Road salt sucks

Use sparingly

November 2009 may have been wet but at least it was warm, right up until the last night of the month. The morning of 1st December dawned around my way to the sound of ice being scraped off windscreens and car engines slowly warming on the drive.

Hard to say why people do the latter, since the quickest way to warm an engine is to drive it – gently, of course. Besides, plenty of cars are stolen these days with the engine running to get warm while the owner pops indoors…

More importantly, except where contribution to climate change is concerned, was the collorary to icy windscreens. Council gritters had been busy during the night spreading their socially useful but mechanically disastrous mixture of rock salt and whatever goes with it.

Given the slick coating of frost still covering shaded parts of my road a couple of hours later, gritting was welcome. Black ice is not something any cyclist cares to encounter; even if you are riding a tricycle or fixed wheel there is the possibility of being hit by a car.

Salting the roads this early in winter is a bit unusual these days but the effect on bicycles in particular is the same; corrosion where two dissimilar metals meet. It affects motorcycles even more viciously and mine stays in the garage through the worst of it but at least this once led me to the cure for all corrosion ills in the shape of ACF 50 spray.

Trouble is, the stuff spreads like fungus over anything it touches, making application a bit hit or, er, hit… Best way is to apply it with a small paintbrush after squirting it into a pot, and not just to save money.

A return to excessively wet weather is forecast for the next few days and, according to meteorologists, we can look forward to a mild winter thanks to the effect of the El Niño phenomenon, in which case my can should last another 12 months… but weather forecasts have been wrong before now.

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