black ice

Commuting, Day rides, Audax, Incidents, etc.
hercule
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Joined: 5 Feb 2011, 5:18pm

Re: black ice

Postby hercule » 29 Jan 2019, 9:27pm

Although a lot of my riding is recumbent on three wheels, I'm very wary of riding if there's ice about. Partly because there will soon be salt and grit wrecking my trike, but also because of the thought of tons of steel whizzing around without any regard for the conditions.

As an aside I was in Glasgow at this time of year a few years ago and took a run along the north side of the river on a combined footpath/cycle path. It had rained overnight and the rain had frozen into a skating rink. I had to hang on to a neighbouring chainlink fence just to stay upright. I was amazed at the number of cyclists who passed somehow staying upright and making forward progress.

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andrew_s
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Joined: 7 Jan 2007, 9:29pm
Location: Gloucestershire

Re: black ice

Postby andrew_s » 8 Feb 2019, 11:15pm

hercule wrote:I was amazed at the number of cyclists who passed somehow staying upright and making forward progress.

If you've never tried, it's surprising how icy it can be, and still be able to ride, even on ordinary tyres (gatorskins in my case).

Back when I used to do regular evening club rides, we'd keep going all winter. We'd stop for everywhere ice, but not for the likelihood of icy patches, and would, on such occasions, quite regularly ride over bits of road you'd have trouble walking over. Yes, you would fall off occasionally, but it wasn't frequent - maybe 5 times over 10 - 12 years for me.

Pay attention to what you can see, and to tyre noise, and if you think you may be on ice, ride as smoothly as possible, in as near a straight line as possible, with as little braking as you can get away with, and without doing anything that may upset your balance, such as looking behind.
You can also often find extra grip, on country lanes at least, on the gravelly bits at the edge or centre of the road.

Of course, now that proper winter tyres are easily available (which they weren't, then), you'd be silly not to use them.

Anecdotes:
a) We got stopped one evening by a policeman, who warned us about the road ahead being blocked by an upside down car that an incompetent driver had lost control of on ice . We said thank you, carried on, stopped in full control, and then found it pretty difficult to dismount, walk round the car, and remount on the other side. Apparently it was a secretary at the workplace of one of the other riders - "I don't understand what happened - I was driving just the same as I always do". :roll:
b) 25 riders out one evening, split over 3 rides. All 3 rides approached the pub on the same road, and me and the lad behind were they only ones who didn't come off. "Don't stop" he said, as we heard the clattering behind. I did, but took about 200 m to do so.

hercule
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Re: black ice

Postby hercule » 9 Feb 2019, 1:36pm

I’ve ridden over stretches of black ice for a few metres withuot mishap: neither changing direction or speed. What amazed me in my example above was that the ice extended for several hundred metres with a few bends along the way.

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andrew_s
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Location: Gloucestershire

Re: black ice

Postby andrew_s » 10 Feb 2019, 7:52pm

The worst I remember for ice was one was when I was a student in Manchester, in the winter of 78/79.
I was in digs in West Didsbury, and was in the habit of walking into uni (6.2 km, according to cycle.travel), which normally took about 50-55 minutes, and I amused myself during the walk by keeping track of whether I was gaining or losing against the buses.
One night, there was freezing rain. The whole of the road and pavement was coated in about 2 mm of clear ice, and enough accumulated on trees that some of the weaker branches broke off under the weight.
The walk time doubled, I overtook about 25 buses, saw the results of 4 minor accidents, one of which I watched happen (the lights changed, and the driver tried to brake, ending up doing a pirouette across the junction before meeting the stationary queue at the other side sideways on.
I didn't see any bikes.

Vorpal
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Re: black ice

Postby Vorpal » 10 Feb 2019, 10:20pm

I once went out with the kids in the trailer behind me. I was headed for a cafe that I liked, but the normal bridge was undergoing repairs and replaced by a pedestrian bridge. As the road was closed to motor traffic, I thought they wouldn't have gritted and I should get off and walk. As soon as I squeezed the brakes, I realised it was too late and over I went. The kids thought it was quite funny. Luckily, the worst that happened is I put a hole in my tights. A resident who was out gritting his drive asked if I was okay and I said that I was, then carried on. That was the only bad patch, and we enjoyed our cafe lunch :)
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― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

jaydm
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Joined: 5 Feb 2019, 5:19pm

Re: black ice

Postby jaydm » 11 Feb 2019, 6:44am

Unfortunately I came off last week, though no serious damage done. The feeling of the front wheel going while gravity instantly makes your acquaintance is terrifying. It has unnerved me a little. I was amazed when a teenager nonchalantly cycled past me no handed while I was sorting myself out.

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foxyrider
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Location: Sheffield, South Yorkshire

Re: black ice

Postby foxyrider » 11 Feb 2019, 8:49am

Long before social meja and mobile phones we had an extended winter hereabouts. Early one Sunday people assembled for the Sunday run, riding over frosted roads to the meet. As we waited for latecomers we watched as about half a dozen motorbikes and several cars came to grief at the TL's, on blaxk ice.

We set off, some twenty or so of us and had to ride over a long stretch of black ice. We almost made it over but someone at the front panicked resulting in several falls and lots of cursing as you couldn't stand on it!

There were other patches during the ride but we all remained upright.

On a later occasion we left the cafe and retraced our outward route. We discovered too late that the wet around one bend had turned to black ice, we all went down like domino's. I picked myself up, my bike had come to rest on saddle and bars on the parapet of the bridge! No serious injuries, I burst my elbow which needed a couple of stitches but that was the worst.

Since then gritting has become more widespread so keeping off the lanes is generally fairly safe! My December off was on a lane.
Convention? what's that then?
Airnimal Chameleon touring, Orbit Pro hack, Orbit Photon audax, Focus Mares AX tour, Peugeot Carbon sportive, Owen Blower vintage race - all running Tulio's finest!

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Sweep
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Re: black ice

Postby Sweep » 11 Feb 2019, 10:10am

In that first instance foxy I really wouldn't have set off.

Yes folks can be a tad over careful these days but that sounds like folly. And setting a bad example to newcomers.

I still remember coming off on black ice with another person on a ride lead by a very experienced leader who should have known better, timing the ride so that we were still out as temperatures were forecast to plummet on a damp day.

As soon as the two of us stood up after the off we instantly fell over again.

It was on a busy dark road. We were lucky no one was killed.

Ice has to be respected. The best clothing in the world won't protect you from it.
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