comfy!  Shouldn't get quite so cold, but once we are on the poles, this will be nice to have!

Nat in one of our -40C sleeping bags – comfy! Shouldn’t get quite so cold, but once we are on the poles, this will be nice to have!

So with this trip to the UK… hopefully the weather will let up: it was simply awful in the UK prior to Christmas with flooding in so many places and lots of damage done everywhere which is always terrible to see. It seemed  to have calmed down a bit, but now it looks like there is going to be some cold weather which will make our journey harder.

The main things that worries me are wind and then ice. The wind is more of a worry because you can pretty much depend on it to be windy in Britain during winter; when you are by the coast exposed to the Atlantic Ocean down in the south; then as you get further north into Scotland; when you are close to the sea in general… or if you are on higher land… so this just about covers 80% of the time we will be there! If we are fortunate, and the wind is behind us, then it will be a great help… if indeed we are fortunate. If not, and it is in our faces, then we will need to spend much more energy riding over the long distances – and so much more grateful to get to our daily destinations!

Weather UKIce is an increasing worry, and may soon take the place of wind, as the temperatures look to be plummeting. As the country is so windy and wet, it doesn’t normally get too icy, though the road gritters normally do a decent job in keeping the roads ice-free. But you can’t discount that possibility that the roads will be icy – especially on the eastern side of the side of the country and again, the further north you get such as in the Lake District and then the Scottish Highlands. The weather forecast for the next few days shows that the Highlands may get down to -7C… which will be tough to go through, as going fast through that kind of cold would be biting (the balaclavas will be essential!) and if grit hasn’t covered all parts of the road, or has been washed away in a previous thaw, then it will be icy. Icy roads are treacherous – on a bike you will easily lose grip and go flying if you try braking or turning, or anything really! A massive amount of care is needed to keep your eyes open for any black ice which can be lethal. Then of course you have to account for the cars passing who would have to face the same conditions themselves…

After that comes the rain with the general cold. This is something less worrying, as we think that we are pretty well equipped with the various layers, and water/wind-proof gear we have. Cold and wet conditions can be really demoralizing if you are not well prepared, and especially over long periods when you want to be in dry clothes, and even more especially together with the wind.

No matter how it does turn out, cold, windy or wet, it will be beautiful and it will be dramatic, and it will be hard. So here’s to hoping that we have done enough planning; and here’s to hoping that if things are colder than we expect, we will find good bike shops which will have extra equipment, and learn for the future!

It will be beautiful, but very tricky and hazardous

It will be beautiful, but very tricky and hazardous

  1. toddlerontour says:

    I can vouch for the cold weather here in Manchester! Last week it was sunny and I managed a long ride with my son Theo (4) including a picnic. This week winter finally arrived though and it is freezing! -3c for my ride this morning. Haven’t travelled too far, but I can see the surrounding hills are white.

    Fog could be an issue for you guys near the coast, but whilst there is a lot of ice around if you stick to the main roads they’re generally quite clear. The gritters have been out in force this year. As for the wind, I haven’t noticed any up North. It has been very calm 🙂

    I cycled a route like in your picture once. I was so stupid, it always looked better ahead so I kept struggling on, then I ended up right in the middle of the route and was faced with the dilemma of carrying on or turning around. Well, I ended up walking my bike further on for 3 miles then had to be rescued from the nearest town as I’d never have made it before dark and I was exhausted! Note to self: Avoid routes passing through the highest village in Wales via open moor land in the middle of Winter!

    In a way I hope it stays cold for you, ideal training conditions 🙂
    I’ll have the heating on ready for when you arrive though, plus a ton of food!

    Matt, Becki, & Theo

  2. Ben Weber says:

    Hi there Matt, Becki & Theo!!
    Sounds like you have had some pretty great adventures on the bike. Yeah, can imagine that passing through high roads in winter might get a bit tricky – especially with the snow coming down like it is at the moment over there!!! But yes, as you say, the cold conditions should hopefully give us good training for the challenges ahead!
    Really looking forward to meeting you soon and sharing stories, and the thought of the food is lovely!!!

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