Yesterday’s ride was one of those special ones. If you are a skier you might understand. The excitement began earlier in the week with the cold and predicted deep freeze. By Saturday I had put my plan in place and advised the crew. Meet at mine, 7 am. It was still dark.
On the day I woke with that tingle that I get in the mountains when you are going out at the crack of dawn to make first tracks. I’d set the bike up the night before and was ready for the fun to commence. Unlike skiing, the excitement on a freezing ride begins immediately. The extra grip is incredible and encourages daring lines even on the first climb.
The reason for my enthusiasm is the grip and consequent ease of riding on the frozen ground but added to that, when the sky is clear, the sheer beauty of the place is stunning. The sun rose as we arrived at Chantry Hill. It was a moment to behold.
Sights like this are transitory with every second being different and unique. In a flash one view is over and another begins. The changing nature of the vista is also true of the trails. We were aiming to be back before that rising sun melted the ground. I mean, who wants to have to clean their bike when they get home. On days like this, if you get it wrong and are caught out in the thaw, the bike cleaning takes on epic proportions. And that is if you make it back at all.
The perils of riding thawing trails.
If you do leave it too late and it thaws, you cannot ride. If you try you may well wreck your bike. The average cost for any bike failure is around £120 depending on the specification. Why? The melting mud wraps around your wheel in ever increasing layers until it overflows onto the drive train. Most riders think that all you have to do is “man-up” and power through. That is when things go wrong and your derailleur wraps itself around your cassette and rips off the hanger.
Thanks to global warming the need for me to issue this warning is getting later and later. In years past I have written advice like this as early as October. However, as the daffodils are beginning to rise, my winter riding advice has not been needed until February.
Below I have listed some previous words on this topic (I have been posting them the last 13 winters). I rave about the trail conditions, views and the perils of thawing mud.