Riding in the Snow – 5 Ways to Make it Work for You

December 17, 2015
BikeParts.com Rider Enjoying Winter Cycling
The snow is here! And lots of it!  Many cyclist wonder, can I ride in the snow?  And the answer: of course you can!
The important thing to remember about riding in the snow isn’t whether it’s possible—everything is possible.  It’s simply a matter of being smart about riding in uncertain weather conditions. Here’s how to make snow riding work for you.
  1. The more tread on your tires, the better. You can ride in snow on slicks, but we wouldn’t recommend it.  At Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop, we have a large selection of tires for road bikes, mountain bikes, and cyclocross bikes.  Stop in and pick up a new set of tires just for your winter cycling adventures.  Speaking of tires, let some air out of your them, whatever sort they are. Ride them soft: you’ll get more grip.
  1. Focus on a relaxed and responsive riding position.  Sure, it’s natural to tense up with icy or snowy conditions, but if you focus on relaxing your hands and arms, while keeping your weight back on the bike, you may find it easier to steer the bike from your hips and less from your upper body. This makes directional changes smoother and easier with your whole mass on the bike, rather than by sudden sharp steering inputs at the handlebars.
  1. Don’t be a speed demon! Slow down and enjoy the views! Celebrate the adventure of riding in different weather conditions.  A good rule of thumb to remember is to keep your bike in good working order, maintain care of your bike parts and don’t be too ambitious about your speed.  All this allows you to truly enjoy the experience.
  1. Go fat! Fat bike that is!  Fat bikes are wonderful for riding in the snow.  Many fat bike models today are similar to “normal” mountain bikes, which have slacker head tube angles, lower stand-over heights, thru axles, and tapered head tubes. The main difference is the tires. The wider tires have more traction in both dirt and snow. They climb better than almost any mountain bike. If you’re new to fat bikes, you may enjoy reading about some Top Fat Bike FAQ’s or Why Go Fat. Or, stop by the shop and demo a fat bike!
  1. Dress for the occasion.  Because it’s cold out, it is tempting to overdress.  Avoid that temptation! Depending on the type of ride, the duration of your ride, and the elements, your cycling apparel options make the difference between a suffer fest or a great ride. Take an inventory of your cycling clothing and ask yourself, what clothing do you need to wear in different weather conditions?  Do you have waterproof and wind resistant clothing? Do you have enough of the basic cycling necessities, as in leggings? Arm warmers? Knee warmers? Scull cap? What about your base layers?  Do you have enough of them or do you need to add in some fleece lined clothing?  Lucky for you, at Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop, we can help you with all of your cycling apparel needs! In fact, we’ve got quite a lot of new cycling clothing in store right now!  Or, check out our How to Dress for Winter Cycling –Video for ideas dressing warmly for your winter rides.
Your experience will correlate directly to your level of preparation.  It’s true, winter riding requires more diligence and commitment; but the flip side is a sense of wonder and adventure that accompanies the wintertime cycling scene.
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How to Make the Time Change and Night Riding Work for You

October 30, 2014

When the clocks change and the night draws in, cyclists have a decision to make: get in the groove with night riding and embrace the darkness.  Or, hang up the wheels and miss out on hours of glorious saddle time.

Sometimes it’s a depressing thought with the time change and the nights closing in.  However, night riding can also be relished as one of the most rewarding experiences you can have on a bike, and especially when riding with a group.  Riding in the dark heightens your senses, improves your skills and builds awareness.   Switching up the training regime can freshen your attitude, spark some fun, and maintain fitness.

The trick to capturing the benefits is to make the time change and night riding work for you.  Develop strategies that support your cycling while embracing the darkness.  Here’s how!

A Well Lit Bike
Visibility is critical.  Outfit your bike with a good light system.  You will want lights for the front of your bike.  Consider having multiple lights for the front of your bike.  One on your helmet so you can shine side roads and traffic and have a second light on your handlebars so you can see at least 10 ft. or more in front of you.  For the rear of your bike, opt for a rear red light- particularly one that blinks. A blinking red light is much more likely to get the attention of a passing motorist who might otherwise not notice you.

For those who need a really bright headlight check out the NiteRider Pro 1800 Race on the BikeParts.com website. Designed for mountain bike racing,  and with 1200 lumens you can expect to get about 1 hour and 30 minutes of run time. At 700 lumens you should get 3 hours, 400 lumens yields 4 hours, 200 lumens 12 hours, and 80 lumens 25 hours. It takes about five hours to fully charge the four cell Lithium Ion battery.

A Well Lit Cyclist
Purchase cycling apparel that is visible.  There are options to choose from including vests and ankle bands.  Also, reflective tape is a good idea. 3M makes black reflective tape that is great to put on black wheels. You do not notice it during the day and it shows up white at night.  And, as the temperature drops, it’s hard to know what to wear when it’s 50 degrees and sunny outside versus 30 – 35 degrees and cloudy.  Riding in transitional weather can be a challenge!  But, with clothing that is versatile, lightweight, and easy to pack down, you can find a cycling wardrobe that works for you. Watch our video, How to Dress for Winter Cycling to get ideas.

Ride options:
Riding in the dark makes the riding of any technical section immediately harder than in the day.  It takes a good while to overcome this, so don’t set yourself a task to ride the most demanding trails you have.  Ease yourself in as the nights start earlier and downgrade your expectations.   Remember, you will inevitably ride and travel more slowly than in daylight.  With that being said, be mindful that your route doesn’t exceed your lights battery capacities.

Bike maintenance:
Experiencing mechanical difficulties in the cold and at night is not fun!  A well maintained bike is a fun bike to ride.  Yet, for some, bike maintenance can be a chore.  Having the right set of bike components and tools can make all the difference.  When prepping your bike for for the colder temps and night riding, there are several things you want to do to keep your bike in good working order.  A good thing to always do is to wipe down and inspect the frame.  As the weather changes, rain, snow, ice, and road elements pose different cleaning challenges to your frame and bicycle parts.  Consider using a stiff, soft-bristled brush to knock off any chunks of dried-on mud that may be on your frame or wheels. Then, follow that up by taking a rag to your bike, wiping it down generally all over to get off any remaining dust or dirt.

Also, remember to lube your chain and cables.  As unglamorous as chain lube is, it is a necessity for winter riding.  It will keep your bike parts in working order and squeak free! There are many lubes to choose – wet vs dry lube.  As conditions vary, you may want to have a couple of different choices on hand.  Finally, since you can’t see what you are rolling over in the dark, it’s a good idea to frequently inspect tires, wheels, and brake pads.  Check that there is adequate air pressure in the tires. Check that there aren’t any cuts or nicks in the sidewall or tread of the tires. You’ll want to make sure the brake pads are not worn. And, remember to inspect where the brake pads hit the rim; they should contact the rim evenly on both sides and not rub the tire in any way that may cause a flat.

Here’s where the rubber hits the road: the time change can mark the end of the season or bring on a new adventure.  Embrace the challenge and make night riding work for you!