I rode this morning across some frozen trails. It was obviously freezing cold but for many a time to rejoice. Riding on frozen ground is awesome and, what’s more, when you get home bike and rider are as clean as they started.
Riding on the road in the winter is a cold affair and there is no fun to ice and sliding. Off road though you can have more fun and faster riding on frozen trails than you could ever have in the summer. So if you are a road rider and have a fear of ice, which I think includes nearly all of us, get off road when the temperatures is below zero. It is fun, not as cold as road riding and can be clean too.
There in one drawback to riding on frozen ground, the temperature can rise and the trails can melt. Now just as much as your first frozen ride will go down as your best ever, your first ride on melting trails will go down as your worst! It may even cost you a couple of hundred ponds too. Be warned, I will explain later.
Always check the weather forecast and plan your rides. If the temperatures are going to be below zero for long enough the ground will freeze. All that horrible mud will turn to concrete and have the same level of grip too. Get out your winter woollies, set the alarm and head off at dawn (its winter so dawn is not that early). You can now ride all those gnarly trails that are usually too difficult in the autumn because of your fear of slipping. The freeze offers incredible grip.
If you have a problem with the alarm pick, another sport. If you rise late the temperature is sure to rise too. If the trails melt your ride will turn into a mud fest. As the ground thaws the previously frozen layer of mud will peel off and will stick. As your wheel rolls around it will pick up more and more layers like a snowball. The thawed mud has the consistancy of wet concrete full of grit. Even riders claiming to have years of experience will often try to ride on and attempt to power through. The result is that usually something breaks. Often the rear derailleur is ripped off, chain trashed and occasionally the rear hanger rips off damaging the frame and wheel. Of course we welcome the extra income for the workshop but running a counselling service for distraught riders is stressful. Let this be a warning for you. If you know me and the shop you will have seen a post like this before. I have been posting them up one or more times every year since I have had the shop. You have been warned.