Snow Cycling Fun!

My Snow Bike Parked At Work

My Snow Bike Parked At Work

I remember it was only last year that I was learning to bicycle in the snow and attempting to gain some confidence with this unique cycling environment.  This year, I am proud to say that I have a much more positive view of this fun and challenging activity.  Note: please read my Learning To Bicycle In The Winter article for more information on how to commute by bicycle in the snow safely.

I woke up this morning to my radio alarm clock announcing school closures due to snow and I had an idea of what I was in for.  I stepped out onto my back porch into a 5 inches of snow and said “oh, heck.”  Apprehensive?  Yes.  Excited?  You bet!  I switched my panniers from my touring bike onto my mountain bike with studded tires.  This is about the third time this year I have performed this switch-over; Pocatello winters are very off-and-on.  After putting my lunch and thermos of coffee into my panniers, I rolled my bike out into the thick snow on the road.

I began pedaling cautiously to the first intersection, feeling my tires move a bit erratically over the mushy surface.  “Oh yeah baby”, I chuckled.  Next I pulled onto a main road to find that cycling along over the snow packed by the cars was very easy.  After making it across the next intersection without any mishaps, I found myself heading into a deep section of partially-trodden snow that resembled a large helping of cottage cheese and whipped topping (I don’t recommend this recipe).  My front wheel slipped sideways and forced me to over-correct while balancing on my samba-dancing bicycle and I had to come to a halt in the deep snow.  After a few attempts at getting moving again with my rear tire spinning in the deep mush, I proceeded down the residential street.

After that, it was just a matter of going slow, handling the soft spots in the road that crept up on me, and trying to stay in the “single tracks” made by cars.  I was surprised to find about 75% less traffic this morning due to all the school closures, so I really didn’t encounter much more than the occasional home owner snow blowing their driveway.  I didn’t have a lot of time to look around since I was focused on trying to make sense of the sea of white ridges, globs, and other snowy formations that lay before me.  It really is nice cycling on days like this for a few other reasons:

  1. It is so very, very quiet.  There’s very little traffic, and the traffic that is out is driving on a silent, padded surface.
  2. It’s warm and the wind was still.  Usually after a significant snow storm in Pocatello, the temperature is around 25 and flakes float gently around you.  It’s lovely!
  3. You get to say hi to people who greet you with a warm “whoa, man, you’re hardcore!”

I haven’t wiped out a single time with all the crazy commuting in the snow I’ve done this year.  It’s surprisingly easy keeping your balance as your tires have a mind of their own on the unpredictable snowy surfaces.  You just have to try to read the road and keep your balance.  Gee, I feel like taking the rest of the day off, getting into some warm cycling clothes, and doing it some more!  When you’re cycling to work in semi-formal attire, you are extra careful so as not to wipe out and mess your clothes up.  So I’d like to try it some more in some clothes I don’t mind splattering with muck!  Tempting, tempting….

By the way, my snow bicycle (shown above) is the Windsor Cliff 4300 that I write about in this article.

2 comments to Snow Cycling Fun!

  • Travis

    From my 5 winters of experience, I’ve learned the absolute best place to ride when the snow first hits is in the stuff at the side that hasn’t been touched by anyone or anything. You don’t have to over-correct, the traction is excellent, and you can generally go pretty fast (so long as there aren’t any cars/people/etc. around).

    Packed snow is fine too. The ruts/mush/mess cars leave are pretty iffy and will toss you around, so I avoid them unless it’s the best available option.

  • Yeah, there’s quite a few parked cars on the side of the road. I’m afraid of slipping, over-correcting, and then running into one of them. ;-)

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