Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Biking on Snowmobile Trails

It is amazing how you learn different aspects of riding your bike. This goes from dry & cool weather, switching over to the heat of the summer, watching for leaves & branches during fall rides, and then what to do in the winter time for fun bike riding.

Three years ago I would have considered it crazy to ride my bike in the winter in Buffalo, NY. That is what rollers or trainers were for but man are rollers boring and I could not even imagine riding a bike stuck to a trainer for 2 or more hours. Then I found out about the TransIowa bike race and realized that if I ever wanted to compete in that I would need to learn how to comfortable ride in the winter.

Two years ago my sister and I were walking around Frisco, Colorado and I found some studded snow tires that would work on my Bianchi SS Muss mountain bike:So I bought them and took them back home with me. You should have seen the looks that I got in the airport carrying these around on my backpack. The questions were unreal also - you ride your bike in the winter? Now I do :)

Oh they were the Nokian and I love them. I don't use both right now. More on that later.

The first season was a learning experience. I did not understand the basics of deflating the tire to provide proper flotation so I stuck to the roads and the tires worked great. Last season I spent a lot of time on the bike but stuck with my mountain bike tires and stayed away from snowmobile trails because my first experience was a poor one, to say the least!

Well this year I made it a point to learn about snowbiking for 2 reasons:

1) Jill Homer - need I say more!

2) Arrowhead 135 - A dream of mine someday

So I put my 2.35 tires on the Bianchi, went to a lower gear combination (don't ask I have terrible memory about boring stuff like that!), and started reading. We had some great snow early in the season and the trails got put into use. I lowered my pressure and off I went.

My first trek was from Cole to Scherff just to get a feel for it. Once I became comfortable I started taking it from the other side of Scherff to Chestnut Ridge Park and then back home. One night I forgot my flat tools and ended up hiking back home 3 miles from the park because I put the bike down hard - it was that or a tree! - and I destroyed the valve stem.

Last night was a great night (or so I thought) for some riding. It was not warm - still below freezing - but the snow softened up too much and it was great fun. I did an awesome endo trying to cross a little summer water ditch that was full of soft snow. It was quite funny and I wish I had a camera crew with me at the time. Then there was the adventure onto the new trail I had yet to ride. Went from a ride to a hike-a-bike in a couple of sections. That is tough walking on ice with bike shoes!

Lessons learned: When in doubt, let air out
Always have your lights on in case of snowmobiles on the trails
Never dress warmer than necessary because you are going to be working hard!
The air temperature over the snow covered ground is about 5 degrees
cooler than bare pavement
It is a blast!!!!!!

Get out there and ride your bike!

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