Winter is settling in and making itself comfortable. It’s been awhile since you worked up a sweat, and the lure of another weekend spent binging baking shows on the couch is starting to wane. Why not mix it up and get out for a bike ride? Check out this introduction to snow biking from Olympus at Daybreak for some extra motivation and helpful tips to get you started.
Why Am I Doing This?
Riding on snow brings you all kinds of benefits – but first of all, it’s fun! Fat biking through the winter continues to gain popularity as more folks realize what a great alternative snow sport it can be. Your body is already familiar with the mechanics, so the learning curve is reasonable. Just a few rides in, you’ll be having a blast. You won’t be shelling out for expensive lift tickets, either.
On top of that, devoting yourself to learning a new sport can be a great motivator to keep you engaged and positive through a long winter, when the days are short. Hopping into a new activity can give you fresh perspective and energy.
Finally, snow biking will whip you into shape! Pushing through the snow at slower speeds gives you a leg-burning, sweat-dripping workout that will keep you fit throughout the winter, and it works as effective cross training for skiers, runners, and anyone who wants to go into spring ready for action.
What Do I Need to Get Started?
For one, you’ll need a fat bike. Riding on snow is safest with wide tires. Fatty tires give you a bigger contact patch, and therefore, significantly better traction. For riding in icy conditions, studded tires will help you dig in even further and keep you from sliding out. If you’re new to snow biking, you can always try renting before buying, to make sure it’s something you’ll do regularly, and to make sure you love your setup.
In snow biking, like in other winter sports, you won’t have fun if you’re not dressed for it. You’ll need clothes to stay warm and the right layers to crush those trails. On the bottom, go with thermal tights and soft-shell pants. On the top, layering is key, especially in lower temperatures. Choose an extra thermal layer instead of a heavy jacket that will weigh you down once you work up a sweat. Toe warmers in your boots will be a life saver, as will pogies (hand warmers that attach directly to the handle bars). Don’t forget some kind of neckwear and headwear, such as a riding beanie, to cover your ears.
Lastly, remember your water! Prepare for cold temperatures by storing it in an insulated bottle or a hydration bladder with an insulated hose that will keep it from freezing.
Where (& When) Do I Go?
Conditions are best for snow biking when temperatures are above zero (so you won’t be uncomfortably cold) and below freezing (when the snow conditions are best). Right after a snowstorm makes for a great time to ride if you’re looking at just a few inches, but not if it’s half a foot or more. You won’t love busting through that deep powder!
From South Jordan, you’ll have access to as many trails as you have time to explore, and as you get more comfortable, you’ll find trails suitable for any skill level. Round Valley in Park City draws avid fat bikers every winter, and the Salt Lake Valley itself offers plenty of options:
Tips? Hook Me Up!
A major difference between fat biking on snow and any other type of cycling is that you’ll be riding with lower tire pressure. Getting to the right pressure for you may take some fiddling, but a rule of thumb is to start around 5 PSI. If the tire pressure is too high, you’ll know when you go bouncing across the surface of the trail. When the tires are less pressurized, they will flatten out as you ride, widening the contact surface and giving you that much-needed traction.
Especially as you’re getting started, choose trails that aren’t too steep. Big hills will be a big bummer.
It’s natural to look down at the trail and scan for obstacles. Instead, do your best to keep your eyes ahead of you, and you’ll achieve better balance. Trust your bike, and trust the trail.
Lastly, don’t try to ride too fast. When riding over snow you’ll be moving slower than you’re used to, so choose to be okay with that. Be patient, enjoy the views, and have fun!
Looking for more ways to stay active in South Jordan this winter? Check out our blog, and keep moving!