Winter Biking

Don’t let winter keep you off the trails!

winter bike: On-One Fatty

Ride with YYCMTB this winter!

UPDATE: Next ride is tentatively set for March 22, depending on trail conditions.

YYCMTB is pleased to offer twice-weekly fat bike group rides on the West Bragg trail network beginning December 14. Note that there is no charge for the ride ($0.00!), although you will need to meet these mandatory requirements:

  • Wear a helmet
  • Have fun
  • Get some exercise
  • Sign the waiver
  • Smile a lot

This is your chance to flow down the trails over a blanket of snow! Each tour will take up to 2 hours, depending on conditions and how fast everyone is riding. We’ll make use of the designated fat bike trails as well as the usual singletrack trails. You’ll have the benefit of an experienced guide with first aid training along in case things go awry [not that they will, but better safe than sorry]. Your guide may also have treats…

Tours run Wednesdays and Fridays from 1:00 p.m. to around 3:00 p.m. starting December 14. The meeting place will be by the Trails Center in the middle of the West Bragg parking lot by the kiosk. Please try to be on time – if it’s cold, we’re less likely to hang around. If it’s necessary for us to cancel, an update will be posted on this page and also the YYCMTB Facebook page, so make sure you bookmark them both.

What to bring…

Clothes [always a good idea]

  • Dress in layers. I like a nice light merino base layer, and then an insulating layer [usually more wool] on top of that. It’s always good to have a windproof / water-resistant jacket as the top layer. The reason for layering is so that you can quickly adjust your clothes to match how warm/cold you are. Generally speaking, you want to take off that windproof layer for the climbs and put it back on when stopped or for extended descents.
  • Are you familiar with klister? You can likely wear the same gear for XC skiing as you do for winter biking. The amount of physical effort is similar.
  • Below the waist, I start out with my regular padded bike shorts, and add layers as needed. I don’t like riding in insulated snow pants, as they are very bulky and get sweaty fast.

Footwear

  • Your shoes should match your pedals. If you’re using clipless pedals [i.e. SPDs], then do what you need to do to keep your feet warm in your usual bike shoes. Lots of people are comfortable with shoe covers, while others [including myself] like dedicated winter bike shoes. If you’re using flat pedals, then wear the shoes or boots that will work best with those.
  • Socks should be wool or a warm synthetic. Coolmax or cotton socks don’t do a good job of insulating your feet, and can actually make them colder. If you usually get cold toes, consider using chemical heat packs to stay warmer.

Helmet

  • Most people are happy to wear their usual bike helmet with a headband, balaclava [ski mask], toque or whatnot under it to keep warm. On milder days, this works well with sunglasses or your usual eyewear.
  • Snowboard / ski helmets are another option, especially when it gets really cold. They work great with goggles, if you want to go that route. With full coverage over the ears and back of the head, they are definitely warmer than bike helmets.

Hands

  • Some people have warm hands, some people have finger-shaped icicles. Either way, mittens are always going to be warmest, as your fingers are kept together. Sadly, mittens suck when it comes to using shifters and brake levers. Gloves give you loads of dexterity, but aren’t as warm. Lobster mitts [a.k.a. Spock gloves] keep two or three of your fingers together so that you can operate levers more easily, and are between mitts and gloves for warmth.
  • Pogies can supplement or replace winter mitts/gloves, and are my favourite option for keeping my digits warm. They completely envelop the shifter and brake lever, with plenty of room to get your hands in there as well. They’re like sleeping bags for your hands, and super toasty. If nothing else keeps your hands warm, they’re worth a try.

Other Stuff

  • You’re going to need some water on your ride. Alberta’s climate is even drier in the winter than it is in the summer, and you can still work up a sweat while climbing. However you carry your beverages, make sure they don’t freeze. Insulated bottles work well when it’s really cold, but for temps closer to freezing, your usual hydration pack or water bottles should work fine.
  • The usual items you would take on a ride in the summer, like food, tools, pump, etc. are still necessary on winter rides. Stick them in pockets or in a pack, but make sure you bring them.