A cyclist in Norway who had fallen unconscious and been buried under snow on a cycle path owes his life to a snowplough driver who had spotted his bike’s handelbars sticking out of the snow on Sunday morning.
The driver, who stopped to remove the bicycle from his vehicle’s path on the island of Nøtterøy, around 60km south of Oslo, spoke of his surprise at discovering the frozen cyclist.
"I saw some handlebars poking out of the snow," he said, quoted on Orange.co.uk, which cited an Aftenposten report.
"When I got closer, I saw that there was a man on a bike completely covered by snow. I also noticed that the man was wearing a reflective vest."
The man, aged 26 and from the island of Tjøme was said to be frozen and unconscious when an ambulance summoned by the driver arrived, but he regained consciousness on the way to hospital in Vestfold.
The cyclist had no recollection of how he had come to be lying on the path.
Police officer Knut Henning Bjune speculated that drink may have played a role, telling Aftenposten: "He said that the last thing he remembered was riding home from a friend's house.
"He had probably been out on a piss-up, which may have contributed to the ride ending the way it did."
While it’s not clear whether or not alcohol was involved, drink can be a factor in cases of people freezing to death.
In an article on Drinkaware.co.uk, Professor Colin Drummond, head of the Section of Alcohol Research at King’s College London, explains:
When you drink, it dilates the peripheral blood vessels near your skin, which means more blood – and heat – flows to these vessels.
That takes blood and heat away from the core of your body. So while it feels like you’re warm because your skin is warm, your vital organs aren’t as warm as you might think they are.
If you then go out in the cold after drinking, because you’ve got a lot of heat on the periphery of your body, you can lose heat very easily and quickly. And that can be dangerous.
Drinking too much leads to bad decisions. If you drunkenly decide to walk home across a snowy field instead of getting a taxi, you’re putting yourself at risk. Hypothermia can take hold quickly and can even lead to death.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.