The joys of (dry) winter riding

Perfect trail conditions
Perfect trail conditions at last

Should it be a cause for me to celebrate that I have had my second mountain bike ride of the year (excluding the 2 shop rides)? Maybe it is worth celebrating that like the last ride the bike came back virtually as clean as it started. It was definitely worth getting excited about the conditions, dry and hard. You may think me a whoss but I’ve spent so many years riding in mud that, at least this year, I’d rather wait until it dries out and today was worth it. It was also way too cold to ride the road.

Forestry Operations
Forestry Operations

I went to Whiteways for a couple or reasons, one, the obvious: it is one of the best places to ride round here. And, two, I wanted to see what was happening  with the Forestry Operations. My forest singletrack ride began well as I entered the wood meeting Jimbo and two young riders out for some coaching. On my usual route most of the trails were clearly visible despite being covered with the debris of  felled trees. The worse thing was the tractor tracks. The problem was that the tree felling started when the ground was very wet and soft and the tractor must have been a Tonka giant judging by the size of the wheel trenches.

I'm not riding over that!
I’m not riding over that!

I feared the worse but it didn’t seem as bad as I had expected, still not good but where I rode I got through OK. I’ve been to woods where every track has disappeared. The Forestry Commision lets us roam at will all over their (that means our) forests but they do “manage” them to ensure that they remain healthy. The management can have a negative effect on pedestrian’s, equestrian’s and cyclist’s enjoyment of the trails. Given time there’ll a load more great trails just remember the time in a forest moves at a different pace the our busy lives. You could speed things up by picking up some of the branches covering the trails. There is a Facebook page dedicated to the trails and tree felling in Whiteways.

It was cold this morning, -2C, but I was warm and toasty, neither too hot nor too cold, for the entire ride thanks to: Gore AlpX zip-off soft shell jacket, two base layers, Thermolite tights, Northwave Celcius boots and the most amazing item some Pearl Izumi Elite soft shell gloves.

Pearl Izumi Elite Soft Shell glove

Pearl Izumi Elite Softshell glove
Pearl Izumi Elite Softshell glove

I’ve been using these gloves all winter and have never had cold or hot hands (other winter gloves over heat). My hands sweat so the palm gets wet but my hands never get cold. They really are quite remarkable. In fact they are so good that I’ll take them skiing next time that I go. If you get a pair be warned that the Pirmaloft lining that keeps you warm wet or dry feels very slippery until the first wash. This slippery feel means that your hands can ache trying to grip the bars too tightly.

Clean after 3 hours
Clean after 3 hours, got back just in time, note melt mud on tyres

Lastly, winter riding is slow. That is my excuse. I really caned it today and yet my ride looks really lame. I may have lost time in Whiteways walking over fallen trees but I still expected to be quicker. I’m blaming the cold, and I’ll blame the wind too despite perfect dry or frozen trails. Here is my route.

Don’t forget: NEVER ride on melting trails. You have been warned.

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