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  1. #1
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    How wet is too wet in cold upstate NY?

    I moved here in 2011, after spending the last 30 years of my life in much warmer climates. This is the first year I'm riding in weather this cold, and I am looking for some guidance on how wet is too wet this time of year. I live north of Albany and was going to go riding with a friend at the Stables in Saratoga or Luther Trails in Malta tomorrow.

    It's a basically a 30% chance of rain ("light showers") between now and 11PM in this area, and freezing temperatures from 5AM to 9AM. We were going to go riding at 10AM, but I am concerned about how wet the trails may be.

    I'm new to long winters, freezing temperatures and the potential for ice. How does cold weather, like I described above, impact trails and how soon they're safe to ride?

  2. #2
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    Winter riding is a definite learning experience, but as of right now I don't think that you really have to worry that much about that, in re: frozen trails. If the temperatures haven't been consistently cold up there, meaning below freezing for days with no temps above 40, then the trails should just be wet. When that happens the ground can freeze then the top can can melt during the day making a layer of mud on top of icy conditions which can catch you off guard. You do have to be on the lookout for shady frozen spots but at this point again I doubt it.

    Saratoga MBA, SMBA , has a ride scheduled this weekend so one would assume the trails are dry and in good enough condition to not do damage to the ecosystem.

    So slap on some 2.4's and ride.

    Granted I don't live there anymore, but I did for 22 years.

  3. #3
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    Luther Forest will be fine. Those trails don't really retain water and are usually dry shortly after rain fall, if they get wet at all.

    The Stables in Saratoga tend to retain water a bit more but should be fine right now. I haven't been on the trails in a couple weeks, but should be ok. Roots and rocks will be very slippery, and you will encounter the occasional mud puddle, but for the most part the riding should be good.

    It hasn't been cold enough to freeze the ground solid just yet. It's getting there, and once everything is frozen the riding will be stellar! Nothing like riding frozen trails....

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmitchell13 View Post
    Luther Forest will be fine. Those trails don't really retain water and are usually dry shortly after rain fall, if they get wet at all.
    Road there for a few hours today with friends, and it was definitely drier than I was worried it might be.

    Quote Originally Posted by jmitchell13 View Post
    It hasn't been cold enough to freeze the ground solid just yet. It's getting there, and once everything is frozen the riding will be stellar! Nothing like riding frozen trails....
    I...can't tell if you're serious. And I mean that. Is there anything better about riding once everything is frozen? Any reasons you can give me to look forward to it getting colder would be much appreciated.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by peteer01 View Post
    Road there for a few hours today with friends, and it was definitely drier than I was worried it might be.

    I...can't tell if you're serious. And I mean that. Is there anything better about riding once everything is frozen? Any reasons you can give me to look forward to it getting colder would be much appreciated.
    Yeah, he's serious. He means that pretty soon the ground will freeze/harden quite a bit which provides tons of speed and traction similar to rock. Same goes for falling on it too
    I'd hit it, but I bruise like a peach.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by peteer01 View Post
    Road there for a few hours today with friends, and it was definitely drier than I was worried it might be.
    Malta, while much easier than Smba, is a bunch of fun to rip!
    I'd hit it, but I bruise like a peach.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by bpnic View Post
    Yeah, he's serious. He means that pretty soon the ground will freeze/harden quite a bit which provides tons of speed and traction similar to rock. Same goes for falling on it too
    Hm. I guess that's good? I'll have to experience it first hand to see.

    Speaking of cold, any advice on keeping toes from freezing uncomfortably during a multi-hour ride? I had socks and shoes on, and was more worried about my hands with thin gloves, but it was my toes that were numb at the end of the ride.

    Quote Originally Posted by bpnic View Post
    Malta, while much easier than Smba, is a bunch of fun to rip!
    My next trip to the stables will be my first trip to the stables, and I wanted to make sure there were good (not wet) conditions on my first trip, so we changed our plans to Luther based on the rain yesterday.

    I'm hoping I'll enjoy the stables, of the two guys I road with today, one did and one did not, and the more enjoyable option nearby, the better.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by peteer01 View Post
    Hm. I guess that's good? I'll have to experience it first hand to see.

    Speaking of cold, any advice on keeping toes from freezing uncomfortably during a multi-hour ride? I had socks and shoes on, and was more worried about my hands with thin gloves, but it was my toes that were numb at the end of the ride.

    My next trip to the stables will be my first trip to the stables, and I wanted to make sure there were good (not wet) conditions on my first trip, so we changed our plans to Luther based on the rain yesterday.

    I'm hoping I'll enjoy the stables, of the two guys I road with today, one did and one did not, and the more enjoyable option nearby, the better.
    It's good, not Autumn good, but better than the trainer in the basement I guess.

    Shoe covers from Pearl Izumi work well. I've been told plastic grocery bags around each foot trap the heat in just as well (for next to free), but I have yet to try it. I do plan to though.

    The Stables are a challenge, and not overly flowery, but fun in their own right. Especially so during the Summer
    I'd hit it, but I bruise like a peach.

  9. #9
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    If I waited for the trails to dry I'd hardly ever ride. Part of living in the NE. I suppose in high traffic areas you'd want to stay off though.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by peteer01 View Post
    Hm. I guess that's good? I'll have to experience it first hand to see.

    Speaking of cold, any advice on keeping toes from freezing uncomfortably during a multi-hour ride? I had socks and shoes on, and was more worried about my hands with thin gloves, but it was my toes that were numb at the end of the ride.

    My next trip to the stables will be my first trip to the stables, and I wanted to make sure there were good (not wet) conditions on my first trip, so we changed our plans to Luther based on the rain yesterday.

    I'm hoping I'll enjoy the stables, of the two guys I road with today, one did and one did not, and the more enjoyable option nearby, the better.
    As bpnic said, I'm serious. The stables rides so much faster when the ground is frozen. Think riding on concrete vs through your lawn. There is traction galore everywhere.

    I have no great advise on keeping toes warm. I have the same issue and don't have a great solution. However I have used neoprene shoe covers in the past with decent results, but I find them less than ideal because they pack up with mud, snow and ice quickly and become more trouble than they are worth.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by peteer01 View Post
    Hm. I guess that's good? I'll have to experience it first hand to see.

    Speaking of cold, any advice on keeping toes from freezing uncomfortably during a multi-hour ride? I had socks and shoes on, and was more worried about my hands with thin gloves, but it was my toes that were numb at the end of the ride.
    My suggestion would be a switch to something like a light hiker rather than the running shoes you wore today. And wool socks rather than cotton.

    Have fun at The Stables. It was wet and super slick on Veterans Day so I imagine once the ground freezes and the air is cold for a while it will be a lot better.

    Riding on frozen dirt makes the ground feel tacky... nearly endless traction.
    Eric

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by skyphix View Post
    My suggestion would be a switch to something like a light hiker rather than the running shoes you wore today. And wool socks rather than cotton.

    Have fun at The Stables. It was wet and super slick on Veterans Day so I imagine once the ground freezes and the air is cold for a while it will be a lot better.

    Riding on frozen dirt makes the ground feel tacky... nearly endless traction.
    Hm. I have no light hiker shoes...and the very breathable running shoes probably aren't going to cut it.

    Would something like this with wool socks be a good idea?

    http://www.pricepoint.com/Brand/Five...-Pro-Shoes.axd

    The leather uppers combined with wool socks would, at the very least, be an improvement, right?

  13. #13
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    Anything would be better than what you wore yesterday, so yes, that'd be an improvement. The clipless shoes I wear are breathable about the same as the fivetens would be and plenty warm with wool socks.

    Bonus would be significantly improved grip on the pedal.
    Eric

  14. #14
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    Breathable shoes = no good. Wet is bad and no matter how hard I try on a winter ride I seem to find the only open water for miles around. Try a lightweight pair of light hikers, Keen waterproof work great for me, with woolies (and a heater pack if it's really cold) and platform pedals.

    I hope to be able to get out on Tuesday morning before it warms up and ra*ns. I love frozen rides! Killer traction and wide open bushwacking possibilities. Also looking forward to some frozen lake and river rides this winter on the new fatty.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by bpnic View Post
    Anything would be better than what you wore yesterday
    Alright, I ordered the Five Ten shoes, and also picked up these:
    How wet is too wet in cold upstate NY?-socks.jpg

    Slowly but surely I am figuring out how to be outside between October and April...

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by peteer01 View Post
    Slowly but surely I am figuring out how to be outside between October and April...
    Those are good, but you'll probably need more than one pair. Invest in some Darn Tough socks.
    Home page - Darn Tough Socks


    Lifetime guaranteed to not wear out. Best socks I've ever had. If they do wear out, they are made in VT, and you can either mail them or exchange them right there.

    Good choice on the Fivetens.
    Eric

  17. #17
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    Welcome to the cold, wet, northeast. With trial and error, you'll figure it out. Here are some things I've learned:

    To keep feet warm: Wool socks. Size the shoes so they aren't tight with fairly thick wool socks. Those 5.10's are nice (I have some), but when it's really cold, I prefer good old-fashioned, lined hiking boots (then they serve dual purpose). Even then, I need to use toe warmers when it's below 25 degrees. Snow often keeps my cleats from working. Neoprene covers work, but mine lasted less than a season when riding SMBA because I had to walk certain features. If you go for the neoprene option, duct-tape over your shoe vents also helps (keeps wind out), and I have been known to duct-tape hand warmers over the top of my shoes (under the neoprene). A bunch of companies have water-proof, cold weather riding shoes. My feet get cold in these if it's much under freezing, so I still have to wear wool socks and use foot warmers.

    To keep hands warm: You can invest in really expensive gloves, but I find that fleece gloves worn over my biking gloves work in most situations. My hands start out cold, but they warm up. With thicker gloves, my hands end up getting too hot, then sweaty, then cold.

    Frozen trails are fast trails. Keep your eyes out for glare ice. A lot of trails get ice due to freeze/thaw of snow and run-off. A bunch of people who like winter riding buy (or make) studded tires. Home-made studded tires work well. They are heavy, so I only use them when I know the trails are icy. If they are just frozen or snowy, good nobbies work great.

    Regarding wet trails - if it's been quite dry, then we get a rain, trails around here drain well. Luther is one of the best-drained places around here. Trails tend to get sloppy in the spring after the snow melt, or after a prolongued wet period.

    For the head, I duct tape the vents in my helmet. That, with a thin ear-warmer or cap, works well.

  18. #18
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    p.s. Riding SMBA is REALLY fun when there's a bit of snow. You can see everyone's lines.

  19. #19
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    [QUOTE=miatagal96;10835389
    For the head, I duct tape the vents in my helmet. That, with a thin ear-warmer or cap, works well.[/QUOTE]

    Good idea about duct tape on the vents - I hadn't thought of that. I wear an Under Armour balaclava under my helmet. I like that I can pull it up over my mouth and cheeks and it doesn't feel bulky.

    I really like their cold gear, too and paired with a wool sweater or fleece and a wind vest works great if I'm going to be riding at a decent pace. Sometimes I start off with a windbreaker on top of all of that, but often remove it after I get going. Key is to not get so hot that you sweat and then become chilled.

    It is a completely different experience riding in the winter; silent and peaceful. Enjoy!
    MTB4Her.com

  20. #20
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    How wet is too wet in cold upstate NY?

    Quote Originally Posted by peteer01 View Post
    Hm. I guess that's good? I'll have to experience it first hand to see.

    Speaking of cold, any advice on keeping toes from freezing uncomfortably during a multi-hour ride? I had socks and shoes on, and was more worried about my hands with thin gloves, but it was my toes that were numb at the end of the ride.

    My next trip to the stables will be my first trip to the stables, and I wanted to make sure there were good (not wet) conditions on my first trip, so we changed our plans to Luther based on the rain yesterday.

    I'm hoping I'll enjoy the stables, of the two guys I road with today, one did and one did not, and the more enjoyable option nearby, the better.
    I was there in the afternoon. I like it better than the stables. I'm not crazy about the uber-technical crap and prefer to stay on my bike. I just wish the trails at Luther Forest were longer. I have a decent 4.5 mike loop I can ride multiple laps of.

    To keep warm, I'd suggest getting a set of clip-in pedals and winter shoes. Straps can cut off blood flow and make your feet cold. For shoes, I like the shimano mw-81. http://www.campmor.com/shimano-mw81-...ike-shoe.shtml. I found a pair on Ebay for $150. Buy them a size larger than normal so you can wear a relatively thick pair of wool socks without restricting circulation. Wear a hat or beanie under your helmet.


    Posted from my iPad using Tapatalk HD.

  21. #21
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    Sealskinz socks are the way to go. Especially great to have on multi day anything when your boots or shoes are wet and there's no way to get them dry.

    Here are the ones I've been using:
    Hanz SealSkinz Submerge Waterproof Socks at nrs.com

  22. #22
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    I've played around a lot with different approaches to cold hands and feet and here is my "happy place", when it gets real cold.

    For the feet, its waterproof hiking boots. They don't have to be real expensive, just waterproof. I agree with slightly oversized so some heavy wool socks can be worn underneath. Obviously, I switch to platforms for his phase. I will also say that non-metal can be advantageous. Metal pedals get cold and that cold can eventually work through to your foot.

    For the hands, its pogies. If you Google "bike pogies" you'll find them. I own Moose-Mitts. Some people have made their own. There is by far no better solution on this planet. You can wear whatever you want inside and your hands will be toasty!

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