Showing posts with label biking in snow. Show all posts
Showing posts with label biking in snow. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Winter Weather Fitness Solutions Part 2

As we asserted in our previous winter weather fitness article you needn't give up on your favorite outdoor exercise activities if you are an avid bicyclist, hiker, or runner. In that previous article, we focused on applying winter survival skills to your favorite outdoor sport. This time, we introduce you to exciting new technologies in winter sporting equipment and gear to keep you comfortable and safe in the worst of winter's weather.


Danger, Will Robinson!


Just as there are inherent dangers with any outdoor activity, even the best of equipment technologies cannot guarantee your safety. And running, hiking, or biking outdoors in harsh weather adds inherent risk.  While the equipment introduced in this article can increase your comfort level and reduce your injury risks during outdoor winter activities, use caution and care out there.

Without a doubt, not having the right equipment for winter outdoor exercising is a significant risk. Consider for example a Seattle coworker of mine who tried to ride his bike to work daily year-round – a goal that came to a crashing halt, literally, when he tried to keep it up without special gear in spite of snow and freezing rain, resulting in a wipe-out and a broken wrist!


Biking in snow and ice? No sweat!


Have you ever wondered if there is any equivalent to snow tires or tire chains for bikes?  Apparently some manufacturers and cycling enthusiasts thought the same thing, and took action.


Introducing snow bikes, also known as “fat” bikes, which look similar to ordinary mountain bikes, except that they have very wide forks to make room for very wide tires – four-to-five inch-wide super-fat snow tires.  The combination of the extra width of the tires, their serious tire treads, and lower inflation standards – 6 to 16 psi tire pressure – means you can giddyup and go on two wheels in up to four or five inches of snow. Don't take my word for it – see video examples of such snow bikes on snowy trails here, or even watch the thrill of downhill bicycle races on snowy glaciers here

Of course, you'll be investing a chunk of change, and a good portion of your garage space, to have a set of snow bikes for every member of your family. Fortunately, there are cheaper solutions for the do-it-yourselfer.

Here is video of one do-it-yourself solution to winter bike tire traction; installing your own studs onto a regular mountain bike tire, making it possible to navigate snow and even ice with a regular mountain bike. The video shows you exactly how to create and install bike tire studs made from screws, and see a demonstration of the screw studded bike tires in action.


Traction gear for walking, hiking, and running on ice and snow


Thanks to three new categories of gear, it's possible to get much-needed traction even when there is snow or ice under your feet:
  • Strap-on shoe traction solutions
  • Traction-providing shoes/boot modification products
  • Modern-day snowshoes
Solution #1 – Upgrade your existing footwear for snow and ice traction
Goat Head Sole Spikes and Icespike are but two companies using a screw-on approach, allowing you to transform the ordinary soles of your shoes or boots into serious ice grippers.  Both  products are made of extra hardened steel and with a screw head uniquely designed for traction. In either case, you are attaching a specialized short screw directly into the sole of your shoe. 
Solution #2 – Strap extra traction onto your shoes
The author's shoes ready
for winter with YakTrax
If you are not comfortable with the idea of modifying your shoes or boots with screw-on solutions, there are still a number of other products to help you increase traction by strapping on a traction strip to your footwear.
Popular products in this category include Kahtoola Micro Spikes, YakTrax (shown here), and Stabilicers. Each provide different levels of traction, and all of them provide the convenience of being able to put them on when you need to traction and then take them off when you are done.
Solution #3 – Float above all that white stuff
Neither of the above solutions solve for deep snow situations. For that, it's time to look at the new version of an age-old solution – snowshoes.

Mind you, these are not your great-grandfather's snowshoes. Modern snowshoes are extremely lightweight, often very easy to get on or off, and are available for different types of outdoor activities.

For example, there are nearly a dozen different snowshoe models on the market designed specifically for running. A few of the more popular models include the Kahtoola RNR 22 Snowshoe, the Crescent Moon Gold Series 12,  or the Atlas Race Speed Snowshoe. Running snowshoes have become increasingly popular as the winter sport of snowshoe racing grows in popularity.


Safety gear


With shorter days, there's a good chance that you'll be doing your outdoor exercise in the dark. If you are doing a form of exercise that puts you near traffic, consider investing in wearable lighting and reflective gear. This is especially important when the darkness is compounded with fog, rain, or snow, which limits a driver's visibility even more.
Available safety solutions worth considering include:
Runner Scott Colantonio keeping
safe with reflective/light gear
  • Wearable headlamps, designed to provide bright light in whatever direction you are looking
  • Flashing lights, designed to clip on or strap on to the back of your clothing, making you more visible to traffic, cyclists, and other pedestrians
  • Reflective gear, designed to bounce the light from auto headlamps right back at approaching cars, making it much easier for drivers to see you in inclement weather or after dark
    The are even combo-solutions, like this light-flashing reflector vest, modeled by runner Scott Colantonio of Wisconsin, who won’t let the cold of winter or the dark of night keep him from his favorite form of exercise.


    More tips for winter exercising outdoors


    Bicycling.com offers a variety of useful tips on safe bike riding in through snow in winter. Also, check out this excellent guidance on how to run safely on ice using the right techniques, or get more great tips on winter biking from BicycleAnchorage .org.

    Ric Moxley
    Contributing Writer