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Winter Cycling Don't let snow and ice discourage you this winter. The key element to year-round cycling is proper attire! Check out this winter cycling forum to chat with other ice bike fanatics.

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Old 12-17-07, 07:37 PM   #1
macteacher
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how do you get through the snow??

Okay...so i've overcome the problem of winter cycling and have some good gear. I tried cycling in the snow once a few weeks ago and i fell and could hardly get through it.

Plowed snow is okay... a cm or two i can get through it...but when ur faced with roughly 30 cm or 12 inches, how do you get through it? I find I just get stuck.

Any tricks?
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Old 12-17-07, 07:47 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by macteacher View Post
Okay...so i've overcome the problem of winter cycling and have some good gear. I tried cycling in the snow once a few weeks ago and i fell and could hardly get through it.

Plowed snow is okay... a cm or two i can get through it...but when ur faced with roughly 30 cm or 12 inches, how do you get through it? I find I just get stuck.

Any tricks?

A cm or two isn't very much but greater amounts of accumulating snow is very problematic for the bicycle. Wider tires help to a point but there becomes a point where the bike becomes useless. Plowed roads and virgin snow are the best methods of prevailing.
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Old 12-17-07, 08:06 PM   #3
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Not many tricks, really. Letting air out of your tires/getting wider ones will help with traction, but slow you down even more as you're displacing more snow. Skinnier tires will do the opposite, and you'll feel like you're riding on ice in some types of snow.

The best trick is to simply find a way around going through the deep snow.
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Old 12-17-07, 09:06 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by macteacher View Post
Okay...so i've overcome the problem of winter cycling and have some good gear. I tried cycling in the snow once a few weeks ago and i fell and could hardly get through it.

Plowed snow is okay... a cm or two i can get through it...but when ur faced with roughly 30 cm or 12 inches, how do you get through it? I find I just get stuck.

Any tricks?
12" deep snow? You walk. For any good distance it's too much work. Forget it.

About 6" your pedals hit the snow. If you are in good shape you can ride a little while in 6" or 8" (even with the pedals going into the snow) of fresh cold powder but it's a huge amount of work. I can go a couple of miles. That's about it.

If it's slushy, sticky, snow don't bother with the bike at 6". Just walk.
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Old 12-17-07, 09:30 PM   #5
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1~2in of snow is doable... 4in is pushing it... 12in... I think you need skis or a snow mobile.
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Old 12-17-07, 11:42 PM   #6
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I've done 8" of snow twice and it's do-able. Much deeper and you need something that's not normal. A pugsley might cut it if you run the tires really low and if the snow is cooperative. Otherwise, time for snow shoes.
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Old 12-18-07, 07:36 AM   #7
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ok...but even at 4" un-plowed snow, my front wheel gets stuck, and my rear just spins...lol i end up falling. Maybe its due to the type of snow we get up here...heavy wet packing snow...i find it impassible, especially if im following car tracks...it becomes so difficult to keep the car straight
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Old 12-18-07, 07:47 AM   #8
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something that has always helped me get through big stacks of snow (I went a few miles in the 14in we got the other day in burlington, vt (the roads had been plowed but there was easily 6+ in on the ground)) is all of the above (wide low pressure tires) but also shifting as much of my weight over my rear tire as possible because this helps a lot with getting traction
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Old 12-18-07, 07:52 AM   #9
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Heavy wet packing snow? It can get icy and/or slippery, especially if you're riding on car tracks. You do have studded tyres?

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Old 12-18-07, 08:47 AM   #10
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ok...but even at 4" un-plowed snow, my front wheel gets stuck, and my rear just spins...lol i end up falling. Maybe its due to the type of snow we get up here...heavy wet packing snow...i find it impassible, especially if im following car tracks...it becomes so difficult to keep the car straight
It depends.

It's not just the depth of the snow that counts. On flat pavement 4" of snow is OK if you know how to control the bike in a slide, put weight on the back wheel, and pedal smoothly.

Knobbies, wide and soft make it much easier.

If there is hard ice underneath, you need studded tires.
If there is hard ice underneath that has large deep frozen tire ruts underneath it may be totally unrideable. If the rut is deep enough and it goes almost the same direction as your front wheel it can toss you over.
If there are hard frozen footprints and huge bumps underneath, wide studded tires (Like Nokian 294's) with about 25 psi. will make it passable, if you keep the bike totally upright. Hard narrow or non studded tires make it worse. In some cases impossible, you don't say anything about your bike or tires, that can be the difference between rideable or not.

Yes, heavy wet snow makes it more work but not unrideable. A frozen crust that collapses as you ride, can make it unrideable.
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Old 12-18-07, 08:59 AM   #11
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Sometimes I can ride in car tracks. Otherwise I hoof it to the nearest plowed road.

Or I stay home.
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Old 12-18-07, 09:18 AM   #12
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we just got about 12 inches of that heavy nasty snow over the weekend. when I went to work we had 2 inches and for the way home there was about 10. I tried and tried for way too long before I gave up. Should have said screw it earlier cause my quads and knees are still sore.
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Old 12-18-07, 12:20 PM   #13
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Around the DC area, not much would be moving with more than six inches of snow and with twelve things would be at a standstill. That's when I get out my cross country skis and head for the MUP even though work will be closed.
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Old 12-18-07, 02:09 PM   #14
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I live in a desert so we only get 12" about once each winter. Most of the time it's 2-6". Anyhow, I've always attacked snow much in the same way I attack the sand traps in Moab. Low gear, weight on the back wheel, let the front wander almost like you're riding with no hands. If you try and force it into a perfect straight line, the front wheel will just stuff itself instead of floating. You need to maintain some control but when the bike wants to go right, it seems better for me to just lean into it and be patient about getting it going back in the direction I intend to go.
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Old 12-18-07, 02:52 PM   #15
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I live in a desert so we only get 12" about once each winter. Most of the time it's 2-6". Anyhow, I've always attacked snow much in the same way I attack the sand traps in Moab. Low gear, weight on the back wheel, let the front wander almost like you're riding with no hands. If you try and force it into a perfect straight line, the front wheel will just stuff itself instead of floating. You need to maintain some control but when the bike wants to go right, it seems better for me to just lean into it and be patient about getting it going back in the direction I intend to go.
+1 this technique allowes me to rige in 12" of dry powder on an hardtail mtb with studs, I do unclip from my pedals though and it sure is faster than walking in that stuff

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Old 12-18-07, 02:56 PM   #16
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I just take the right hand car track. Pushing snow up to your crankset takes an awesome amount of power. It's doable, but you're better off walking from an efficiency standpoint.
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Old 12-18-07, 08:47 PM   #17
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I tried cycling in the snow once a few weeks ago and i fell and could hardly get through it
Welcome to the vinter vunderlant! Moving through snow, slush, and some types of ice is a lot tougher than moving along normal surfaces. You just have to slog through it. I'm never too proud to get off and push if it gets too deep, either. I call it man hauling.

Studs help, as does basic winterization. But it's always going to be a challenge. That's what makes it fun!
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Old 12-18-07, 10:38 PM   #18
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Welcome to the vinter vunderlant! Moving through snow, slush, and some types of ice is a lot tougher than moving along normal surfaces. You just have to slog through it. I'm never too proud to get off and push if it gets too deep, either. I call it man hauling.

Studs help, as does basic winterization. But it's always going to be a challenge. That's what makes it fun!
I'm with Cosmoline!
Here in "Winterpeg" studs make the difference!
I have 2 winter rigs, one 26"MTB and a 700c commuter
both with studs.

Oddly enough the 700s seem to cut thru a bit better
than the 26'' tires in deeper(road) snow cover.

Winter..........putting the "F" back in Fun!...
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