Snow Biking Rules!

Nokian Extreme 294

When I realized there was a bunch of snow on the ground (and got off my lazy ass) I made a quick run into Cambridge and retrieved my bike. Upon returning home I ate dinner and then fitted my bike with the fancy new winter tires that I bought myself a few days ago. Incidentally, the studs are aluminum with silicon carbide tips and the rest of the tire is nice and high quality too. I have, of course, been wanting to go snow biking for months and months and months, so I had to go immediately (~7p).

Initially, I found the tires to be incredibly impressive, managing to hold on to a recently plowed road quite well (we're talking half an inch of packed snow with another inch of powder on top); I tried skidding out just for fun and managed to fishtail about a foot or two before I regained traction. From there I decided to bike into town via the old railbed path near my house. Approaching the entrance to the pathway I saw a large pile of plowed up snow and said to myself, "let's launch over it!" Sadly, this three foot tall snow pile was mostly soft powder, so instead of jumping off the top of it, my front tire plowed right into it and stopped dead. Now, anyone who has ever slammed on the front brake of their bike at high speeds will know what happened next: I went flying over my handle bars. Luckily there were a few inches of snow on the ground beyond the snow pile and I got a nice soft landing, making the whole experience awesome instead of painful. Oh man, it was totally sweet. So then I got up and set off for town.

Turns out the traction of studded tires isn't quite so good in four inches of powder; the powder provides a barrier between the tires and anything solid and doesn't have any cohesion of its own. Also, four inches of powder provides a ton of friction and impedance to motion. The end result was a very slow and involved trek to town that probably took about forty or fifty minutes (to the usual twentyish). I am quite certain that the traction was better than my onroad tires and expect that it was better than my standard offroad tires in the powder (because of the treading style, not the studs) but it still wasn't all that great and I was sliding a little on turns and spinning my tires a little on each peddle. Eventually, I made my way to Concord center.

At that point, I aimed myself at Emerson field and set about trying to do some fishtailing on a giant field of snow. Here, however, my tires outperformed expectations and held tight to the grass underneath the powder, thus defeating my fishtail-with-soft-ground-underneath-to-catch-my-fall plan. So defeated, I made some snow angels. Then I biked over the high school, hauled myself up the hill and biked down it, not much more interesting than without snow. I was getting kind of exhausted so I lay around for a bit. Then I got myself a hot chocolate and a honey bun at Cumberland Farms (because it was the only place open) and headed back home. I stopped a couple times on the way home to lay down in the snow and eventually got home (~10p).

Snow biking is so much fun. Hopefully there will be bigger plowed piles of snow and hopefully the snow will start to thicken to something that my tires can better adhere to than this powder. Also, I need to find people and go sledding.