Some of us have no doubt packed our bikes away during the winter season, praying for an early spring. Others, of course, will still be hitting the trails every single day. We tip our hats to those individuals. And we offer tips to those who don’t count themselves among that elite group of individuals — yet. Here are the things you should be thinking about if you plan to go mountain biking while there’s snow on the ground.
- First and foremost, know when to ride and when to avoid riding. We don’t mean this based on hazardous conditions — we mean it based on the conditions that make harming the trail more likely. You should avoid riding when there are only a couple inches of snow on top of an already muddy trail. You’ll damage the trail you love.
- Riding in snow means one of two things: you either use fat tires with built-in low pressure, or you use your summer tires (please no) at low pressure. Keeping the pressure as high as you would in summer means you’ll sacrifice traction on the snow.
- Don’t freak out when you slide around. You should expect to slide around. It’s part of riding in the snow. Lots of winter bikers describe it as feeling like you’re skating on a bike, because that’s what you are doing.
- Since traction is more difficult to obtain on snow, you’ll want to increase the weight you place on wheels. Whereas you might stand to make climbing a hill easier in summer, you’ll want to train yourself to stay seated in the winter.
- Flat pedals will help you get a better grip with your boots after they touch the snow.
- Believe it or not, frostbite is much more common when the victim is dehydrated. Keep your water bottle full, and keep sipping throughout the ride even if you don’t feel like you’re thirsty. You still need the water in your body!