I've found myself biking in snow the last few weekends. It's quite an experience, and unlike most other terrain it's very variable.
- Depth - the deeper the snow, the more you sink in
- Temperature - a big difference between over and under freezing. When it's under freezing the snow can be powdery and acts a lot like sand. Above freezing, it gets stickier and gives a bit more traction
- Pack - if other people have packed down the snow, it generally gives a better surface than if you're the first
- Ice - short of studded tires, not much you can do about ice, other than fall on your ass
My Ride Today
Today I started on a road which had been driven on, so it was packed down pretty nicely. No problem! My cyclocross tires found plenty of traction.
A little further north on the same road, the snow got deeper. This made the traction worse, the bike got squirley and was tough to find traction at times.
Then I hit the trails, where nobody had gone before. It was nearly impassible... I had to walk up hills, and nearly soiled my underwear down them. Very much like biking in deep sand, which might have been OK on my mountain bike, but on the cross bike it was very dicey. (Although I did see a couple of mountain bikers that were abandoning the trails for the road!)
Cross-Country Skiers Don't Love Tire Tracks
They were cordial enough, as they are a fairly Zen crowd... but they really don't like when we take their nice tracks and plow through them with our tires.
These are multi-use trails, so we're all allowed out there. I guess they have to lump it. I tried to not cross their tracks as much as I could, but I was on the edge of control most of the ride so it was unavoidable... sorry!