Friday, December 15, 2017

Mtn Bike Riding in the Snow

I led a group ride in the snow last night on the canal/tow path near my home.  It was in the teens cold.  When I got in my car after my ride, my car thermometer read 13F .  The snow was 1-2" with occasional icy spots.  Everyone stayed upright.  The ride was 22 miles long and took just under 2 hrs. averaging 13-14 mph with a couple stops for water and an energy bar.  Normally, I drink while I ride, but last night was so cold that my Camelbak Hydration Pack hose froze solid.  Here is my essential riding list for the snow:

BIKE- gotta have the right bike with the right tires.  I don't recommend a hybrid bike or a cross bike in 2 inches or more of snow.  Yes, I'm sure you can ride it in 2" of snow but it's not very stable.  Not stable like a Mtn. Bike or Fat Bike.

PEDALS and SHOES- some people still use clip-in pedals in the snow.  I don't because you'll invariably need to stop and when you do, your pedals will fill up with snow.  I use flat pedals with stiff sole shoes and flat bottoms.  You don't want to wear shoes with an aggressive tread pattern.  You want the tread to be flat so the metal nubs/barbs on the flat pedals can dig in for grip/traction.

GAITERS- these should be waterproof and cover the entire shoe including the tops.  This will keep the snow out which will prevent the snow from melting inside your shoes.  If you get your socks wet from melting snow, your feet will get cold in a heartbeat.

POGIES and/or GLOVES?- I don't like Pogies.  They're the big muff looking things that attach to your bike handlebars and grips- that you insert your gloved hand into.  They're too poofy for my taste.  Besides, I want my hands free to do whatever: get a drink, press a button on my bike computer, get a drink, blow my nose, scratch my ear, eat, etc.  I like Ski Gloves.  They work well.  If your hands still get cold, pop a hand warmer inside.

FACE/EYE/HEAD PROTECTION-  I lumped these all together because you want them to fit together.  You want your goggles or sunglasses to fit our helmet.  When it gets real cold and windy outside, I ditch my bike helmet and use my ski helmet w/ goggles or sunglasses.  If there is a chance of frostbite, I'll use a balaclava (full face/head mask).

FENDERS- I have a clip-on fender for my rear wheel (and it works great).  I should get one for the front.  They make them but they're just harder to find.

LIGHTS- for night riding you need a good hi-power (hi-lumen) output light.  You'll also need a high capacity battery to run the light for at least 2-4 hrs. since you never know how long you'll be riding or caught outside in the cold.  Make sure your light battery is fully charged.  The cold has a way of zapping your battery (even Lithium batteries).

BIKE RACK- I see people disassemble their bikes and throw them in the trunk after their ride.  To me, that's too much of a hassle.  Plus, it dirties up the back of your SUV or trunk. I like the hitch mounted bike racks.  It takes all of 5 seconds to safely secure your bike to the rack and it keeps all the dirt/salt/gravel/etc. outside of your car.

Power ON!  Coach Rob

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