Biking in snow and ice – some tips for making it through extreme winter spells.
Blimey! It’s been a bit icy out there these past few weeks! If like me you have had one goal in mind on every ride and that has been to get back in one piece – I can empathise. Since I don’t have a turbo trainer to keep fit and active on, my choices have been limited – either get out there or hang the helmet up for a few days or even weeks? Given we are back in lockdown 2021 – the sequel, I feel compelled to get out particularly as these dark winter evenings are soooo long. However there are some things we can do to help us ride a little more confidently and safely in the snow and ice – so here’s a few tips to help you.
- Check the forecast – generally it tends to be colder in the mornings and trails and roads may well be less icy if temperatures are forecast to rise during the day.
- Choose your route carefully – If you can, ride on south facing terrain – you will find in winter, the sun barely rises high enough to shine on north facing slopes. Forest trails also provide a bit more cover from snow but sometimes the journey there can be more treacherous than its worth.
- Tyre pressure and tread – running your tyres at a lower pressure allows a larger surface area to be in contact with the ground & will maximise traction and changing your tyre to something with a bit more grip will help when riding through snow.
- Change to riding with flat pedals (or loosen SPD’s so you can extract your foot quickly) and even lower your saddle slightly so you can get your foot down quickly if required
- Look ahead! Be on the look-out for ice so you have time to make contingency plans and avoid!
- If you need to brake, use your rear brake gently over your front – ride slower than you normally would so you give yourself a bit more time to take action if required.
- When biking through snow choose a gear not too high so you’re putting loads of power down through the pedals, not too low so you’re spinning – both encourage the wheels to lose traction and spin.
If you do hit ice:
~Stay calm and try not to tense up.
~Look ahead NOT down at your front wheel – aim for the other side
~Don’t hit the brakes
~Don’t try to change direction
~Keep your pedalling smooth and regular – if descending stop pedalling and focus on keeping balanced