A Cyclist’s Snow Day

Monday morning I awoke to find the perfect conditions for a day of snow biking! The night before I had swapped the tires on my Giant TCX to a pair of studded Schwalbe Winter Marathons, 700x40s, to give me adequate traction.  I kitted up in my winter riding gear and went out into the wind and snow.

Schwalbe Winter Marathons

I headed out of Boston via the Minuteman Bike Path, which had yet to be plowed, although a few other cyclists had already made tracks. I’m new to riding in the snow so I had to develop my technique on the fly. Pedaling through fluffy snow is a lot like riding through sand,  it is best to keep your weight down on the bike and NEVER STOP PEDALING! I kept my hands on the flats of the drop bars, you don’t want to grab the brakes unless you really have to. If you start to fishtail, braking and locking up the wheel is only going to send you to the ground. Rather than follow the tracks of other cyclists I found that my tires had the most traction when cutting my own path through the snow. Pushing the pedals in these conditions was a real workout, but it kept me warm! I never really felt cold despite the wind and 20 degree temperatures.

When I got up to Lexington I jumped over to the Battle Road Trail and then the real fun began!

Battle Road Trail, Lexington

I love riding this trail during all seasons but Monday’s ride was particularly fun because I had it all to myself.  I did slide out on one corner, but falling into the snow provides a nice cushion. It’s actually pretty fun!

Crash!

One issue that I ran into was that about 20 miles into the ride my water bottle was pretty much frozen!

I have heard a few solutions to the frozen bottle problem. Some have suggested putting a shot of whiskey in the water to keep it from freezing. But there is debate as to whether or not this actually works. I prefer to do most of my riding in the mornings, so a boozy bottle isn’t for me. Next time I think I’ll try keeping the bottle in my back jersey pocket so my body heat will keep it warm.

After the Battle Road I headed up to Concord and hopped onto the Reformatory Branch Trail.  No one had been out on this section yet and the scenery was picturesque.

first tracks on the Reformatory Branch Trail

This trail reconnects with the Minuteman in Bedford, which by this time had been mostly plowed. I headed back to Boston. All in all it was a great day out on the bike.

As far as my equipment goes, I couldn’t have been happier. I never had any trouble clipping in and out of my Crank Brothers Candy pedals, despite them being full of snow.

Crank Bros Candy Pedal

The drive train on my Giant TCX performed perfectly. Even though they were caked in snow and icy build up, the Shimano 105 derailleurs continued to function without issues. When I got home it was time for coffee and a chocolate waffle!

post-ride treats

If you want to go on a snow bike adventure of your own but lack the right equipment stop by the Harris Cyclery. We’ve got a great selection of cyclocross and mountain bikes, winter tires and all the gear you’ll need! Want more tips for snow biking and winter commuting? Head over to Sheldon Brown’s blog for more info. Do you have snow biking experiences of your own? We’d love to hear it! Share here in the comments section or on our Facebook page. Ride safe and stay warm out there!

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