What is it about this winter?

I have read a million and one theories about why there are more crashes this winter... here is my summary.

by jimmythecuckoo   January 5, 2014  

Morborne UL.jpg

Its been an odd winter. Take aside changing clubs and becoming a Father again, but my training never really got started. 

My bad crash in the summer had been playing on my mind for sure. No-one likes waking up on a road surrounded by paramedics before numerous brain scans and x-rays. 

To be honest, my confidence never truly came back from being knocked out for ten minutes and carted off in an ambulance with a bruised pelvis, hip & collarbone. I did ok in my racing but always felt a little tentative on wet surfaces. 


When I hit a patch of oil in early December going just 6mph I knew my summer avertion to broken bones wouldn't be replicated. I cracked a bone in my elbow. 

To be fair if there is ever a good time to fracture your wrist this was it. My wife was 8 months pregnant so I had to stick rigidly to the exercise programme for the joint however painful and swollen it was. The bone not being set in the end was a Godsend as I was up and running in no time. 

The day I fell was both warm & sunny and yet the road surface was like glass. On that same day two other local club runs to me saw accidents and a friend of a friend also went down, onto his head. 

Concussion had been in the news around that time after Spurs let their goalkeeper, Hugo Lloris, play on at Everton with concussion. He must be twice the man than I. It was a horrible feeling in the summer despite wearing a helmet. This fall, thankfully avoided my skull.


The weeks of rehabilitation went by and still reports of crashes came in. Regularly and plentiful. No mention of angry motorists, these were pure accidents where wheels had stepped out and left a rider on the deck. 


Plenty of theories abound. Some of them have been shared on forums and social media, including this site. 


Here are a list of them... please feel free to add your own and mock mine. Stay safe people. 


  • The lengthy cold snap last Springtime has meant the roads havent had time to recover from last winter.
  • The warm Summer has left the roads covered in oil and debris as we usually have lots of rain washing it off.
  • The mild Autumn has left the roads covered in oil and debris as we usually have lots of rain washing it off.
  • The mild Winter... oh you get the picture. 
  • The grit councils have put down on the few real sharp frosts we have is cheaper and therefore less effective and grippy. 

14 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

I fear it will only get worse as the early part of 2014 progresses and it gets colder.
I went out on my road bike for the first time in weeks and within a mile I bumped into the flashing blue lights of the police warning drivers of sheet ice on the roundabout (thank goodness they were there, it was like an ice rink).
A couple of miles on my back wheel twitched out and that was it, homeward bound for me as aside from the danger, it was not enjoyable.
Given the spills you have had, I applaud your courage, especially with the roads as they are.
Here's to a safe 2014.

posted by arfa [577 posts]
5th January 2014 - 21:53


I am sitting here writing this recovering from a broken hip sustained last Sunday due to a fall on black ice. I am off work for at least six weeks. In part it was my fault, but I was being careful, but also down to the fact that I went out as the weather had been horrid the week before and was to be horrid the week after! I am hoping that when I can get back on my bike I won't be too mentally affected by what has happened.

So my theory is people riding when they perhaps shouldn't to make the most of the good weather

posted by surfingjoyner [23 posts]
6th January 2014 - 15:23



You're all doing it wrong, clench your arse and land on it!

posted by kie7077 [602 posts]
6th January 2014 - 17:42


I wish I had that amount of awareness to do that Smile

jimmythecuckoo's picture

posted by jimmythecuckoo [1315 posts]
7th January 2014 - 14:59


Maybe there is a lot of rider error, sorry. But you know the roads are like this, would it be acceptable to keep crashing your car and saying the road was oily, the wind was blowing the rain was heavier than yesterday. The answer would be no. I think a lack of care and attention could be attributed to a lot of the spills, not all, but a lot.
Also if you have had a bad spill then I have found through friends that it then becomes a self- fulfilling prophecy, as people ride a lot more stiffly, are over cautious, which cause them to fall again...look at wiggins in the Giro!

Yes I have had some heavy serious spills and can say they were all my fault, as I have over confidence in my limited abilities, however i don't suffer with the post fall blues. I just get back on when fixed and then ride with a lesson learned.

“Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.”

― George Carlin

“Talk sense to a fool and he calls you foolish.”

― Euripides, Bacchae

Cyclist's picture

posted by Cyclist [286 posts]
7th January 2014 - 19:50


Of course an element is rider error. I can't speak about my first crash but the second was a case of losing confidence and and over compensation.

jimmythecuckoo's picture

posted by jimmythecuckoo [1315 posts]
7th January 2014 - 20:10


@Jimmy ... nice piccie .. Titanio ??

+1 the over-compensating ... did just that after a tumble on
the frosty/black ice a couple of weekends ago now can't
ride in the wet for toffee Sad

still on the 3rd switch-back of Bwlch !

posted by therevokid [834 posts]
9th January 2014 - 11:22


I agree with the comments about rider error. Yes the roads are terrible, pot holes, grease, oil, standing water and in some cases black ice, however I think the biggest difference is probably our not adjusting to the conditions, and indeed over cautiousness.

The autumn weather was ace, and I think the transition from pleasant cycling conditions, to acceptable conditions with rider adjustments has been really quick, quicker than normal and people are still riding like its summer.

From personal experience, I've never known a winter where I've worn the thermal socks and overshoes so little and I'm struggling to believe we are now well into January

posted by Jimmy Ray Will [429 posts]
13th January 2014 - 17:34


I'm not complaining about my nads not being frozen this winter!

This AM I took a corner wrong and it was pavement or fall off, I chose pavement, the tyres refused to grip round the bend.

Video: http://youtu.be/T9NAF94kHzQ rather boring really!

Last winter, the Ice got me: http://youtu.be/uu21XT4p7O0 - The whole bridge was ice, it didn't get me until I tried to turn.

Winter before that: Guy in front not so lucky, I nearly ran him over because I couldn't brake on the ice: http://youtu.be/o3ID33xKCsc

posted by kie7077 [602 posts]
13th January 2014 - 20:48


Tyre pressure keeps getting mention in my group of friends at the moment.

As there has been little frost, are we leaving too many psi in ? Thinking

jimmythecuckoo's picture

posted by jimmythecuckoo [1315 posts]
14th January 2014 - 15:47


If there's a chance of ice I go to work on the main road through town (and walk in our estate where it's not treated), I have no desire to spend a few weeks in plaster (or worse).

The club group ride last Sunday was OK while on treated roads. They turned off onto a quieter road to come across proper icy patches. That's not fun, I'd have turned back.

jimmythecuckoo wrote:
Tyre pressure keeps getting mention in my group of friends at the moment.

As there has been little frost, are we leaving too many psi in ? Thinking

Dropping the tyre pressure may help a little in the wet but nothing grips on ice without studs. IMVHO you should be running fat tyres and lower pressures at this time of year anyway.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2148 posts]
16th January 2014 - 12:02


I'm like Simon E, just plain avoid cycling if there's ice. I don't have studded tyres and don't have a bike with enough clearance for them so it'd be too much of an expense for the few weeks of the year that it's required.

There'll be plenty of time to cycle in the summer! On icy days I spend a bit more time with my kids or doing something I don't often do like running, or going on the turbo rather than going out and constantly worrying if I'm going to be coming home with broken bones. Broke my thumb last year, it took ages to heal and it's still not right!

Twitter: @velosam

SamShaw's picture

posted by SamShaw [293 posts]
16th January 2014 - 13:01


No3 for me. My hip is still a bit sore 6 weeks after my tumble. I'm trying the lower tyre pressure approach and just taking it easy on the cornering; decided aggressive cornering wasn't going to speed up my ride and not worth the risk of an injury. You don't get any warning; one second you're riding along and the next you're spread over the tarmac.


posted by Shades [247 posts]
22nd January 2014 - 15:13


Touch wood, I've escaped winter pretty lightly in the past only meeting black ice twice up the top of big hills (why I thought to go there Thinking ). Limiting leaning, lowering tyre pressure, not slamming on the brakes and sticking to main routes have touch wood got me by. That said for the last two winters I've been down in the flat lands of Peterborough and IIRC I've only seen ice once! Up north at this time of year I would go on shorter training loops round a local housing estate's main road or stay in if I thought there was a chance of ice certainly not venture that bit further like I do down here.

Howl Like a Bianchi

HLaB's picture

posted by HLaB [56 posts]
30th January 2014 - 14:43