A ride report by the Professor
I managed to get out and ride twice last week. After being in Taiwan for a week, I was pretty jet-lagged out and way behind at work.Tuesday night Bullet and I went for a night ride up the Alpine Loop Road from Pine Hollow. Conditions were okay, though got mushier the higher we went. We have yet to ride a good groomed trail so my perceptions are based on riding trails that may have seen some snowmobile tracks but that’s about it. But so far, riding in the snow is pretty hard work, much more challenging that riding dirt trails.
Friday afternoon I rode up Hobble Creek Right Fork from Jolly’s Ranch where they stop plowing up to the Wardsworth Canyon trailhead. Again, just some snowmobile tracks to follow. Conditions were okay but pretty soft at times and again, pretty hard work. I was able to follow some other fat bike tracks for the first five miles. If I was careful to stay right on those tracks it was much smoother. If I varied at all the snow got pretty deep pretty fast, especially on the edge of the road. The snowmobile tracks were okay but unreliable. Sometimes smooth, and other times I was wallowing. I managed to get in 14 miles in about 3 hours. I hope conditions get better as the Winter progresses. I have a lot of training in the snow ahead of me. But despite the challenge, I am really enjoying my first winter riding in the snow.
I am also finding it challenging getting the right layers to stay warm but not too hot. I find that when I am climbing I stay quite warm and am able to ride with just a lightweight long sleeve wicking shirt with a lightweight softshell over that. If I have a long downhill it is nice to have a more windproof shell to throw on over that. The real challenge has been my hands. Again, I can use a midweight fleece glove for climbing and my hands are fine. Coming down Hobble Creek, which is not very steep, I put on a heavier pair of gloves and by the time I got back to the car, my hands were cold. Not freezing, but uncomfortably cold. I have a pair of lobster mitts coming for Christmas, but if they don’t work I may have to get some pogies. The problem with pogies (and this is only based on one ride in the 20’s with a borrowed pair) is that my hands were way too hot and sweaty in them. I think they would be great for long, cold descents, but for anything else they seem like overkill. Maybe the lighter weight Moosemitts or the neoprene ones would have a better comfort range. I tried a pair of the Dogwood Designs heavily insulted ones.
Wondering if using something like Heat Treat Hand Warmers or similar would work for you. I live at the beach in NC so we don’t get snow but it sure looks like a blast to ride in snow. I fat bike on the beach. Good luck!
The groomed trails at Round Valley are firm and fast right now. The singletrack there is getting packed in pretty well too. It’s a great combinations and the area is bike friendly.
The new 45NRTH Cobrafist poagies have air vents you can open and this keeps your hands from overheating or becoming too sweaty (I’m posting a review of them later this week).
We just got our first big snowstorm here in PA and I’ve been practicing riding in the snow too.. I agree, it is hard work!
I have similar issues with my hands. I wear the lobster mitts and they are great for climbs and flats but going downhill my hands still get really cold. A bunch of people who I ride with have the 45NRTH Cobrafists and they all rave about them. May want to check them out! 🙂