Guide

Mountain biking in snow and ice

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Riding in snow
Make the most of the conditions

Equipment

Sun and snow means smilesYou don't really need anything specific for riding in the snow, but if you can get hold of these, it can help:

  • Make sure you have enough clothing on. It's clearly cold, and hands, feet and faces are especially prone to frostbite.
     
  • Use two thin pairs of socks rather than one thick pair. 
     
  • Wear winter cycling boots, or overshoes to keep the wind off and (as much as possible) the snow out. Even walking boots and flat pedals work well. Whichever shoes you wear, grippy, knobbed soles are essential.
     
  • Use a thin skull cap hat or bandana under your helmet to keep your head and ears warm.
     
  • Ensure that you have sufficient spare clothing and waterproofs to keep you warm and keep the wind off. Windchill can be incredible at this time of year.
     
  • Most knobblies still work in snow, but if you are looking for something specific, for general riding use a thinner tyre with big pointy knobs, like a serious mud 1.8.
     
  • If you want a specific snow and ice tyre, you can buy studded tyres, or you can take a pair of old tyres and put a couple of hundred small self tappers in each, and line it with a thin piece of tough flexible plastic. These are great on ice, but very sketchy on tarmac, so beware where and how you ride them on the black stuff.
     
  • Between your party, you should also take some extra emergency equipment, like a plastic bivvy bag and/or group shelter if you have one, lights (don't forget it gets dark early!) and a hot drink (preferably in a flask rather than your water bottle).
  • Take some food with you. You'll need it to both deal with the additional energy demands of riding in snow, and to keep you warm.
     
  • Don't forget the snow shoes or cross country skis for when the going gets too deep as well!
     
  • Don't expect your bike to work like it does on a hot, dry day. Your chain, cassette and mechs will freeze up, so you may well end up leaving it in a single sprocket and using your chainrings to change gears.
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