Snow Ride! Freezing!

That title fits this tune pretty well.

It only sorta fit my ride. The temps outside were indeed freezing, but I was mostly fine. Except for my feet. I really need some winter cycling boots (a half size big so I can fit thick wool socks in them). I wore some Gore-tex ski gloves with Smartwool liners, a Buff under my helmet, Smartwool lightweight base layer, my EMS Windstopper N2S jacket, and my hardshell gear (Marmot Precip jacket and Mountain Hardwear Epic rain pants). I was warm enough to be sweating underneath, but as long as I kept moving, I stayed warm.

First Snow Ride of Winter 2013/2014 7 Dec 2013

It was far from my fastest ride of the year. But that’s snow riding for you. I rode in my middle ring for awhile, but decided I’d rather just drop to my granny ring for the ride, and just run lower on my cassette, so I wouldn’t have to shift up front at all. I’ve had some shifting problems in winters past due to Shimano’s lube getting gummy. Last winter, I cleaned out my shifter pods and relubed them with Paul’s Tenacious Oil. The local shops suggested using Triflow, but I wanted something that would stay put and reduce the chances of being contaminated by moisture.

The Tenacious Oil did the trick. The only thing about this stuff is that it’s fairly viscous, and only becomes moreso in cold temps. Today’s ride was in the low 10’s (started around 11F and was around 18F by the time I got home), and there was more resistance to shifting. BUT, my shifters worked flawlessly. All my shifts were crisp, and I felt the shifters engage every time. Not bad for nearly 11 year old shifters.

First Snow Ride of Winter 2013/2014 7 Dec 2013

I was the first biker in the lot this morning. I wanted to meet up with a group, but none of them were there at the announced time. I picked a parking lot and geared up, seeing nobody erlse, so I set out on my own, not wanting to freeze while waiting for people who may or may not have chickened out. There were a handful of trail runners out already, and by the looks of the tracks in the snow, at least one hiker who I never saw.

On part of the Schoen Creek Trail, I got to put down the first tracks in the fresh snow (freshies!). A coyote had started walking on the bridge, but turned around before completing the crossing. Mine were the first human tracks of the morning.

First Snow Ride of Winter 2013/2014 7 Dec 2013

Overall, I had a good ride. The bridges were like ice, and they were the only place where studs would have been helpful. One bridge is on a 10% grade, and I just couldn’t get it under today’s conditions. Otherwise, I rode everything. I got through the two major rock gardens without issue. I was slipping a little on some of the roots, but nothing that forced me to go down. The Conti X-Kings provided ample traction for today’s ride. Many local riders go with a more aggressive tire starting in the fall so get more grip in the loose leaves and in the snow, but the X-Kings have been solid for me in leaves and snow so far. There wasn’t much snow on the trails today, admittedly. The ground was warm when the snow started falling, and melted most of the snow that landed on bare soil. I don’t think the trails actually froze until last night when the temps dropped. With more snow on the ground, I may want a more aggressive tire.

I DEFINITELY need winter boots, though. I covered my shoes with Gorilla Tape to close off the mesh vents, but it wasn’t good enough. These shoes only fit comfortably in the thinnest of socks, so I cannot wear warm wool socks in the winter without cutting off my circulation and making matters worse. I wore a pair of running socks with a little more cushion than I usually wear in these shoes and my feet were only warm for about 2 miles before they got numb. After my ride, I had to warm my toes under the car’s heater vents before putting my regular shoes on and packing up.

I did run into a friend at the trailhead when I finished. He was trying to figure out some annoying noises at the midway point of his own ride. We chatted while I warmed my frozen toes before he continued his ride.

One of the things I love most about wintertime is getting out for a snow ride early in the morning after a fresh snowfall. For me, that rivals peak fall colors and spring leaf-out as my favorite times to be in the woods.

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