Snowy Night Ride Just About Killed Me
Has anyone else had any epic snowy night rides where you got yourself in over your head?
I went on a night ride in the snow this week at my local trail at Alum Creek State Park near Columbus, Ohio. It usually takes me about 30 minutes to ride the 6 mile loop during the summer. This trip took over 2 hours to tackle just 4 miles of the trail. It would have probably been faster to just carry my bike on my back. One of the guys had his battery run out of juice and couldn't see a thing. I couldn't keep my bike upright. I fell behind the group, so I spent most of the "ride" alone in the woods dreaming about the end of the trail.
I did get some great photos though. Check 'em out:
Dark Snowy Mountain Bike Death March | Quickdirt
You guys are doing it wrong... No fatbikes.
Not that I'm an expert on "night time snow rides" but I thought I'd share some thoughts;
Riding on snow "Always" take longer ( and requires more effort ). With that in mind and the fact that batteries don't last as long in the cold you need to plan for the additional time needed to finish the ride and the additional needed run time of your lights. The good thing about snow is that it is highly reflective so you don't have to run full power as much. Heck, for that matter on a night with a good moon you almost don't need lights...I said almost. You won't need the long throwers on a snow ride. Speed is dangerous on a snow ride. You go slow, take your time and don't try anything fancy. Tricky stuff that you clean on a normal ride you might have to walk through on a snowy ride.
Riding in snow is just difficult. Doing so successfully depends on knowing what equipment to use. Wet, damp, slushy snow is something you want to stay away from. Good snow is light, dryish, fluffy and better if packed or not over 4 inches. The more snow there is the harder it will be to pedal through it and to control your front wheel on the hills.
Once the snow has some packed areas riding is much easier BUT then you have to watch out for slick icy areas. The best tires to use are normal MTB tires (2.1's ) equipped with studs. Believe me, studs make a world of difference once you start riding on some icy hills. Years ago I made myself a set of homemade studded tires and found out that they work great. Unfortunately I don't have them anymore and the commercial brands cost a fortune. Oh how I wish I had a good set of studded tires! This year we really got the snow and I was wishing I had a set.
Another thing worth mentioning that it is probably a good idea to forgo the use of your clip pedals when riding in snow. With the possibility of sudden falls caused by snow and ice rising with colder temperatures it would probably be a good idea to ride with just a set of good flat pedals. Perhaps a set with the little studs on the platform ( for added traction ) would be the way to go. Elbow and knee pads probably a good idea as well because "Falling" is likely going to happen.
Now about fatter tires; I bought a set of fatter tires some years ago but truthfully I don't think they help that much in snow. They are heavier and harder to pedal. I can only imagine how hard it would be to pedal a "fat bike ".
I rode a local trail here and did 15 miles in about 2 hours. Now, I did that on a moonlander so having that tool, there is no way I would ride my mtb. If I did however, I would get the highest air volume tire as possible and run a low psi.
Also run on cross country ski routes with areas where there are no crazy steep climbs.
Riding on rollers also helps hold a line.
Originally Posted by Cat-man-do
I have to add that its been like 15 years since I really rode in snow until last week excluding minor dustings. I had the misfortune of going during that awkward "in between" weather where it wasn't exactly thawing and wasn't exactly frozen. What it was was 2 hours of slow, walking pace single track that was bone jarring as horses and hikers had made tracks everywhere that had frozen over. Mind you I was on a hard tail with 1.8" of travel up front and a 38t chainring. I didn't leave my lowest gear the whole ride. The good news was that I didn't need much light because it was a slow ride and the snow makes everything brighter. Despite everything it was awesome though. Look forward to getting out again before its all gone
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