Top tips to have fun in the snow (and stay upright)
For many parts of the UK, today will see the first snow of the winter, something which will no doubt bring the transport network to a stand still.
What’s more, the south east will experience the rare phenomenon of thundersnow, where snow instead of rain falls during a thunderstorm.
Usually when the roads are blocked and the trains aren’t running, the best thing to do is to jump on your bike, but if it’s snowing then you’ll need to think twice and adapt your riding.
The first thing to say is that if it’s icy, it’s probably best staying at home. You can get away with riding over short patches of ice if you don’t use your brakes too much, don’t attempt to turn, and don’t make only sudden movements, but if you want to be 100 per cent sure of keeping all of your skin then it’s better to stay off the bike.
The good news is that with thundersnow, there shouldn’t be enough time for the ice to form before snow starts to settle, meaning that it could be safe to get out on your bike, and you could even have really good fun.
If you’ve got the luxury, then ride either your cyclocross bike or your mountain bike, as the extra grip given by the tyres will really come in handy when cornering. If that’s not an option, then take some air out of your slick tyres to increase the contact patch and give better grip.
Watch: Buyer’s guide to winter clothing
As for your riding style, it’s important that whatever your bike is doing beneath you, that you stay relaxed. Tensing up, gripping the bars, and putting all your weight on the front end will make the bike very hard to control if it starts to move around.
Instead relax your arms, and put more weight over the back wheel. Not only will this help to maintain traction at the back wheel, but will also allow you to let the front end follow its own line, with the back end following, even if this means that it slides around a little.
Braking should also be done a little differently than in other conditions. The front brake isn’t your friend when riding on snow as using it will cause the front tyre to lose traction, which will usually end up with you on the floor.
Instead use the rear brake to scrub off speed, and don’t be afraid to put your foot down if the back end starts to step out.
Your pedalling style also needs to be adjusted, and this is actually a great time to practise your pedalling technique. Having the same amount of force going through the pedals at all points in the middle stroke will mean that the rear wheel maintains better traction with the ground, thus keeping you moving forward and staying upright.
This will also help to keep the back end in line if it starts to slide in either direction.