Monday, December 03, 2007

Road Conditions

The Large Fella asked a great set of questions pertaining to riding in the "white stuff."

How are you finding the soft, gray snow that is on the roads around
here...does it grab at your front wheel, make you really tighten up your hands
on the bars, feel a tug/slip & pull on the wheel, and then loosen up? [...ED...] I have no MTB experience whatsoever but I wonder if this is similar to riding loose/fine dirt?

This was something excellent to think about on my bike ride home last night and on the way in this morning. It got me to thinking about how I was riding. The ride home was mostly clear if I wanted to "take the lane" but as headlights loomed behind me, I'd often head right into the unknown. Most of what I encountered was a lot of sloppy soupy slippery mush.

If so, does one just power on through it? I always feel like I should slow up, stand out of the saddle and go super slow...

When preparing to "head in" I would relax the grip on my bars, center my weight on the bike and try to make smooth movements. (t is much like riding off-road. I would prefer to be on an off-road bike, but I make due with a much more comfortable road bike.) Because I would do a poor job of explaining things, I would defer anyone looking for "snow riding" tips to visit your favorite site for off-road riding tips. My favorite site would happen to be for the Minnesota Off Road Cyclists.

In the riding tips section there is some good general advice on riding "relaxed."

It is a LOT like riding in loose sand. You can be headed along fine when the slightest shift in body "english" can send the bike swerving all over. I find that when the bike starts sliding all over the place, I naturally relax, loosen my grip on the bars and tend to follow the direction the bike "wants" to go... Follow where the front wheel wants to go and slowly, with subtle inputs try to get back to where you want to go.

I remember years ago going out riding in the snow, heading right for snowbanks as fast as I could and trying to crash. Flipping over the bars into the powdery stuff is great practice for going over the bars and learning "how to crash." Same holds true for general riding. Learning how to crash and actually practicing falling is a good thing.

So, relax and have fun... That's what riding is all about anyhow, right?


Me said...


Excellent and informative post today. Thank You.

Interesting that while I was awaiting your response to my questions from your entry yesterday, I rode last night, forced myself to try and relax more [by no means am I there yet, but it is improving much] and much of what I experienced mirrors/echos, perfectly, with what you ended up writing today. Very interesting indeed.

I knew something was afoul 2 mights ago when I returned from a ride and literally had trouble closing my hands into fists for nearly 3 hours, as they were so sore & stiff from how much I must have been over-gripping my handlebar.

Last night was much better: I would glide with, not against, the loose snow... and while I still had a few hairy moments [where I'd find myself slowing, getting ready to plant a foot-and even, once, turning me and the bike nearly sideways to the course I had been on]... it was overall a much better-and fun-ride.

Thanks Brother.


mnultraguy said...

Had lots of this today on the CLP, while riding home.

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