We look forward to a good snowfall, especially one that sets up overnight leaving a fresh, untouched blanket in the local woods. Having just released the Four-Season Sola 2×2, we were anxious to get it out into some “conditions,” and our New England weather obliged.
We opted for 27.5″ x 3″ tires and our Seven Adventure Bar. Snow riding calls for keeping your weight back and balanced over the wheels. This was a heavy snow and the temperature was high enough that what was on the ground had a high ice content. We didn’t let that bother us, snaking in and out of familiar trails made entirely new by sagging of branches and obscuring of rocks.
The bike was flawless, a perfect match for the pristine pre-dawn. Rides like this both exhaust you and recharge your batteries at the same time.
Our good friends, just up the road at the Ride Studio Cafe, have developed a tradition. When the first snow flies, they flock together and ride. In the cold weeks at the beginning of winter, their social media feed comes alive with messages parsing the forecast, weighing the likelihood of snow. The first flakes seldom fall in measurable inches. The season usually eases us in with a charming threadbare blanket.
Your forget what this is like, the downy, white floating down, your tires crunching over the white crust, everyone peering around at each other, smiling. The snow gets caught in your hair and sometimes in your eyelashes and on the tip of your nose. Traction, you find, is not too challenging. You go slowly, but not so slowly that a broad grin doesn’t affix itself and linger.
There is a real value in this tradition, we think. Winter can be chastening for cyclists. Many will hang their bike in the rafters and pull it down again in the spring. This seems a shame, though we understand that colder temperatures aren’t for everyone.
The bike is an ideal way to see the beauty that is all around us. The bike will take us places our feet might be more reluctant to go. We can cover more ground on two wheels.
And all the places we’ve ridden during the year are changed. The leaves are down and the winter birds flit from naked branch to naked branch. Browns hue into the picture, the tall grasses gone rusty as their roots burrow for warmth.
The best way to ride through a New England winter is to begin at the beginning, and then go on from there. The first snow, like a season starting over, just outside our doors.
With spring in the New England air, the time to gird our loins against snow and cold has (mostly) passed. Now we just have to concern ourselves with staying upright on the ice that comes from snow melting during the day and refreezing at night. We’re all still running our studded tires, so it shouldn’t be an issue. In fact, if there is one lesson from this record setting winter season, it’s that there is no weather that doesn’t offer the promise of fun on a bike. We challenged ourselves to ride through snow storms this year. We braved the cold. And we found, over and over, that riding bikes was still fun.
Next fall we will look back and know there is nothing to be afraid of when you have a bike suited to its purpose and a love for riding to keep you warm and willing.
It seems counterintuitive that when this much snow falls (our Boston home has received more than 5 feet of the white stuff in the last 2 1/2 weeks) a two-wheeled vehicle would be better than a four-wheeled one, but that’s exactly what we’re finding. Studded tires add traction on the ice layer beneath the snow, and with the right clothing and only a passing interest in speed, there’s still a lot of fun to be had on a bike right now.
As an added bonus, there are almost no cars on the road, which means the little space that’s left is more than ample for the cyclist willing to brave the elements.
Disc brakes are another great advantage. Our Evergreens start with disc brakes as their default, also clearance for the kinds of tires that split the difference between trail and road.
A little bit of hike-a-bike is necessary on occasion, but getting into the woods this time of year just intensifies the feeling of freedom you get from riding a bike, not to mention the snow limned trees are beautiful, worth the trip alone.
They say, optimists, that when life gives you lemons you ought to make lemonade. That summery advice doesn’t ring quite true right now, but we’re optimistic anyway, finding that there are shockingly few days when riding might not be a good idea.