Mountain Biking for the Road Bike: Safe Riding in Snow

Before I came to Toronto from Cape Town, my daily bike ride on my beloved (stolen-in-Toronto) Cannondale M700 took me up to Tafelberg Road on the northern slope of Table Mountain, then down the zig-zag of loose sandy paths toward the city.

Anonymous rider at the top of my old trail

I never dreamed I’d be riding in the snow one day. Nor did I realize that the years of mountain biking would serve me well in the snow.

From driftlessbicycle.org

Here are a few simple snow-riding tips that come straight from the mountain bike

  1. Look ahead. Concentrate your attention on the middle distance. Brake before you need to
  2. When you’re in the snow, or crossing slippery ground, slow down using your rear brake
  3. Get into a low gear. Use the smallest front chain ring if the snow is thick
  4. Keep moving, not rolling, but pedaling (hence the low gear)
  5. If you start to slide, stay with the bike, keep your feet on the pedals, lower your centre of gravity
  6. Stay inside your comfort zone

The above doesn’t apply to ice. For ice there are only two rules

  1. Use ice tyres
  2. or else, stay off it

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