Just like in the summer – when I don’t consider it a nice day unless there’s a blue sky all day long and not a cloud to be seen – I have similarly strict guidelines before I will recognise the fact that it’s winter. Until these criteria are met then I’ll just consider it autumn. I don’t care if the car gets frosty in the morning or the temperature drops below freezing at night. No, that won’t do at all. It has to snow and the snow has to lie during the day before I’ll consider it winter. It can be sunny from then on but until it snows it’s just not cricket.
So last night a friend and I were out night mountain biking on Barden Moor (for those of you who’ve not been there, it’s a moor north of Skipton and consists of a slog of a climb followed by several miles of entertaining descents). Actually, while I’m on the subject of night biking, remember to charge your super-bright lights fully. If you don’t you will find that half way around the route when you’re furthest from the car, your lights will fail and you’ll discover just how dark it is out there. You will either have a long and difficult hike back to the car (did I mention that you didn’t bring a spare light?) or have to stay within the light cast by your companion’s floodlights (which is tough when he’s a downhilling lunatic on a full suspension bike and you’re not). Still, lesson learned.
Anyway, it was a beautiful evening – albeit a chilly zero degrees celcius – but with the right clothes that’s not a problem. As we got to the high moor it gradually began to snow, which was pleasant. Then it gradually began to snow harder. Which was still nice – blasting down a rocky descent having to contend with patches of ice as well as large snowflakes falling all around made for a very memorable experience, and that’s without mentioning that it was the dead of night. Then it began to snow even harder still. Which was slightly less pleasant as the wind that came out of nowhere was directing the snow into my right ear. I have no objection to having my ear blown in by attractive women, but the cold breath of icy snow is not quite the same. Eventually we got back to the road following some quality and sustained descending (taking in a fork in the path I’d never noticed before which caused a bit of confusion). Then it really started to snow and as we pedalled straight into the wind for the last couple of miles to the car I could barely keep my eyes open thanks to the stinging snowflakes. Which was not pleasant.
It was only a dusting of snow really but still, we were probably the first people in Yorkshire to see and feel the first snow fall while most were watching Eastenders or huddling in front of the fire. Life, it’s grrrrrrreat! Oh, and if it snows enough I’ll take some pictures, there just isn’t enough for a decent picture yet unless I can be bothered hiking up the hills…
Update: I forgot to mention that while we were blasting down one of the descents a Red Grouse (noisy, below-average intelligence bird) decided to burst into flight while making a hell of a lot of noise just as we were passing. It flew a matter if inches above my friend’s head (he never even saw it) and by the time I got to it a second later it was perhaps a few feet above my head. I could see my lights reflecting off the daft bird’s eyes! It’s difficult to describe the shock of something like that jumping out at you in the dark making so much noise and almost taking you out. Had it stayed put we’d never have known it was there – so much for natural selection.