Snow riding: Gear versus skill?
Hello, I live at 9,000 feet in the U.S. Rockies and am riding for the first time in winter.
I have a 17" Specialized HRXC mountain bike with Nokian Extreme 294s. I tried the Mount & Ground 160s and was helpless and hopeless in snow with them, so I bought the Extremes.
They are helping, but I'm still having a tough time in the snow. About half of my commute is through the forest on steep hills, zigzagging between trees, sometimes on trails and sometimes not. A small portion of my commute is on a paved but unplowed access road. The rest is in town on dirt roads that are generally plowed (though not very well).
As long as I'm on level ground, which is rarely, I'm OK. On hills, my front tire often slides sideways. When I'm going uphill in snow, my back tire often just spins.
I'm a small guy -- 5'6" and 130 pounds (168 cm, 59 kg). Right now my Extremes are inflated to 25 PSI. Should I go lower? Am I simply not heavy enough to gain traction?
Or are there some special skills I need to learn before I can make this work?
I'm guessing successful winter riding involves a balance of the right gear and the right skills.
Thanks for your help.