Unless you live in arid sunny climates and/or southern latitudes then winter is a real thing. Depending on where you live "winter" can mean different things ... from meters of snows to unrideable rain-saturated trails. Either way, riding can come to a screeching halt. While winters in the Pacific Northwest are generally wet and dark last winter was snowy which meant we weren't able to ride for months at our favorite local trails. So what do you do when the weather turns bad and the trails are unrideable?
There is nothing more disappointing then when you see the notification on social media from your local trail alliance saying "Stay off the trails. You'll do more damage if you ride." Your planned Saturday shred with your crew was just shut down. Of course you value your trails and don't want to see them destroyed so you either (a) find a more hardy winter trail, (b) swap out your long travel bike with something more at home on the road, or (c) get really creative and explore.
If you're lycra-adverse then you may forgo channeling your inner roadie. However, you may want to rethink that. Putting in lots of road miles is good to build up your endurance as well as stave off cabin fever wrought on during the short days of winter since you're still able to get outside and ride. For others there's cyclocross which is an invitation to get muddy and have fun in the process. Still for others, there's always the option of grabbing your big bike and exploring the city.
This is a great time of the year to work on your craft. Again, it could be building up your endurance by riding road bikes or it could be working of different skills in the city that will help your trail riding. What features in your neighborhood could you huck yourself off of? What about increasing the height of your bunny hops? Gap jumps? Cities are playgrounds full of features that you can use to your advantage to hone and improve your skillset out on the trail.
All it takes is creativity. Regardless of the weather this winter, the bottom line is to find ways to get outside and ride. When you are able to ride your local trails again you'll find yourself refreshed, stronger, and armed with better skills and tools.
Words by Sean Benesh. Photos by lonography. Rider: Loam Coffee Team Rider Thomas Shaw.