Fri, 09 Feb 2024
Winter round here is mostly damp so not, for me, an enjoyable time to ride a bike on anything but the most groomed of trails. Everything not well surfaced and drained becomes a festival of mud and puddles, best avoided till the spring.
The exception are the brief cold snaps, of which there are two or three a winter, where the ground freezes solid and the skies are bright blue and you get a few days of dry trails and, if it’s not been wet in the run up, all the grip you could ever hope for. It’s delightful.
The great joy of frozen trails is that nothing on the trail moves. Everything is stuck to everything else so there’s no give, nothing to break traction, no change in friction. You can rail into a corner and trust in a way you can at no other time of year. And because they are solid they are fast. Height of summer fast only with no dust or loose stones to betray you.
There is the risk of ice which is where the weather preceding the snap comes in. If it’s been wet and you end up with frozen puddles then all the above is both true and then suddenly not. You have endless grip and then none. You do a lot of aiming for lines that are always dry, or sticking to the grass at the edge of the trail, or simply not riding. I mostly go with the latter because even if you can be sure the trails will be fine the getting to them is often not.
Very occasionally we get snow which is fine. Hard work, weird cornering dynamics but beautiful and good for a change. One day of it is usually enough thought because see hard work. Even a few centimetres is enough to turn a gentle climb into a slog.
We’ve had two grip days so far this winter, on both of which I took the mountain bike out for the first time in an age. They were only brief rides partly due to cold and partly due to popping out in my lunch hour, but they were the sort of rides that make you fall in love with a bike all over again.
posted at: 11:27 #