Winter Ride musings

Rolandisimo and I just returned from a cold and windy ride at Thacher Park (in the hills SW of Albany NY).

Conditions: 18 deg. F, 30-50mph winds
Surface: 0.5 to 2 inches of ice under 1-4 inches of windblown snow

This was extremely challenging. The ice (there was an ice storm here last Monday) was sometimes glare and hard, and sometimes crunched down into a layer of dry leaves underneath. The snow on top prevented us from knowing which was where, so we’d be standing on the pedals, bulling our way through the breakable crust, and then we’d hit the glare, hard ice and spin right the heck out.

Riding on the flat through the breakable crust was like riding uphill, we were completely unable to generate any rolling momentum. Riding uphill was nigh impossible because we’d hit a glare patch and we’d immediately UPD violently. We could delicately manage downhills if we carefully rode smoothly and straight, but as soon as we’d try to manuver, we’d slide out like a cartoon character on a banana peel.

We felt like we were rank beginners again. I couldn’t imagine more difficult riding conditions. Fun, fun, fun!

I had a ride like that a couple of weeks ago. It was fun but terribly hard.

Hah I loved how you said fun fun fun at the end of that. Doesn’t sound like my cup of tea, but I did do my first bit of real snow muni today aswell. It was a fairly different ride from yours but I did have a few similar issues.

It was mostly powder except where the skiers had packed down paths through the trails.

At first I was riding (or trying to) pretty much everywhere but I quickly realized that with the short cranks I was putting too much power into everything and I was slipping all over the place, if I leaned forward at all to accelerate the wheel would just spin like mad.

The downhills were different though, much easier infact. I could go through the powder (at this point only about 6-10 inches deep) without any problems and infact it would kind of help me stay in control by slowing me down, this was until I had to do tight turns, I was fine on the first one then the second turn would send me slipping and flying into some trees (although it was pretty fun smashing into them).

In the packed down snow though, it was similar to your experience with ice. I would be riding along then all of a sudden it would slope off to one side, or it would turn into a powder hole and I would sink in or spin out.

The other thing that was hard was riding on anything on an angle, I could ride straight up slopes (if I got some momentum first which wasn’t easy) and I could ride down them, but riding with them was nearly impossible unless I was immediatly turning into them.

I found one particularly rocky area that was nice and packed down and despite it being covered with snow it was still rideable. I had ridden this area once before on my muni and it was a bit of a challenge then, but this time I was a bit more gutsy and found that as long as I kept my speed up and never tried to speed up or slow down I was fine.

One of the biggest things that I found with snow is that you need to keep your speed constant, it is when you accelerate or decelerate that you will have issues.

Now I really want to try some 8 inch deep powder riding downhill. I got a couple small tastes of it and it was alot of fun, so bring it on!

Another thing is that it would have been nice to have some longer cranks on the 26er, even some 150’s would have helped.