Is mountain Biking in Snow actually worth it?
We’ve all seen the videos on Instagram of people mountain biking in snow, including the famous race, the mega avalanche, but is it really as much fun as it looks?
Having ridden a few times in snow I can certainly say it can be a lot of fun! It can also be devastating if you don’t get it right too. I wanted to take a moment to offer a few important considerations that you should definitely be taking into account if you’re planning on venturing out into the snowy trails.
Choose your Terrain Wisely
Be honest with yourself about your skill level. Riding in the snow brings with it a lot of additional dangers. What was the ground like before it snowed? Was it soft mud, or frozen hard ground? The frozen stuff could potentially make it treacherous, so your line choices will be key.
The obvious challenge with riding in the snow is that you can not see the trail. You have no idea what’s underneath the snow, if there’s a branch underneath where you weren’t expecting a branch, then you could be face down in an instant.
If you’re itching to get out there, start on an open and safe area first to see how the bike responds and learn how to counteract the skids, slips and slides.
Lower your Tire Pressures
Based on the fact that your bike his going to be squirming around like a slippery eel, you’re going to want to drop your tire pressures to get as much traction as you can. You’ll have to play with it a little to find the sweet spot based on your weight and what terrain your riding, but dropping the pressures about 5 psi from your normal might do the trick.
Brakes might be less Responsive
Brakes work best when they are warm. Before you go blasting down the trail, make sure you’ve tested them out to see how they’re operating. Not only will the ground cause you to slow down less quickly, your brakes might be doing the same. Start off slow and test out what it feels like to brake with each brake in a safe and open area first. Remember, be gradual, consistent and modulate your brakes. Slamming them on is not a good idea.
Developing your Skills
Riding in snow can be amazing for your skill development because it’s so slippery it will force you to improve your balance at a rate faster than any other type of riding. The bike twitches around like crazy in the snow and it pays to be extremely loose on your bike.
Try not to grip the handlebars too tightly, this will allow your entire body to relax a little more.
Loose hips, loose knees and loose shoulders will help you react more quickly when the bike wants to fire out sideways from underneath you. Be ready for anything, this is great practice for increasing your range of movement and working on your stability.
Tell someone Where you’re Going
Heading off into the woods by yourself without anyone knowing is a bad idea at any time, but in the snow where consequences are high, is even worse.
Have an idea of which trails you might be riding, if you change your riding spot, update your contact person immediately. Let them know roughly what time you might be returning and then if they don’t hear from you by a certain time, they know where to look for you. This could make all the difference in the outcome of your trip.
Take an Emergency Survival Blanket
It’s cold out there, a broken leg, out in the woods in a hard to access location, could lead to hyperthermia and death pretty quickly in the wrong kind of conditions. Those little silver blankets are very cheap and very small and easy to pack, making them a must for any adventure. Always carry one.
Ok I added a seventh consideration, but it’s less of a consideration and more of a consequence of riding in the snow. If you’ve checked off all the above 6 considerations then there’s no reason you shouldn’t be having a blast out there in the snow. It’ll make you a better rider and will give you one of the best experiences on a mountain bike.
Take a look at the last time I rode in the snow and decide for yourself if it looks like fun or not?