Back at it in Wakefield early Sunday morning, Iain, Andy, Marcel, Chris-from-the-internet, and I rolled out on all manner of bicycles to put in some base miles on snow dusted dirt roads. With wet snow packed down, ice covered some of the stretches of our route, but all was well, even for Andy on his touring bike shod with Continental reptile tires. Chris and Marcel brought 29ers, while Iain and I represented the fat bike community.
|Chris' first ride in the area, LOVED it.|
With temps hovering around -5 today, and little sun, the roads remained frozen and unchanged over the 3.5 hours we rode. Traction was consistent, that is, consistently somewhat slippery, but easily manageable for all. The worst thing that happened was we had to sit on some climbs to avoid spinning. Oh, and Marcel's snow drift bail was, by Andy's report, pretty spectacular! Unfortunatly, like the dog-sled team we saw, I was unable to capture the moment in pixels for you all to enjoy.
|The Paughan Dam. We revered course here for the sake or Iain's marriage.|
Two data points don't constitute a sufficient sample, but I think its fair to submit that the dirt roads around Wakefield will generally be great for fenderless riding as long as the temp is below zero. Once it heats up, the little snow and ice will thaw, the roads will get wet while remaining hard-packed for a bit, then the frost will come out and they will be slow and soggy for a while. So as a rule of thumb, the roads should be excellent any time next winter not immediately following (or during) a significant snowfall or freezing rain. Any bike with 35mm tires and some tread should typically work well, though my personal preference looking ahead is likely to be my VTT drop bar mountain bike, with fast rolling mtb tires in the 2.2-2.4 range. The thinking is that you want to be able to control the bike when you hit frozen icy ruts here and there, and thereby stay upright, rather than bail for the sake of less rolling resistance and grip.
Next winter we'll try to rally the troops and throw an informal Raudax from Wakefield. Or two...!
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