Tag Archives: Riding in snow

Winter fat bike season is once again upon us as the leaves fall and temps become cooler. While riding a fat bike is much like riding a regular bike, there is a certain fat bike etiquette to keep in mind when you get out there on the trail this winter season for some fun.

Fat Bike Etiquette vs. Rules of the trail as the winter season progresses

by Jess Leong  

Winter fat bike season is once again upon us as the leaves fall and temps become cooler. While riding a fat bike is much like riding a regular bike, there is a certain fat bike etiquette to keep in mind when you get out there on the trail this winter season for some fun.

Everyone on the trail wants to have a good time and make memories in the bold north’s crisp clean air. Whether that’s biking, hiking snowboarding, skiing, riding a snowmobile, or snowshoeing, these are all valid activities. At the end of the day, for everyone to have a good time, you need to share the trail. These rules below not only keep everyone free from harm, but it also keeps it comfortable and fun for everyone.

Fat Bike Etiquette – Being Polite and Respecting All Users of the Trail

Yield to all other users of the trail when riding. This includes hikers and especially skiers since they do not have brakes to stop when traveling. Be constantly aware of your surroundings for who and what is around you. Everyone is trying to enjoy the outdoors. When on your Fatty:

  1. Ride on the firmest part of the track to prevent making a deep rut in the trail. These cuts more than a few inches are difficult, if not impossible, to repair.
  2. Stay as far right as possible on the trail. This is so that skiers, snowmobiles, etc. can pass on the left.
  3. Do not ride on the Nordic trails or classic trails. These trails are specifically groomed and tires that go across or over them ruin the trails and can cause problems for those people using them. Being respectful and sharing the trail is important for the enjoyment of everyone.
  4. Respect any closures or alternative days where bikers or skiers specifically have the trail. This is also important because if the trail is closed no one will be looking out for you if you fall. Plus, other trails might be closed or have maintenance going on. This can cause problems if you’re there.
  5. Wear reflective clothing and use lights or blinkers. This helps signal to others where you are from a distance. Skiers and snowmobiles travel quickly and seeing you as far away as possible can help them change their route so there is no collision or problems that will arise.
  6. Consider donating to the shared trails to help cover the cost of maintenance. It takes people to keep the trails well groomed and ready for people to ride, ski, or hike on them. A donation can go a long way to keeping that trail ready for when you want to use it again.

If you are riding in a group, do not ride side by side. This makes it hard for anyone passing by to get through or weave around. It also can block up the trail.

Rules of the Fat Bike Trail

Many general rules of the fat bike trail are the same as mountain biking or riding on regular trails. However, there is a major difference to keep in mind in addition to the general rules of the trail.

Understand ice travel and how to do it safely. Riding in the winter means riding on top of ice and snow. Throughout the winter there will be times where it’s warmer or colder out which can affect the ground beneath your tires. Know how to deal with this. Many people also ride on top of the frozen water. Riding across a frozen lake or river can be extremely dangerous if the ice were to crack. Learn how thick the ice needs to be to carry your weight, plus your bike when venturing across frozen waters.

Always bring items with you that can help in case you’re in a situation when the ice does break from under you. International Mountain Bicycling Association recommends that ice picks and a length of rope should be taken along if riding on lakes or rivers.

Practice fat bike etiquette, follow the the rules of the trail and have fun.

Practice fat bike etiquette, follow the rules of the trail and have fun.

Fat Bike Etiquette – General Rules of the Trail

The International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) developed the “Rules of the Trail” to promote responsible and courteous conduct on shared-use trails. Keep in mind that conventions for yielding and passing may vary in different locations, or with traffic conditions. This list is also on IMBA‘s website and on our Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide.

Before You Ride

  1. Plan Ahead: Know your equipment, your ability and the area in which you are riding and prepare accordingly. Strive to be self-sufficient: keep your equipment in good repair and carry necessary supplies for changes in weather or other conditions.
  2. Let People Know: Make sure there’s at least one other person who knows where you’re headed, when and where you left from, and when you’re hoping to get back. Any things can happen on the trail and if something ever happened, it’s important that someone knows where you might be.
  3. Ride Open Trails: Respect trail and road closures — ask a land manager for clarification if you are uncertain about the status of a trail. Do not trespass on private land. Obtain permits or other authorization as required. Be aware that bicycles are not permitted in areas protected as state or federal Wilderness. This mean, you guessed it, check ahead of time!

While Riding

  1. Leave No Trace: Be sensitive to the dirt beneath you. Wet and muddy trails are more vulnerable to damage than dry ones. When the trail is soft, consider other riding options. This also means staying on existing trails and not creating new ones. Don’t cut switchbacks. Be sure to pack out at least as much as you pack in.
  2. Control Your Bicycle: Inattention for even a moment could put yourself and others at risk. Obey all bicycle speed regulations and recommendations, and ride within your limits.
  3. Yield Appropriately: Do your utmost to let your fellow trail users know you’re coming — a friendly greeting or bell ring are good methods. Try to anticipate other trail users as you ride around corners. Bicyclists should yield to other non-motorized trail users unless the trail is clearly signed for bike-only travel. Bicyclists traveling downhill should yield to ones headed uphill unless the trail is clearly signed for one-way or downhill-only traffic. In general, strive to make each pass a safe and courteous one.
  4. Never Scare Animals: Animals are easily startled by an unannounced approach, a sudden movement or a loud noise. Give animals enough room and time to adjust to you. When passing horses, use special care and follow directions from the horseback riders (ask if uncertain). Running cattle and disturbing wildlife are serious offenses.
Riding a trail system before it snows is advisable when possible.

Riding a trail system before it snows is advisable when possible.

Don’t Forget!

Also, always wear a helmet and appropriate safety gear.

Search here for an IMBA Club to join and don’t forget to HaveFun!

 

Jess Leong is a freelance writer for HaveFunBiking.com.

Biking with gaiter’s may be an added bonus to keep you warm

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

Cold, snow, sleet and ice are normal conditions for my winter bike commute to work here in Minnesota. With the elements being so inhospitable  at times, I am excited to try any new product that offers warmth. With that concept in mind, I was excited to try the Hillsound Armadillo LT gaiter’s. For those of you who aren’t familiar with what a pair of gaiter’s does, they covers your shin and calf below the knee and above the ankle. It works in combination with your winter boots to extend a splash-proof protection up your leg. Basically, they are designed to keep snow, slush and debris off your legs and dripping down into your boot.

Hillsound Armadillo LT gaiter

Wearing the Hillsound Armadillo LT Gaiter for the first time.

A gaiter’s construction

The Armadillo LT gaiter’s upper is constructed out of Flexia, a three layer material designed to stretch, be waterproof, and conform to your leg and stay in place. The lower section is made out of a dense nylon that appears to be extremely tough. The zippers are waterproof and the straps and clips seem to be more than tough enough for their job. Even though these gaiters exude durability, they are remarkably lightweight.

Hillsound Armadillo LT gaiter

High quality buckles, zippers and straps are standard.

A gaiter’s fit

I have to admit that I have never tried riding with a gaiter before. Whereas my point of reference is small, I do spend a lot of time on my bike in the cold. For the frigid weather, my riding boot of choice is the 45NRTH Wölvhammer which is built with gaiters in mind. The Hillsound Armadillo LT gaiter paired with them easily. Thanks to the full-length zipper, I was able to get my riding gear and boots on, then fashion the gaiter into place with relative ease. That ease comes from the stretch that the upper material offers, as well as the easily adjustable lower Velcro strap and upper buckle strap.

Warmth on the bike

The addition of a waterproof layer was immediately apparent when I left my house. We had gotten a fresh coating of wet snow overnight and the salt trucks were out in force. Thanks to the slush created, my legs were immediately doused in slop but stayed dry and warm. This is a far cry from a week prior when I rode home without the benefit of gaiters. This time, I buzzed along through my normal route to work and noticed that my legs were noticeably warmer than usual. Also, when looking down at my legs (not something I recommend), I saw all the sludge my tires were kicking up bounce off the gaiters. By the time I reached the office, my legs were dry and comfortable, and the gaiter was still doing a good job repelling moisture.

Hillsound Armadillo LT gaiter

Snow and slush are no match for the Hillsound Armadillo LT Gaiter.

Moving forward

With my first foray into gaiters I want to see where they are best used. I know that hiker and snowshoeing fans love them for their warmth and protection, now after trying them I am fascinated to see how they will help a cycling perspective. As of right now, I will definitely be reaching for them whenever the weather is both cold and wet. While I am sold on their benefit for wet conditions, I am looking forward to their added against wind chill when things get really cold. Stay tuned for more information on my adventures with the Hillsound Armadillo LT gaiter.

Outside Bike Storage: Preserving its Condition While Battling Mother Nature

by Jess Leong, HaveFunBiking.com

 If you’re like the many people who ride bikes, you may have selected or been forced to use outside bike storage where your bicycle has to fend for itself in all the elements. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, especially since many people don’t have a place to store their bikes inside.

We mentioned in a previous article that if you’re unable to store a bike indoors, that you can usually find a nearby bike shop that can store your bike for you – especially through the winter. However, sometimes even this isn’t possible and outside bike storage is your only option. Perhaps there are no bike shops that offer that service nearby, or perhaps the cost in doing that would be out of your budget. Whatever the reason, here’s what you need to know to store your bike outside for a couple day or indefinable.

What Happens When You Use Outside Bike Storage for your Bicycle

As many can guess, bikes left outside in rain or snow can rust.

Newer bikes fare better in the outside elements because the seals on the bike’s components are tighter than on older or more worn bicycles. Being well-sealed allows it to block out moisture from making its way inside and corroding the bike from inside and out. Leaving these new bikes out for a few days or even a week might not be a problem. However, the longer it is left outdoors, the more problems the rider will see – this is especially true for older bikes. Older bikes can degrade faster since they have been weathered down over time.

What you can expect to see is rust forming on the chain and gears before affecting the rest of the bike. This can make the drivetrain brittle over time, and cause problems when shifting gears and riding.

We know rain and moisture can cause problems, but did you know humidity and heat can also be a problem? In the summer, keeping your bike in direct sunlight can cause problems in certain areas on your bike as well. The direct light can cause rubber and plastic to harden, leaving tires, seats, grips, and cable housing brittle.

Additionally, bikes that are left outside also run the risk of being vandalized or stolen. According to the National Bike Registry, over 1.5 million bikes are stolen every year with less than 3 percent being returned. Besides running the risk of corrosion, you run the risk of never seeing your bike again.

What You Can Do If Using Outside Bike Storage

Place a Bike Tent Over Your Bike

It’s not recommended to place a tarp directly on your bike because it can work like a green house, accumulating heat and moisture. Heat can affect your plastic or rubber parts and degrade them. When it’s cold or rainy, it can trap the water vapor. The moisture can then settle on your bicycle, corroding it.

A bike tent, however, allows a shelter from the elements, while also allowing air to circulate any moisture away. Bike tents aren’t expensive compared to some options and are generally easy to put together.

If your bike does get wet, wipe down the bike so the water doesn’t sit to long.

 Lube and Grease Your Bike – Especcially with Outside Bike Storage

Place waterproof grease over areas that might be breached by water, such as screw holes, bolt heads, or bearings. The grease will create a barrier against water, stopping it from getting through. Lubing up your chain and other appropriate parts of the bike is also a helpful way to create a barrier from any moisture. Using a wet lube rather than dry lube is key. Dry bike lubricant will wash away easily and doesn’t provide any protection from corrosion.

Use the Bike

This doesn’t mean you should ride the bike outside during a blizzard. Instead, lift it up and turn the pedals. Moving it around can help with reducing rust. Over time, dust, dirt, or grime can get into the shifter and fine mechanical parts, so using the bike can knock this stuff off – especially if you’re riding it.

Remember, the salt from the road can affect the bike! Salt affects aluminum or alloy parts. So, if you take it for a spin, make sure to wipe down your bike afterwards and clean it.

Replacing Components to Last

Many factors affect how quickly and badly a bike can corrode. While storing a bike indoors is the best option, sometimes it’s not possible. Following the above steps should help minimize the buildup of rust. It can also limit mechanical problems that may occur.

Trying to limit corroding factors is the best you can do. Some people who know they will store bike outside under a cover or in a bike tent will opt to spend extra money to ‘upgrade’ their bikes. The bikes they tend to buy are already considered ‘durable’. Then, they change out parts to other materials that are less likely to rust over time. Some bikers also will opt for a ‘rustproof’ labeled chain. If this isn’t possible, then frequent bike maintenance and greasing is the way to go. This ends up being the key factor that many bikers rely on if they are storing their wheels outdoors.

Be aware, if you store your bike outside, there will be more maintenance required than if you stored your bike indoors. Keeping up with this maintenance might seem a little daunting, but it is well worth the effort. Why? Because come spring, your bike will be ready to go and have minimal rust and problems.