Looks like a lot of snow for Wintertide this year. It's about time! At the moment it looks like we're going to have about 6" to 12" of snow on Saturday, February 18.
First, it's always impossible to properly predict the weather a week from now. However, there are a few conditions we can be fairly certain of; therefore, here are our recommendations on how to approach the Wintertide Ride.
Second, a fat bike isn't a cure-all. If you don't have a fat bike, no worries -- join us on your mixed-terrain bike.
Given these two truths, following is what we recommend for bikes and route choosing.
Routes: Because of the recent -- and pending -- snow, we're providing six options:
- Three pavé route options of 45-miles, 60-miles, and 90-miles. Pavé means this route is about 90% to 99% pavement with the remaining being snowbound trails. The percentage will be determined by the true amount of snow on Friday.
- Three mixed-terrain route options of 45-miles, 60-miles, and 90-miles. Mixed-terrain means the route is about 50% trails and 50% pavement. Because of all the snow, the some trails will be pristine when you arrive at the trailhead -- meaning you're going to have a slog in a foot or more of snow. Some trails will be well trodden by bikers and hikers and therefore reasonably rideable. It's impossible to tell how many of the trails will be reasonable rideable for Saturday. We're erring on the side of caution.
- "Mixed-pavé" hybrid options: At the moment we're thinking that loading both the mixed-terrain and pavé route distance you want to do, and then switching between them as you ride, could be a great sweet spot for this coming Saturday. The pavé routes track the mixed-terrain routes fairly well. If you want to switch, in most places you're no more than a mile from one route to the other. This will allow you to ride challenging trails when you want and switch to cool pavé when you're tired or want to cover more ground faster.
- For the pavé version: A mixed-terrain bike with about 40c studded tires. A fat bike will work really well, too because we think that a lot of the side roads will still have a fair amount of snow on them.
- For the mixed-terrain routes: A fat bike with 4"+ tires. Studded tires will be the smart choice. Given how deep the snow is, at the moment it's about 15" deep, getting through that on a fat bike is going to be super challenging. Regardless of what some believe, a fat bike can't roll through all snow conditions.
Bike Requirements for These Conditions
- Studded tires: We're rolling out in subfreezing conditions so there's going to be ice all over the place. The day will warm up to about 40 or so but ice is the watchword for the day. Be ready for icy conditions; ride studs.
- Taillight: You have to ride with a blinking taillight or steady taillight throughout the entire ride.
- A well tuned bike that's ready for 90 miles of snow, ice, and wet. Brake pads in great conditions. Gears tuned properly. Tires in good shape.
- At the beginning of ride: 25 - 30 degrees. It's very likely to be below freezing so we expect icy conditions where the roads are plowed and the trails have been 'groomed' or ridden previously.
- High temperature for the day: Looks like it might get up to 40 degrees. It's supposed to be sunny so it will be a great day to ride! So, melting conditions and some wet areas.
- As the sun goes down: It's likely to get back down to freezing or below as you head back to the finish line. We expect to start seeing black ice.
It's snowing on Sunday and Monday. Then a bit of snow and rain on Wednesday. The rest of the week will be a bit above freezing during the day and below freezing at night. By the end of the snow on Monday we're likely to have about 14" of snow on the trails. We'll lose some of that from melt and because of the sleet on Wednesday.
We're expecting about 8" to 12" of dense snow. Many of the trails will be virgin snow, not groomed or packed by fat bike riders and hikers. It's going to be slow going on the trails.
We're riding as many back roads as possible so they're be fun, messy, and quiet. Of course, there will be some yellow line roads and a few town centers; we will see cars so be prepared.