Sunday, December 10, 2017

Let it Snow!

I know there's a lot of people that live near me in PA that don't like the cold or the snow.  They bitch and moan about it.  I never understood that.  If you don't like something, why do you put up with it- year after year after year?  It's not going to get any better.  Winter is still going to come and dump some snow on you if you live in the Northern latitudes.  Just move to Florida or wherever if you don't like it.  For some, that's not possible..they just can't afford to pack up and move.  Or, maybe they have older parents in the area to care for, etc.  I'm guessing the REAL reason why they bitch and moan is because they don't know how to enjoy the snow.  That is, they don't sled, ski, hike, snowmobile, walk, or bike in the snow which is a shame.  Some of the most beautiful nature photos I've taken over the years have been snow scenes where I was outside skiing, biking, walking, etc.  Plus, who doesn't like the fresh clean air after a recent snow and the warm sun on your face?

I bike in the snow with my mountain bike.  As long as the snow is 2" or less it's fine.  When it gets above 3" it can be a little tricky unless it's one of those powdery snows (which we don't get very many of here in the Northeast).  I just deflate my tires from 50psi down to 30psi for more/better traction.  Fat bike tires can run as low as 10psi of air in the tires.

The next thing I recommend is to change your pedals from the clip-in type to flat pedals.  Because you're going to put your foot down sooner than later and when you do, your cleats will fill up with snow and make it hard to clip back in.  Plus, your reaction time is much faster getting your foot on the ground for stability with flat pedals vs. clip-in pedals.  And, you're not going to have to worry about your foot coming off the pedal when you're climbing because you shouldn't be climbing in the snow anyway.  You also want to stay seated while you ride.  No need to stand up on the pedals.  The bike is going to wash out a little from side-to-side.  It will feel weird/unsafe at first but you'll get used to it.  Just spin at a good high rate (80-90 rpm) and don't mash the pedals.  Also, get used to the fact that you're not going to be riding at your customary speeds. If you normally ride at 15 mph on dry trails, don't expect to go faster than 8 mph in the snow.  And, you're going to use much more power to go 8 mph in the snow than you would 15 mph in dry conditions.  If the trail becomes slippery you can always put on some studded tires.  I've never done that yet, but there's always a first time.  If I do, I'll report it here.

As far as clothing, I dress for Winter bike riding the same way I do for skiing..except I don't wear the baggy pants that I do when skiing.  I wear long winter stretch riding/cycling pants.  They're comfortable and warm.  I also wear the lobster gloves where the thumb and index finger have their own sleeve, and the last three fingers of your hand share another sleeve.  If your hands still get cold you can always pop a hand-warmer inside your gloves.  I'll wear sunglasses or ski goggles depending on conditions.  Always wear goggles or glasses of some type with UV protection from the sun.  Don't forget your sunscreen too.  For shoes/boots, I love my specialized winter riding boots.  Except for the snow, I change to flat pedals and hiking boots.  If your feet get cold, pop in toe warmers- they work.  Lastly, don't forget to hydrate.  Riding in the snow is a workout.  It's tough riding and you're going to work up a sweat just like X-Country skiing..regardless of whether it's in the 20s.  I wear my Camelbak hydration pack on my back.

So, get out and ride and enjoy the snow... LET IT SNOW!  Power ON!  Coach Rob

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