Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Snowy trail ride, and getting a road bike

Sunday, January 28th, 2007

I got a road bike yesterday, but I’ll talk about that in a minute. I want to cover today’s snowy ride first.

Dan, Collin, Dave and I had planned to ride at Brown County this morning. We knew today would be a good day to ride, because the forecast said it’d be in the lower 20s — we could ride without worrying about the trails thawing. However, when I woke up and checked the weather this morning, it was 12 degrees outside, with a windchill of -2. I called Dave to make sure we were still riding. I wanted to, but I wanted to make sure others were still going before I got all ready to go. He said he’d call the other guys and call me back. He called back a few minutes later to say that everyone was in! I started to get ready, putting on a zillion layers.

I got there a few minutes before everyone else, got my bike ready, and tried to keep warm. When the other guys got there, everyone got their stuff together pretty quickly, and we hit the trails.

This was the first time I’ve ridden in snow. There wasn’t a lot of it, a couple of inches at the most, but it was enough to change the ride considerably. The snow adds some resistance, although other people had ridden the trails before we did and packed it down somewhat, making things easier for us. The most difficult parts were some of the steep climbs, where our rear wheel had a tendency to lose traction and spin. Roots and rocks were particularly slick, as they seemed to have layers of ice on them. It was also more difficult to see the roots and rocks, since they were covered in snow.

All in all, the above factors meant that momentum became even more important than usual (just like it is when driving in snow). I tried a few times to give a sudden burst of power to get past something, but that resulted in a loss of traction. So, I had to keep moving as much as possible. Turns also became harder, as did braking, since any sudden change could make you start sliding. And, as most mountain bikers know, if your front wheel starts to slide, usually, you go down. So I tried to use my brakes less in general, and rely on my rear brake a little more than usual, and that seemed to work.

I really liked riding in the snow. It was cold, but I stayed surprisingly comfortable. And I enjoyed the crunch of the snow under our wheels, the scenery made even more beautiful by being blanketed in snow, and the snow that was falling and being blown by the wind. I could really see how whiteout conditions could be created, although neither the snow nor the wind was extreme enough for that to happen.

We only rode the North Tower Loop. I felt like I probably could have done more, although my left foot was absolutely freezing and the water in the tube on my Camelbak froze, so I wasn’t able to drink any water after that. Those were really the only two cold-related problems I had. Not bad for a ride in temperatures in the teens and sub-zero windchills.

Since my legs were cold last time, I got another layer to wear some “Pepperskins” — basically long underwear, only made of wicking material instead of cotton. These really helped keep my legs warm. So I had four layers on my lower half: biking shorts, Pepperskins, tights, jogging pants. On top, I had my long-sleeved biking jersey, fleece, and jogging jacket. I wore my balaclava on my head. I also wore some snowboarding gloves, which worked great, and a pair of Merino wool socks. I do need to find a way to keep my feet warmer.

After our ride, Dan took a photo of the group with his new Pentax K100D digital SLR camera. Hopefully, he’ll send that to me soon and I can post it. He’s just getting into photography; I should talk to him about that sometime, it’s a cool common interest that I didn’t know about until today.

Yesterday, Sarah and I went to the local bike shops, and I tried some road bikes. To make a long story short, I settled on a 2006 Giant OCR2 (that link is actually for the 2007 model, I couldn’t find a page on their site about the 2006 model). Since it was last year’s model, I got a great price on it, $620. That’s about $100 cheaper than some of the other bikes I looked at, and the OCR2 has better components all around than those had. It was a fantastic deal, but more importantly, the OCR2 just felt right. That, to me, is the most important factor when buying a bike. I did a short road ride yesterday once we got home, but I’m looking forward to doing some proper rides. I’ll take a photo of it soon.

I will have to take the bike into the shop in the near future. I asked them to change the stem, as the one on it wobbled a bit, but they had to order the part. I think I’ll have them install a bike computer at the same time.

4 Responses to “Snowy trail ride, and getting a road bike”

  1. Sarah Says:

    Heh. You have baklava on your face.

  2. Bud Buckley Says:

    I’m no fan of winter sports of any description which explains my migration to Florida. But what you describe sounds like an exhilarating challenge. Have you tried silk as a sock liner? Also a product called Holofiber should keep you warmer. Check that out. Good luck with the road bike. I couldn’t get a pic to come up so I’ll wait for your photos.

  3. furiousball Says:

    I like my bike computer a lot, I highly recommend them. Oh and btw, those pepperskins…those are tights too.

  4. Apertome Says:

    Yeah, I have a computer on my mountain bike. I definitely want one on the road bike, too. Max/average speeds, distances, and having an overall odometer are all very cool.

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