The U is closed down for the holiday so I'm home Monday on break. Some break - I have 150 final exams to finish grading. Before sitting down at the desk with the green pen I set out this morning for Lake McKusick. The air temp was 11 degrees F, and I enjoyed bright Minnesota prairie sunshine. Karen got me some knee and shin pads and I strapped those on for the first time. They kept my legs warm, and I was confident they were protected from pedal bites and knee drops, even though this ride didn't test them.
The worst road, as aways was the one in front of my house. Uneven soft snow was hard to break through and the only two get-offs I had on this ride were 50 feet from my driveway - going out and coming back! After that the neighborhood roads were mostly packed snow with some bare pavement. I felt the key in those situations was to pick a good line of what looked like evenly packed snow, keep my butt under me and move the pedals. I really like the lugged tire in those circumstances. I had great traction.
The trail around the lake was a joke. Snow hadn't been removed recently and the snowmobiles were using it as their track. I stuck to the road which, as a frequently traveled route out of town, was bare pavement. Here the lugged tire was slow and noisy, and I was concerned about premature wear, but still it was important to have the traction particularly at intersections where there was packed and loose snow.
Around the half way point I moved to a well snow-blown sidewalk with about an inch of packed snow. Here I was really able to get the feel and challenge of riding in snow. It is a workout since the snow offers resistance to the tire, but the tire bites in and gives confidence. Three things seemed to help...pick a good line with an even surface, keep the body in good position over the wheel (not just balance, but position) so I could react to uneven and unexpected changes, and, as the title says, keep my dukes up.
From my earlier posts you may know that I think about hand position. This is the third time I've ridden in packed snow, and each time I've found that my favorite position for my hands is as if I am boxing with my fists clenched up around my chest...my dukes are up. From that position I felt that I could quickly and comfortably respond to balance issues. Maybe having the hands up higher than normal above my center of gravity gave the small weight shifts more impact and quicker. Whatever it is, I find that high and tight hand position great in snow, but not on dry pavement where I prefer hands lower near my hips. Try it and tell me what you think works for you.
I didn't have the camera today, but the picture I would have taken would have been when I was going past the "Your Speed Is..." sign coming back into town where I punched through the radar at a blistering 9mph. HA!