I discovered today that the learning curve for winter riding can be somewhat steep. Also, despite the fact that you feel that you have a bike that can go anywhere, Mother Nature, feels otherwise. There is no such thing as a bike that will go anywhere, just like there is no such thing as an unsinkable ship. So, despite what you've heard or what you believe, there are conditions that do not suit a Pugsley very well, and I've come to believe that heavy wet snow with a lot of slush underneath fits into that category.
We received approximately nine inches of heavy wet snow (this has since been revised to 12") on Saturday, along with misty and rainy conditions that left the snow saturated with moisture and very heavy. Heavy enough to topple trees, flatten shrubs, and bring down power lines.
I spent a couple of hours yesterday enjoying the weather and riding my Pugsley up in the park. Riding is somewhat of a misstatement since I also did a lot of walking and pushing. So this morning found me anxious to get back out and ride. I swapped my 32 tooth chainring for my standard 30 tooth chainring. You see, I'm riding a single-speed set-up on my Pugsley and the 30 x 22 tooth set-up was highly recommended by others who ride single-speed Pugsleys. Since I'm a single speed rider at heart it seemed the way to go for a winter bike. Fewer issues and less maintenance is fine by me.
I felt the conditions today may be better since the snow had a chance to settle, but to my dismay I found my self struggling to keep the Pugs going in a straight line. While riding through the heavy slop I found it difficult to keep the front tire going in a straight line. The tires wanted to float, but once the bike started fish tailing all over the place, the front tire would simple slide out from underneath me and more often than not I found myself on the deck lying in a cold wet mixture of snow and slush.
There were stretches were I could actually ride quite easily and others where it took more effort, but I could still stay upright and make forward progress. However, there were other stretches where it seemed impossible to stay upright and move forward. Therefore, yesterday's and today's rides involved a good deal of walking and pushing. Something I was not accustomed to.
I've had the Pugs since last winter and most of my riding last year was in much colder conditions. I'm still experimenting with gear ratios, clothing, and other gear. I'm discovering that there can be a fine line between what works and what doesn't. That being said, I'm also finding it to be a fun and exciting process. That is of course, as long as you're not losing toes or fingers to frostbite.
The weather now is supposed to warm up and I'm quite sure that most of the snow we have received will eventually melt. My hope is that the next time we get nine inches of snow it is much colder and drier. In the meantime I'll continue on my way along this learning curve and eventually will get it figured out. However, just when you think you have it figured out something new comes along.
I have also enjoyed trying out some the new gear that I've purchased and will talk more on these items later. That's the joy of learning I guess. I'm happy to have winter here and I'm planning on making the best of it.
For now however, I'm still warming up after a cold and damp day on the bike and looking forward to the first trip up north where I know I will find colder temps and hopefully better riding conditions.