Tuesday, February 3, 2004

A cold day in Cambridge

Right, the snow. It began Tuesday night, big fluffy, surprisingly un-wet flakes.

Cycling back from the theatre, it completely filled the "windward" side air vents of my helmet (see below).

It was quite amazing – snowfalls over two nights, and a third day before everything thawed. (Some fairly nasty wind during the period as well.)

The first morning was the most eye-popping. I was late to class because I just kept stopping to take photos. “Hello snowman with carrot nose!”

“Hello Parker’s Piece covered in snow!”

That sort of thing. I quickly learned that cycling worked best on snow that was still powdery and soft – anything already compacted by passing vehicles had the traction of wet glass. That said, the gritting of the main roads was pretty effective – I could still cycle most places, it just took longer.

Traffic, however, at peak hour ground to a total halt, the only way to get anywhere was on a bike. I would have tried out my new leather-soled shoes for the Burn’s night formal dinner – but it seemed rather too slippery in the un-gritted cobbled lanes around college. (One guy who usually wears leather soles slipped over seven times, until he swapped to his football boots and trod everywhere on studs.)

The worst day was the second – all compacted snow and thawed water re-frozen into treacherous black ice. I still managed three days of cycling most places without any accidents – sticking to the gritted roads helped, but some of the cobbled paths and ungritted bridges were a bit scary.

Still, number of us crazy foreigners kept cycling. As a German friend said: "Oh yes, I cycled - no, let me say - I glided home." No sudden breaking and it's all fine.

Have some more photos up over here, under "Winter".

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