January 31, 2003

It's snow joke...

Set off this morning and all was right with the world. The sun was, er, hidden by the somewhat heavy, low clouds. The birds may well have been singing. And the morning breeze as welcoming as the heated grips could make it.

OK, OK, so it was dull, chilly and very, very windy. But it was a good trip in despite the heavy traffic. It snowed a few times during the day without settling.

And then it came time to go home.

The heavens opened and let fall snow. And lots of it. The snow started to settle on the roadside but at least the lanes themselves stayed clear.

It wasn't too bad till I went through the Blackwall Tunnel. When I came out the other side, the weather had stepped up a few gears and it was snowing in earnest. Before I left the edge of the city, traffic was pretty much down to 30mph. Now this wasn't a problem as the screen at it's highest was keeping all the snow off my visor. Not a flake got in my way. Not one.

And then I crossed the M25.

And the snow started to settle on the carriageway. And no filtering cos it was only safe to follow the tracks of the vehicles ahead. And the speed slowed to a crawl. And even in the tracks, there were lumps of snow and ice.

Unusually, there were a lot of other bikers out in the snow. Mostly, I guess they were caught at work by the weather, like I was. I saw a few "moments" but, I'm glad to say, no accidents.

I had the odd moment myself but only under acceleration. And, believe me, I was being very gentle. It's one of the few instances where all that torque counts against you. It kind of makes you wish they'd kept the TCS from the old 1100 Pan. Doesn't matter how gentle you are when the road is a sheet of snow and ice.

(Er, for those that don't know, that the Traction Control System. Sort of like ABS but for getting power to the ground rather than for braking.)

And speaking of ABS, I'm sold. 100%. If I ever look like considering a bike without ABS, someone please remind me to read about today. Please...

OK, so it won't magic grip up out of nowhere. OK, so it's not as efficient as braking manually on the edge. But when you're fighting to keep the bike upright in a snowy hell of bumper-to-bumper crawling cages with nowhere to go but straight on cos the space between lanes is three inches deep with slush and the cross wind is doing it's very best to put you across the road, it's amazing.how much you come to rely on the ABS.

At the first sign of trouble, I could just grab a nice big handful of brake and concentrate on keeping upright. And DCBS (the much maligned Dual Combined Braking System) is a real winner in the snow.

So, basically, I made it home eventually. Huzzah!!

Oh, and the heated grips are, well, very good.

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