Ice in the hills

Is this the only thing left standing in Cumbria this icy morning?

Skating on thin ice?

The mum ahead of me on the school run is acting really weird. She’s holding on to the wall like she’s drunk, feet flailing beneath her. Moments later I mirror her stance. We cling to the grey stone as our feet slither and slide. On this grey winter’s morning, with freezing rain pelting onto our heads, we’re both dancing on ice.

Sheet ice. The whole pavement is covered in it. The school playground is a rink. The kids vow they’ll be skating all lunchtime while the teachers vow they won’t.

We’re on thin ice

“We’re skating on thin ice,” I say to Stuart, as I slam the door and take off my coat.

“I know, it’s like glass out there.”

I shake my head. “I don’t mean today. I mean next week. We’re never going to get up to Alston, the highest village in the damn country, on bikes, with kids, in this. Why would anyone organise a cycle trip in February?

“Because it adds another element of uncertainty. And that’s what makes an adventure.

“That’s what makes it a pain in the….”

Cumbrian hills in the snow

When we planned to ride the c2c at half term, we didn’t imagine this.

Are we just too stubborn to call it off?

The thing is, adventure addiction aside, we’re both too stubborn to call off next week’s winter cycling coast to coast ride of Britain. Instead we start to come up with contingency plans to cope with snow, freezing rain, ice, fog, hail, sleet, gale force winds and anything else the British Isles can throw at us.

The first involves Stuart cycling back every day to pick up the car and bring it to where we are. That means if we need to abandon due to snow, we will at least have the car with us to make an escape. But what about the fifty mile legs? And if we leave the car somewhere along the route how do we get back on the train to pick it up at the end of the trip. Cumbria isn’t exactly New York when it comes to cabs and it can take most of the day just to get from our house to Keswick by bus.

Another plan involves Stuart’s Mum coming as a support vehicle..

“But she spent 36 hours getting from London to Scotch Corner that time. We had to call the police”

“Good point. And she wasn’t even going to Scotch Corner.”

Cumbria in the snow

Beautiful but too treacherous to ride? That’s the question

Options, options…

And then we wonder about splitting the party so that one of us is officially the support vehicle and the others ride.

“But then, if it’s snowing we won’t get the car up to Alston will we?”


I look at the pile of hats, gloves and thermals waiting to be packed.

“If it’s snowing will we still ride?” I ask in a tiny voice.


We both laugh nervously, knowing that we probably will at least try.


Well if it gets too much we can always do this instead

Do you like a little winter challenge? Or would you have a duvet week?  

Check out how we got on our our winter C2C challenge ride.

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Kirstie is the Editor of The Family Adventure Project. A professional writer, she's the creative and journalistic force behind many of the stories and features published here. She's a co-founder and co-director of the project, the misadventure magnet part of the partnership and a busy mum.

10 Responses to “Skating on thin ice…. contemplating winter cycling” Subscribe

  1. Lisa February 10, 2012 at 12:55 am #

    I’m Canadian but a bit of a wimp when it comes to cold winters. I wouldn’t dream of going for a bike ride in the snow – you are very brave to even attempt it – should be quite an adventure!

    • Stuart (Family Adventure Project) February 10, 2012 at 4:16 pm #

      We wouldn’t normally dream of doing it, but doing something in different weather will make for a different kind of experience for sure. And it will help harden us up for Iceland, or put us off all together!

  2. walkingon travels February 10, 2012 at 6:45 am #

    I would be under my duvet with my Kindle reading about your adventures from the warmth of my bed. I admire anyone who can tackle the winter, but I am a huge woose in the snow. I need to know warm, dry socks and a hot cocoa are close at hand. Can’t wait to follow your journey!

    • Stuart (Family Adventure Project) February 10, 2012 at 4:18 pm #

      Duvets, kindles, dry socks and hot chocolate will all be close at hand! We’re not camping, an on bike flask of hot chocolate is de rigeur and we’ve mapped the coffee shops across the country!

  3. Tracy Burns February 10, 2012 at 1:15 pm #

    Reading this has me alternating between feeling inspired by your plans, thinking wow that you are coming up with contingency plans rather than just shelfing the idea … and wanting to retreat for the nearest heater to warm up at just the thought of cycling in winter. Have a wonderful adventure and I can’t wait to hear your story.

    • Stuart (Family Adventure Project) February 10, 2012 at 4:20 pm #

      We find ourselves alternating too, part inspired by dealing with the challenge of unpredictable weather and part questioning whether it is foolish to attempt it. A good bail out plan can help give you the confidence to stretch yourself a little further.

  4. Becca @ R We There Yet Mom? February 10, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

    I am freezing in the 50s here in Texas!! WOW!! I can’t wait to see & hear all about this adventure!!

    Thanks for linking up!


  5. Nadine Hightower February 10, 2012 at 8:36 pm #

    That and sit by the fire!

  6. Sonja February 11, 2012 at 5:44 am #

    You are very brave. Doesn’t sound like anything I’d ever want to try.


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