Saturday, 18 December 2010

Winter's here...

Last weekend we had a big thaw, and we took the opportunity to go and collect a Christmas tree from one of the local growers. I rode the Xtracycle again, as it's good for moving long things.

On the way back we saw the amusing sight of a car driver trying to use a bus road but coming up against an obstacle which has featured before on this blog. You can see in these photos why the driver changed her mind and turned around:

After the mild weekend, the cold weather returned, and there was snow and ice for the rest of the week. My children cycled to school on Wednesday morning, just like every other morning. It was -2 C, and there was snow on the ground but there was no suggestion of travelling any other way:

Orders have continued to come in to the Dutch Bike Bits shop and as ever the customers parcels have made their way to the post office by bike.

In this case I had seven parcels in all, for customers in Australia, Canada, Denmark, England, the USA and one staying within the Netherlands. Four of the customers had ordered Schwalbe Marathon Winter studded tyres in the 20" size (which we have in stock now), and those are the parcels stacked on the back of my bike.

It was very pleasant riding to the post office in the freshly fallen snow, but on the way back it turned into a blizzard, and I saw these two people and one umbrella on a bike going in the opposite direction to a snow-plow on the same cycle path. I guess they sorted it out before they collided:

I also did a day's work in Groningen yesterday, setting off at 7 in the morning when it was -5 C (23 F) and returning at about about -2 C. As ever, the 60 km round trip went without any drama, I went a little slower than usual and took care on the corners so it took an hour and ten minutes in each direction. Though fresh ice had fallen/formed on some of them afterwards, the cycle paths had all been swept except for the same five metre long portion in the middle which was missed last year (the centre photo here):

It's -7 C this morning. My eldest daughter is travelling today to see grandparents in the UK before Christmas. Some of the Dutch trains are working on half hour services instead of quarter hour services at the moment, and there might be some delays, but it seems they're all running. I don't think they'll have any problem with getting to the ferry terminal, not on the ferry, but I'm a bit concerned about the trains in Britain. As ever there are reports of "Travel Chaos" despite weather which other countries seem to be able to cope with, and indeed which Britain also used to be able to cope with:

However, some problems have been caused here too, as you can see from this news report from here in Assen:

The other major thing this week was the meeting about the Netherlands Cycling Embassy, which was the subject of another blog post.


Peter said...

i checked out that bus/bike path on google maps, and i was happy to be able to find it!

i wanted to see if i could spot a bus, and which direction it was going, etc. it looks like the 14 and 18 buses have stops near either end of that route, but i can't tell which bus actually uses the new route.

it's funny b/c it looks like the google street view car had to turn around at that impedance device thing/area.

here is the path headed west (out of town):

here is the bus path route from one side of that path to the other:

so, it looks like google transit hasn't been updated yet to use that new route (at least, i'm guessing that's why the route shown in the link above avoids it).

i'd been to Amsterdam twice, and once to Haarlem (Cup soccer tourney when i was a teen), and these days, at least, the Netherlands always seems empty when i look at it in Google Maps. is it just me, or...??

it's also damn beautiful. damn.

and google maps street view doesn't blur the faces of dogs.

and the design of that town/neighborhood is totally cool/freaky/unique -- at least, it seems that way to me. looks like someone started building a crop circle and then was forced to make it into a useful neighborhood/town design instead:

seems like that town really is brand new/planned.

Micheal Blue said...

Dave, thanks for the post. It's nice to read and see how daily lives go in some faraway place (that is friendly to bikes). So do your kids also use Marathon Plus tires on their bikes? This is my first winter commuting. I found out that when there is no packed snow or ice underneath a fresh snowfall, the traction is very good (I also have Marathon Plus tires). However, on snow that's been walked on for some time, the traction is non-existent. The bike trail I take to work is the main bike east-west corridor along the lake shore. A good part of it is ploughed and salted, but in some areas they don't touch it (I'm really looking forward to the studded tires). How was balancing the big bike with the Xmas tree? Another question - if your classic Dutch bikes are steel, how do they handle the salting?

Taliesin said...

I would be interested to know to what extent studded tyres are used in NL during the winter. My experience is that ice is very unforgiving for those on 2 wheels.

Kevin Steinhardt said...

Those car traps look pretty violent. The ones on the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway look a lot more ... pitty.

David Hembrow said...

Peter: Yes, that's the spot.

There's more coming up about kloosterveen in a future blog post. It's really quite a nice development.

NL often looks "empty". It's the result of what has been achieved. There are fewer cars around and cars take up a lot more space than bikes do. The country is also quite quiet for the same reason.

Michael Blue: Yes, we all ride on Marathon Plus tyres. The main reason is that I have no desire at all to fix punctures in cold weather.

Here the cycle paths have all been swept and salted, but (as you can see in a video from today) they've not done as good a job as last year.

The Xtracycle handles quite well with an off centre load. I don't have to buy two trees, and hardly notice all the weights on one side as I ride along.

And finally, good quality steel bikes survive because they're well made. They use good steel and very good paint. This is often overlooked, especially by manufacturers who are price-led. However, good quality paint makes a bike last much longer. I've a video showing paint finishes under test.

Taliesin: Not many people use studded tyres. However, "not many" in a Dutch context is still quite a lot. Our Marathon Winter studded tyres have been selling very quickly.

Kevin: You can't argue with success. I've yet to see anyone try to drive a car over it !

Theo Z said...

"Kevin: You can't argue with success. I've yet to see anyone try to drive a car over it !"

Ah, when I have my Citroën CX back, I'll drive over them. No problem! Just increase the (hydrolic) suspension.

What? What am I telling here about cars?

Koos said...

Wonderful piece of film from 1963 there. It is interesting to see how we take a lot more disruption for granted. On the other hand, our demand for (speedy) transportation has also increased many times.
To (ab)use a later remark: Back in 1963, British Rail could deal with any kind of snow!

wee folding bike said...

I cheat on ice and use a Longstaff TWD trike. The recent national emergency in Scotland didn't stop it but the stationary traffic did slow me down a bit.

I'm thinking about fitting Marathon Winters. It has 15 yr old Conti TopTouring tyres with a central band on the tread. Trikes don't lean (unless you screw up) so the chunks on the tread never do anything. The front wheel does all the braking and steering but sometimes there is some drift at either end.

Restlesstablet123 said...

If only our Decembers were that mild. -25 is a normal low, especially at night, and -40 isn't unprecedented. Still, at least some people could with the right cycle paths, 30 km/h streets, cycle lanes and junction designs, and shortcuts, could incite people to brave what weather they can with some snow clearing. I don't think salt water would work at that temperatures but higher temps like -10 is also common enough that ice shouldn't be too big of a problem, especially if combined with studded tires. And with enclosed things like brakes, gears and chain. Darkness is a major factor, so lighting is a big concern. It's October and the question is still will it snow for Halloween? That happens quite a bit, but with clearing, it shouldn't be too big of a problem. Winter cycling will probably not reach the Dutch average, but we can come within reasonably close standard, maybe 15%? With better public transport, I think people would use that more during winter, which is still better than cars, especially if you have electric buses combined with clean power generation (hydro electric, solar, geothermal, wind, etc).