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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 10-01-09, 12:47 PM   #1
hshearer
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winter cycling for fun and fitness?

Instead of getting on a trainer over the winter once the roads are no good, I thought I'd add some (safe) miles to my commute home by creating some snow trails on some fields. Has anyone else ever done this? How do you make a nice trail in snow? Is it evil to ride on farming/athletic fields if the ground is frozen? Tips for making it fun? I'm a year-round commuter, rec roadie (trying to keep up my fitness for spring), and aspiring mountain biker (trying to learn/improve my skills). The snow could be here to stay in a month , but it doesn't snow frequently or heavily (too dry and cold), so any trails I make would at least stick around for a while.

More road miles isn't an option; they're pretty treacherous here in Saskatoon, since they don't get plowed, and so the cars dominate the residential double-ruts and I need to hop out frequently to let other traffic through (I'm not a big fan of playing 'chicken' with cars). Darkness and the likelihood of wheel diversions also makes any real speed (hence, effort) foolish.

Thanks for your suggestions!

Last edited by hshearer; 10-01-09 at 03:57 PM.
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Old 10-11-09, 09:27 PM   #2
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No clue but make sure someone knows your route in case you have a breakdown, etc. Ok?
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Old 10-11-09, 09:43 PM   #3
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I used to enjoy snowbiking. Go out to your local cross country ski area, they should have some packed multipurpose trails as well as the dedicated cross country ski trails. Use the multipurpose trails ... don't mess up the dedicated cross country ski trails.

Your next best bet is to get a friend (or yourself) to drive all over your field with a snowmobile to pack the snow nicely. Snowmobiles make great trails!
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Old 10-12-09, 01:45 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
don't mess up the dedicated cross country ski trails.
I've found that no matter how carefully I avoid the skiers and their precious grooves,
any skier I encounter while snowbiking acts as if I'm out there specifically to
sabotage their ski experience by vandalizing the snow. I've had friendly hello's
responded to with outright hostility and been sworn at. For multitrack users who are
out on the trails less than any other user group, they act the most possessive and rude
(in my area, anyway.) Even the restorationists, who pretty much hate mountain
bikers, are at least coldly polite when greeted in a friendly manner.

Not that I'm trying to discourage snowbiking, on the contrary, get out there and
ride your ass off, just be prepared for a potentially less-than-welcoming response
if you encounter any skiers.

To make a trail in a field(if you can't get hold of a snowmobile) you could try spending
a day dragging a heavily loaded sled around your intended route. It might work.
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Old 10-12-09, 01:52 AM   #5
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I'm one of those cross country skiers who hates it when someone comes along and messes up the track. If it is a multiuse track, and I've encountered a few of those, shrug shoulders ... I'm not expecting them to be pristine. But if it supposed to be a dedicated cross country ski track and it has been messed up ... not impressed.

I've also been a snow biker and I enjoy doing that ... I'm just aware of where to go, and where not to go.

There are some snow biking shots in this set:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/1430288...7602332361641/
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Old 10-12-09, 03:27 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by hshearer View Post
More road miles isn't an option...Darkness and the likelihood of wheel diversions also makes any real speed (hence, effort) foolish.
You're the best person to make that call in the conditions where you ride. But I have to point out that in winter, getting up to even sub-real speed can require a LOT of effort.

Snowmobiles make the best tracks in pristine snow, easily. Don't ride on a designated snowmobile route though, your plan B route options may be very limited should you meet one on the track. Regarding ski tracks, you would damage a traditional style diagonal track just by riding on it. Less so for a wide flat skating style ski track. But in either case it would be dangerous, as the skiers can't hear you, you can't hear them, there are often blind corners and speed differences can be quite substantial. Just two XC skiers colliding can be fatal.

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Old 10-12-09, 04:45 AM   #7
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There aren't any dedicated ski trails where I ride, it's all multi-use for hikers, bikers,
equestrians, and skiers. I make sure to slow way down to pass hikers, I stop for horses
until the rider says its o.k to go or pass, and I stay 2 -3feet away from all ski tracks(outside
the pole marks.) I've never had any problems with any other
user groups not wanting to share the trail.
Once a big group of hikers or horses get out and turn the trail into a
waffle-like surface the skiers abandon the trails and peace returns to the forest.
I actually wanted to try out cross country skiing,
I went as far as pricing some used equipment and looking up instructors and lessons,
but my encounters kind of turned me off to the whole idea. I find it interesting to
learn that someone bikes and cross-country skis.

About making a trail in snow: I once tried to establish a little loop in my backyard in 8-10"
deep snow by trudging around in a big circle a few times. It looked rideable, and it
sort of was, but keeping in the foot-wide packed-down area was pretty difficult
at the slower speeds, as soon as I hit the deep stuff at the edge it was all over.
Maybe a lawn roller type thing would work, but pushing or dragging one of those
things through snow would probably be hellishly strenuous.
I'm still racking my brain for an idea that doesn't involve a snowmobile, even though I do
ride in the street and the dark in winter it's just not as fun when you
have to watch out for traffic every second, a little yard-track would be nice.

I bought one of those k-traks, and on anything other than packed downhill it's useless.


machka-those photos weren't taken in australia, were they? If so, I'm amazed.
Somehow i visualize it as that vast barren wasteland shown in the Mad Max
movies(even with the woodlands shown in the first one)
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Old 10-12-09, 04:48 AM   #8
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machka-those photos weren't taken in australia, were they? If so, I'm amazed.
Somehow i visualize it as that vast barren wasteland shown in the Mad Max
movies(even with the woodlands shown in the first one)
No they weren't. They were taken in Winnipeg where I lived for 13 years.

However it does snow here in Australia too. There's a big ski community here in the Australian Alps.
Here are some non-barren wasteland photos of Australia, including some photos of snow (in the NE of Melbourne set and the Tasmanian Tour, Part II set): http://www.flickr.com/photos/1430288...7602419256784/

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Old 10-19-09, 10:39 AM   #9
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Thanks for all the interesting suggestions... If only I knew a snowmobiler! It sounds like breaking in a trail all by myself won't be happening. Cross-country skiing is probably just about the only other sport I think comes close to cycling for the combination of fun and fitness, although I know one guy who swears by speed-skating.

The weather turned foul in a hurry here, and we've already had our first bit of snow on the ground for almost 2 weeks now. I put my new Nokian studded tires on. Way too early! I've been on the trainer, it's not so bad (yet). Once winter really gets here, I'm hoping to discover some 'ice-biker' haunts on our riverside trails. I think that there will probably be enough joggers and dog-walkers that people in search of pristine ski-trails will go further afield.
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Old 10-19-09, 01:00 PM   #10
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You can also ride on creeks , ponds, etc. once the ice is thick enough.
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