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Neither snow nor wind nor rain, nor trees, etc.

January 19, 2005

If you haven't tried winter riding yet, here are a few words of warning: be prepared to double the time to do everything. Everything, from clothing to equipment, takes more time, more work. But if you like a challenge, winter riding can be a lot more fun, too!

Winter riding near Waweig, New Brunswick, will keep you climbing the trees.

First, keeping warm takes a lot of clothes. Getting dressed before and after the ride takes longer. You need about three layers of everything, and you have to be ready to put layers on and take them off during the ride as conditions or your efforts change. So be ready for a lot of stops along the way. Keep a spare, dry layer in your pack. Experience hint: Don't let your gloves get wet or cold or you'll never keep your hands warm later!

Second, you have to take your time on ice or you'll break something (perhaps a bone or two.) Even with studded tires, your tires will veer off into unknown directions without notice. And remember, frozen rocks and gravel won't slide along with you when you fall.

Third, be prepared to walk sometimes. Trail conditions are unpredictable. Snow can drift deep in some areas of a trail making riding impossible. And those other kind bikers and hikers who move downed limbs and trees are home in front of the fire sipping hot chocolate. And those limbs and trees are often frozen down for the winter. Biking is not your only workout on the trail!

Riding on Gibson Lake, at -10c and glass-smooth ice
Fourth, You have to explain to the curious how and why you do it. This takes time. They want to know where you find the studded tires, how you can stand the cold air, and so on. And like any biker, once you start explaining, you keep going, as if to convince yourself that you are doing the right thing.

Fifth, you need to do upkeep on your bike after almost every ride. If you travel any section of maintained road, you will probably pick up some road salt, which can be deadly on your bike. A good wash, rinse and lube is needed after any sloppy ride or exposure to salty roads.

Sixth and last, think ahead in case of problems. Have a plan in case you flat or break a part. Working on your bike, sweaty and bare-handed, can be dangerous, so know the signs of frostbite and hypothermia. Best not to ride alone or too far from help without a cell phone or a survival pack.

All that being said, riding in winter sure does make spring come faster!

contributed by:
Rick MacMillan
January 19, 2005

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