Winter Cycling – In Utah

So, i enjoyed the Alpine Scenic Loop ride I did the other day, i decided to do it again. It is a very scenic ride, and a great workout pedaling uphill for 2000 ft in the snow. The last time i did it, it was a beautiful sunny day. This time it was cloudy and there was a storm on the horizon. I knew the storm would bury us in snow, so i wanted to get a good ride in before that. The temps were about the same so i dressed about the same as last time. A Merano wool very thin base layer on top, a long sleeve jersey and a jacket. On the bottom, i used full length cycling tights and that all. I stuffed a neck gator in my pocket for the decent and some of those chemical reaction warmer packets just in case. On my head, just a beanie cap. Helmets are pretty ridiculous when you are going about 5 miles an hour on the climb, and although on the decent you are doing maybe 15, you are all alone, no cars, on a very wide swath of pure powder, so any fall would likely feel like an old fashioned pillow fight.

I learned a few lessons on this winter cycling ride that i will share with you. I parked at the Sundance Ski resort. Parking here provides a few miles of climbing on regular paved road that is fully plowed. This is a nice warmup before hitting the tough stuff. It also adds about 800 ft of climbing to the ride, s thats a good thing. My goal was to ride to the summit trailhead at bout 8000 ft.

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I started out with no pack and a small water bottle. Just the stuff in my back pockets mentioned earlier and of my iPhone w earbuds tuned to Pandora on the House radio station. The initial climb on paved road was no big deal. I got to the gate where the road turns to pack powder and was really in a good rhythm. I noticed i was drinking more than usual. I think i may have started out slightly dehydrated. Anyway, as the ride progressed i got hot as usual, even though the temps were in the mid 20s. Opened the jacket and jersey and off came the cap. Halfway up the climb and I was already out of water. I pulled over and packed as much snow as i could get into my waterbottle and kept going. So, lesson number one. Snow doesn’t melt in your waterbottle when its 20 degrees outside, duh. I kept trying to get a drink, but got nothing out of it. Then i remembered the heat patches in my back pocket. I peeled open one of those and placed on the outside of the bottle on the backside, the leeward side. That worked. I was finally able to drink.

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I made it to the top and i could see the storm clouds of to the west. I quickly recovered for a few minutes. Zipped everything back up, put my neck gator on and cap and headed downhill in a hurry. I didn’t think the storm was that close, but from the top i could see i was fixing to get hammered by 60 mile and hour winds with blizzard snow conditions. Lesson number 2, if there is a chance of weather, wear a pack with additional clothing and supplies just in case. I got a new PR on the decent on Strava, not that i was trying to, but i felt like i was going to have to take a few chances on the way down if i was going to make it back to car before the storm hit.

Well i made it with about 5 minutes to spare. As i was driving away, i got slammed with howling winds and white out conditions with blowing snow. Glad I hauled ass!

Got any winter riding tips? Share them with us.

Oh also, the Niner pictured is going up for sale as we build up the new Air 9 Carbon RDO project bike that will be featured on this blog.

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