SNOW RIDING TIPS

In my opinion, true winter riding in the snow is some of the best and most fun cycling a person can do. Snow's awesome to ride in because it teaches you how to "feel" a bicycle in a way that cannot be reproduced in any other condition or climate. Experiencing the weight balance between both tires, learning how to let your bike float beneath you, training yourself to relax while simultaneously putting forth great effort and truly spinning or finding yourself walking cannot be beat. Learn how to ride in the snow and I'll guarantee you'll become a smoother, better, technical, efficient, stronger, faster and more fun rider. One last thing, riding in the snow is unbelievably frustrating and completely sucks if you don't know what you're doing but it is fun to fall into. Here are a few tips to offer some help and feel free to email me or ask me anything at next week's TNUA.

  1. Ride with a loose grip. Relax your upper body and let the bike float where it wants to and. Move with the bike instead of fighting it. If you don't RELAX you will be frustrated all night long.
  2. Keep your weight in the center of the bike while concentrating on keeping constant traction to the rear wheel. If your weight is too far forward the rear wheel will slip and the front end will plow through the snow. Sit up and back and you'll regain control quickly.
  3. Let the front of the bike float. If the bike starts to turn right or left on it's own just keep pedaling and slowly turn back the other way - (weight on the front end will make the bike plow and you will fall over). Keep your weight in the middle of the bike and concentrate on spinning.
  4. Remember, when the bike does start to plow just RELAX and go with it and KEEP pedaling. You'll be surprised at how often you'll ride right out of it. In the snow it's OK to go the wrong way for a few seconds until you get straightened out again. Don't fight your bike. Your brain wants to give a death grip on the handlebars and all that will do is amplify what the bike is already doing. Riders are amazed at how well this works once they try it.
  5. Use your gears as much as possible. This keeps snow out of the drive train and keeps you in a gear you can properly spin with instead of being lazy and not shifting. Good riders shift constantly so they're always at the proper cadence.
  6. Use both brakes evenly and frequently to keep them from freezing up. If anyone has ever told you to just use the rear brake - they lied. Skidding just leads to being out of control even if it's just the rear wheel. Learn to always use and most importantly "feel" or modulate both brakes and you'll always maintain traction and control.
  7. Use your brakes BEFORE you need them because it's going to take a few revolutions to clean the snow off the rims before they work. THIS IS IMPORTANT!!!!!!! Hit your brakes frequently to keep them working.
  8. Spin. Do not mash a huge gear or you'll find yourself getting nowhere in slippery conditions. Even, consistent and continuous effort on the pedals keeps your momentum going. Snow sucks up tons of energy if you try to use too big of a gear and you'll find your heart rate through the roof.
  9. Cheat as often as you need by jumping onto the road when necessary to keep up with the pack or just to take a break.
  10. FYI - Much slower speeds in the snow. Most people could almost run faster than you can ride in the snow! Riders comment on how warm they were all night even in very cold weather because the speeds are mostly between 5 and 10 miles per hour. (NOTE: stronger riders - stay in the deep snow as much as possible and you'll get an incredible workout).
  11. When losing traction try doing little mini wheelies by pulling back on the bars to force your weight to the rear wheel. You don't need to pull hard enough to pull the front wheel off the ground, just enough to send weight towards the back.
  12. More than ever, if you haven't been going down hills with proper technique, you will find yourself in a pile of snow. Ride with your pedals parallel and your butt behind the seat while squeezing the seat between your thighs (low center of gravity, weight over the rear wheel and the front end as light as possible so it can go over, around and through anything without sending you over the bars). Also, I know it's redundant but keep a loose grip on the bars, relax and stay low.

See ya, Scott