Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Snow Bike?

The forecast for this past weekend called for clear skies Friday and Monday, providing the perfect conditions for traveling to and from the Sierras. With snow predicted for Saturday and Sunday, it seemed like a great opportunity to finally put the Pug's tires in some fresh snow.

We anticipated a lot of traffic due to skiers and boarders who might be thinking the same. However, the roads were empty all the way to Incline. In fact, the town was empty all weekend.

Saturday came and went without a single flake of snowfall. Same with Sunday. I went for a ride on Sunday anyway and still had fun even though the snow was patchy at best.

I didn't see any snow until I had climbed quite a ways.

Up the trail was much of the same—sand, sand, sand.

The view to the south.

I ran my tire pressure lower than I ever have, and the performance on the sand was incredible. I climbed the entire length of Tunnel Creek without working that hard. The downside was the bike was a little bouncy on the descent. With clipless pedals it would have been fine, but I am still not comfortable with flat pedals. I really didn't feel secure going down hill.

I finished up with a few miles of singletrack in town. I always forget how much fun the bike is in "regular" conditions. I am learning to trust the tires and really push the bike hard in the corners. At times there seems to be no limit to the traction.

I rolled back to the condo satisfied with a fun ride, but a little bummed out that I would again go home without riding in the snow.


On Monday morning my son ran into our bedroom and announced, "It's snowing!" So much for weather forecasts. I looked out the window and sure enough, a couple inches had fallen and more was coming down. I checked our outdoor thermometer and it read 25 degrees. I had never attempted to ride in those conditions, but it was time to try.

I put on my snowboard pants, wool socks, a balaclava, a base layer, jacket, vest, bright orange windbreaker and gloves, and hoped it would be enough to keep me warm. I rolled out the door and finally felt fresh powder under my tires. It was awesome.

As I rolled down the road I hit the brakes a few times to find the traction limit, and there really wasn't any. The tires pack the snow as they go and the knobbies dig right in. I hit about 25 miles per hour on the first downhill and the bike was completely stable.

I made my way to a paved trail in town. When covered in snow, it's really no different than a dirt trail.


After that I rode on some "dirt" trails.  Except for being a little bumpier, it's all the same when covered in snow.

Dirt.  Any difference?

Since I have slipped on wet wood before, I crossed this bridge with care.

With the snowfall obscuring the mountains to the west, it appears I am on the ocean.

I then took a short jaunt along the lake. The sand was damp and slightly frozen, so it was easy going.
After about 90 minutes of riding I called it a day. I stayed warm except for the tips of my fingers. The Pearl Izumi gloves didn't cut it at 25 degrees.

Riding in the snow was a blast and had it not been for frozen fingers, I could have done it for hours. Can't wait to do it again.