Touring in Snow

Touring in Snow

Postby DavidL » Mon May 05, 2014 2:23 pm

I am in the process of planing a trip at the start of September that will take in a leg from Omeo to Falls Creek in the Vic High Country. This will include a section of around 30km of winter closed road which climbs up the back of Falls Creek.

I am trying to make a decision on the sort of tyres that I should be equipping myself with for this. The rest of the 250km (ish) will be on the roads within the area so excluding ice forming tyres aren't too much of a concern as they will be cleared for vehicles, however that 30km has me stumped. I can get up to 2.5" tyres in the fame (29er) so could go something like a Chunky Chimp or 2.4" Mtn King's, or maybe some 2.1" spiked tyres? My partner in crime for this is intending to just use his 40mm Touring Plus tyres on his 26" MTB but I am not sure if that is an informed decision yet....

Anyone spent some time in the snow and could provide some insight?

- Dave.
User avatar
DavidL
 
Posts: 254
Joined: Mon Oct 11, 2010 8:12 am
Location: Ballarat, Vic

by BNA » Mon May 05, 2014 3:40 pm

BNA
 

Re: Touring in Snow

Postby find_bruce » Mon May 05, 2014 3:40 pm

My brother commuted all winter for 4 years in Calgary, Canada using a dual suspension mtb. From memory he didn't use studded tyres. The only times he had problems was when the weather was warmer & the snow would melt & re-freeze creating ice

Some good tips in this article

Be interesting to see if anyone has direct experience riding on snow in Australia as the snow conditions will be quite different from overseas - ie little to no traffic to compress the snow, warmer weather making the snow softer & wetter. Riding in September is also likely to give you warmer days and more snow melting, particularly on any sealed roads
Image
User avatar
find_bruce
 
Posts: 4085
Joined: Mon May 09, 2011 8:42 pm
Location: Sydney

Re: Touring in Snow

Postby PapaJohn » Mon May 05, 2014 4:44 pm

Limited experience here, but I work at the snow in the Winter. Took the Pugsley up last year to have a bit of a play.

This has bigger tyres than you are talking about. It was fine, EXCEPT that Australian snow is often wet and melting at that time of year. I found that it was easy to "spin out" when climbing on the Endomorph tyres. (end of climb - push now) It's just too slippery for them under those conditions. They were also a bit of a handful when descending. I would have been much happier with real knobbies. I doubt studded tyres would be helpful.

When it was colder, the tyres worked better. Those big tyres do actually have enough "float" to ride on snow. I'd not consider tyres as narrow as 2.

That will be an interesting trip. Keep us posted.
PapaJohn
 
Posts: 58
Joined: Sat Mar 22, 2014 6:22 pm
Location: Rural NSW

Re: Touring in Snow

Postby il padrone » Mon May 05, 2014 7:21 pm

I have regularly organised a winter day ride to Mt Donna Buang looking for the snow. Many years we get very little, but every so often we have a bumper dump. When the snow gets deep, more than about 10cms it is like riding through soft sand, and you will be very likely to loose traction, spinning tyres on climbs/acceleration and making descending very tricky.

This year the snow at Myrtle Gully defeated us. Spinning tyres meant it was a cold, wet, trudge.

Image


I'd recommend that you invest in good boots for walking. Make sure you don't go too wide in tyres - the snow will just jam up your frame tubes and brakes, enough to stop your tyre from moving. European and Canadian/US snow cycling is often a LOT colder and thus drier snow, even more like ice on roads. Fatbikes work well, and studded tyres for ice.
Riding bikes in traffic - what seems dangerous is usually safe; what seems safe is often more dangerous.
User avatar
il padrone
 
Posts: 19605
Joined: Mon Apr 07, 2008 11:57 pm
Location: Heading for home.

Re: Touring in Snow

Postby DavidL » Tue May 06, 2014 10:11 am

Thank you all, that is good information.

This trip specifically will be largely on road, so for those segments I can assume it will be soft and/or slushy snow if any, but then up at Falls Creek it would be older snow which could be anything from icy to slush.

So based on that what I am thinking then is a XC tyre that isn't going to be a dog to work with on the road climbs and descents but aggressive enough to grab the snow if it gets a little softer. Trying to float on the snow isn't really going to be an option as even with 29er wheels, 2.5" isn't going to be big enough to make a huge difference over options around the 2.2" which I have toured on in the past.

So with this I would be thinking a 2.2" Continental X-King, 2.25" Racing Ralph or maybe the 2.2" WTB Wolverine.

I already have some 2.2" Race Kings which I have been previously used for touring which might also be perfect for this trip if the weather is forecasted to be cold.

Am I somewhat on the mark here? Or should I be looking at under 2" tyres? Or a more aggressive Mud tyre?

- Dave.
User avatar
DavidL
 
Posts: 254
Joined: Mon Oct 11, 2010 8:12 am
Location: Ballarat, Vic

Re: Touring in Snow

Postby PapaJohn » Tue May 06, 2014 10:20 am

Find_Bruce touched on something very important in the warm Winters we have in Oz. Daily freeze / thaw can leave you with a big chore to get underway in the morning. It's pretty much an essential to clean the wet snow from the functional parts before retiring for the night. If it freezes overnight, one can have wheels that don't turn, brakes that don't work, shifters that don't shift etc. This is not a factor at all where the temperature is much colder and the snow is powdery and does not stick.
PapaJohn
 
Posts: 58
Joined: Sat Mar 22, 2014 6:22 pm
Location: Rural NSW

Re: Touring in Snow

Postby rangersac » Tue May 06, 2014 10:24 am

Commuted in snow in Western Scotland on a set of Maxxis Ignitors, around 2.1" width from memory. No problems provided you take it easy around corners, and there isn't any ice from a freeze/ thaw/ freeze situation. If you've got ice only studded tyres will save you.
De Rosa Macro | Trek 8000ZR | Claud Butler Sovereign
User avatar
rangersac
 
Posts: 987
Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 11:01 am
Location: Snug, Tasmania

Re: Touring in Snow

Postby il padrone » Tue May 06, 2014 12:05 pm

Clipless pedals are a lot of fun too (and not much use). I once camped at Mt Jagungal at Easter and a change blew in overnight dumping about 10-15cms of snow. Riding the MTB out along the rough jeep tracks we had to walk an awful lot, but the pedals just became blocks of ice. We wore our walking boots, but even had we tried clipping in it would have rapidly become impossible as all the snow built up around the pedals to become solid ice.
Riding bikes in traffic - what seems dangerous is usually safe; what seems safe is often more dangerous.
User avatar
il padrone
 
Posts: 19605
Joined: Mon Apr 07, 2008 11:57 pm
Location: Heading for home.

Re: Touring in Snow

Postby DavidL » Tue May 06, 2014 2:17 pm

Before we move to far on to the discussion of pedals, can I please get some feedback on the tyres?

2.1-2.2" XC MTB tyres are going to be a good all-rounder bet for Aussie snow?

As for pedals, I will be using the SPD Trail pedals but that is with the understanding of the issues that ice will play. But if I was going back-country flats would be the choice with proper boots for hiking (and maybe snow shoes). Ice can be a real PITA and I might actually look to convert the rear derailleur to full jacket. The Fargo is set up for hydro lines so brakes are already full jacket, but being mechanical there is a lot of small cavities and moving parts to freeze up. Would like to have it converted to hydro which will remove a lot of moving parts as it would be a little bit of a bugger to find out the brakes have frozen when you need them which is not such an issue with the drive train.

- Dave.
User avatar
DavidL
 
Posts: 254
Joined: Mon Oct 11, 2010 8:12 am
Location: Ballarat, Vic

Re: Touring in Snow

Postby find_bruce » Tue May 06, 2014 2:54 pm

What is the snow going to be like this year Dave ?

I used to go ski touring in the NSW Snowy mountains, but mainly ski downhill these days. Australian snow conditions are notoriously variable and the end of the season Is particularly so. You could have beautiful sunny days & almost all the snow melted off the road. You could also get wind, rain, sleet or snow. You are going to need to be prepared for any of that. Navigation can also get very tricky if the weather closes in. Does the road have a snow pole line ?

You say you are not going back country, but there is a reason the road is closed - cause it gets too much snow to keep open through the winter. In a good season, up on the high plains I would expect to find the road under a metre or more snow, even in September. My guess is that the most likely scenario is that as you climb, you will go from bare roads, up into the melt area, which will be heavy and slushy and up into areas still covered in snow which might be a metre deep with much deeper wind drifts like oversized speed humps going across the road.

I think you are on the right track with 2.1-2.2" tyres - you are trying to compromise between big enough to help get a bit of float over the snow but leaving enough clearance so the wheel doesn't get bogged down. XC can be a bit of a vague description, but I would be looking at tyres designed for loose surfaces, maybe even mud tyres.

I wouldn't worry about studs - without vehicles continually crushing the snow, you are unlikely to get much in the way of ice on the road, although I would be particularly careful of any bare patch of road in the shade with water running across it.

The 2 hardest bits patches you will come across are deep soft snow like wind drifts - you are going to be pushing up and through them, and deep semi melted snow. It is difficult to explain just how hard it is to walk through when you sink down to your knees with each step. Your choice of tyres is not going to help. Without decent waterproof boots your feet are going to get cold and wet which gets old very quickly.

You will also need to come up with strategies for each different condition you come up with. At first, riding in the afternoon will be easier as the snow is much softer & you will get traction from the road below. Once you get higher and the snow gets deeper, you might want to think about riding in the very early morning - pre dawn If you have good lights, so you are riding when the snow is hardest, then stopping by about lunchtime when its gets gluggy.

Great photo btw il padrone, you did well getting that far up into the snow. Am I correct in assuming that the altitude was less than 1,000m? - it just has that look of being slightly melted even as it falls - all the better to stick to everything.
Image
User avatar
find_bruce
 
Posts: 4085
Joined: Mon May 09, 2011 8:42 pm
Location: Sydney

Re: Touring in Snow

Postby DavidL » Tue May 06, 2014 3:46 pm

find_bruce,

Snow will be 3m with a long cold winter. (actually that might be a little deep for most of the lifts to still operate) But I get what you are saying and have done mountaineering in the past before kids stole all my spare time, so have a solid appreciation for the weather and the enjoyment of having to walk for hours though snow that you sink to your knees in.

But I think I have my plan now. Will get a set of 2.2" X-King/R-Ralph/Wolverine and if looks to be very cold, or we have a bad season and there is no snow then the Race-Kings might get another outing.

That pretty much has the bike covered, now footwear.

- Dave.
User avatar
DavidL
 
Posts: 254
Joined: Mon Oct 11, 2010 8:12 am
Location: Ballarat, Vic

Re: Touring in Snow

Postby find_bruce » Tue May 06, 2014 7:36 pm

Sounds like a good idea Dave. With a mountaineering background I am sure I don't have to convince you of the merits of warm dry feet.

Either way I am looking forward to hearing how you go.

Cheers

Bruce
Image
User avatar
find_bruce
 
Posts: 4085
Joined: Mon May 09, 2011 8:42 pm
Location: Sydney

Re: Touring in Snow

Postby il padrone » Tue May 06, 2014 8:58 pm

find_bruce wrote:Great photo btw il padrone, you did well getting that far up into the snow. Am I correct in assuming that the altitude was less than 1,000m? - it just has that look of being slightly melted even as it falls - all the better to stick to everything.

We were up at about 700m. The summit of Donna Buang is 1245m so we had a fair bit to go, about 10kms of climbing. The snow was pretty fresh - a good 50-80cms was on the road lower down as we descended, where only an hour earlier there had been bare tarmac. The slipping tyres was more the problem rather than any snow sticking too much.
Riding bikes in traffic - what seems dangerous is usually safe; what seems safe is often more dangerous.
User avatar
il padrone
 
Posts: 19605
Joined: Mon Apr 07, 2008 11:57 pm
Location: Heading for home.

Re: Touring in Snow

Postby shakes » Sat May 31, 2014 10:31 pm

I've done a couple of donna buang snow rides too - Conti Race King 29x2.2 were the tire on my bike at the time... Not too slow on the gravel on the way up, not too slippy on the icey slush either.

I had more trouble with body temps.. Especially wet gloves taking away any dexterity and ability to brake with any precision on the descent. Not good. despite taping all vent's in my shoes, using booties, thick merino socks and a plastic bag. My toes/feet also ached on the descent (no issues up till then)

Icey cleats was another problem (crank bros)
shakes
 
Posts: 23
Joined: Mon Feb 27, 2012 7:39 pm

Re: Touring in Snow

Postby DavidL » Sun Jun 15, 2014 9:53 am

Shakes,

Thank you for that. I am currently running those Race Kings on the Fargo at the moment, and was going to use them if there was very little snow. And I have been really happy with them for touring just finishing a 520km 4 day tour on them and they really are pretty good for a all round on/off road tyre.

What sort of snow cover did you experience on these rides? I am expecting slush at the worse on the road over Mt Hotham and through Dinner Plain which will be fine for any tyre I end up choosing. however the climb up to Falls Creek could be completely on snow. Did you experience thick snow, or was it light/slush that allowed the tyres to cut though to a solid base of gravel/road?

Other than the Race Kings being about at the end of their life now and needing replacement I have a selection of tyres depending on what last minute weather forecast throws up:
  • No/Light Snow & Clear Weather - Race Kings (AT) 2.2"
  • Light/Medium Snow & Overnight Snow Forecast - CrossMark (AT) 2.1"
  • Heavy Snow & Rain/Snow Forecast - Wolverine (AT) 2.2"

Gloves, I need to get some gore-tex ones and I have some mittens from mountaineering that I will used for the descents. Otherwise will just use a collection of wind-stopper/seal-skinz and others over the course of the trip to keep them dry and taylored to the conditions.

I need to get a couple more pairs of booties, and there are some extreme weather ones available. I am generally using SPD's but thinking I will pack in my hiking boots for when we hit snow and it becomes a issue of pushing/riding bikes.

Thank you for the input, the planning is coming along, though the Fargo needs a lot of love after the trip last weekend to be back to operational.

- Dave.
User avatar
DavidL
 
Posts: 254
Joined: Mon Oct 11, 2010 8:12 am
Location: Ballarat, Vic

Re: Touring in Snow

Postby PapaJohn » Sun Jun 22, 2014 12:02 pm

Long gaiters are a worthy inclusion. With skins and shorts, allows for heat disposal from the mid-leg. Keeps the lower legs and feet warmer. They can be strapped to keep from fouling on chains etc. Maybe that's my past bushwalking showing, but boots with gaiters is worth the pedalling compromise vs cycling shoes and booties in the rough stuff.

I like to carry a "roll pack" or tube shaped bag across my panniers with "change gear" of stuff I will want to access quickly during the day (alternative hand wear, the Zip off trouser bottoms, big wooly jumper etc. , but not usually alternative footwear unless it is the day when one will predictably transition between cycling shoes and boots.) My change bag is just an awning canvas bag. Keeps things acceptably dry and doesn't "steam" things in variable conditions. Plastic shopping bags are useful as "packets" for things which are wetter/drier within it.

Touring such conditions will make you very aware of your own metabolic heat vs heat loss budget. Everyone is different, as Il Padrone's pic illustrates. It's best to feel a little cold and work up to comfortably warm and have to keep working at it. You do not want to pull up in a lather at any point. Wet clothing has very poor insulating qualities. I might access my change bag half a dozen times or more a day, layering up for stops, or shedding clothing prior to setting off. To simply feel cold is not a risk, nor is a little (controllable) shivering, but uncontrollable shivering is. There is a fine line at some point. Everyone is different. In a group, this is accommodated by some dressing up or others more lightly. Incidentally, those who are at most risk of hypothermia are those who "don't feel the cold" as much as others. Keep an eye on your heroes. Tough rides, tours are best undertaken by very small groups of people who know each other well.

It's not a good idea to pull up for the night right at the top of an arduous climb all in a lather or at the bottom of a long, cold descent. You'll know why the first time you do it.

BTW has anyone snow touring ever considered carrying a small amount of glycol for the chain/shifters? (yeah, ordinary antifreeze) In marginal, freeze/thaw conditions, it can keep things moving admirably, where they might be freezing up and sticking.
PapaJohn
 
Posts: 58
Joined: Sat Mar 22, 2014 6:22 pm
Location: Rural NSW

Re: Touring in Snow

Postby WarrenH » Wed Jun 25, 2014 12:18 am

It was a tad coldish with intermittent snow flurries today. On Mount Ginini at 8.30am, this morning, it was -13°C. At Thredbo it was -26.6°C and that didn't include the wind chill. On Stromlo this morning, that felt about right ... totally freezing and then the wind blew. I stayed on Stromlo until it started to rain at about 10.30am ... then I scooted back to the car and turned the heater right up-to the max. The App Temp didn't lift today's temp above 0°C until well after 6pm this evening. Top up your marino bits. Just in case you encounter a similar day and you're not used to mountain weather.

A snowbow at Sugarloaf Hill from Stromlo today. The snow flurries were nice ... but the rain wasn't.

Image


There was snow on Mount Tennant too. One doesn't often see snow on Mount Tennant.

Image


Another shot of Sugarloaf Hill.

Image


Rain on Black Spring Mountain.

Image


It's shaping up to be a somewhat hard season.


Warren.
"But on steep descending...Larson TT have bad effect on the mind of a rider" - MadRider from Suji, Korea 2001.

"Paved roads ... another fine example of wasteful government spending." - a bumper sticker.
User avatar
WarrenH
 
Posts: 522
Joined: Fri May 28, 2010 3:58 am

Re: Touring in Snow

Postby Uncle Just » Wed Jun 25, 2014 9:04 am

Lovely shots as always Warren. When's the book coming out?

The temp you quoted at Thredbo had me googling as it seemed a tad low. I recall Charlotte Pass was the lowest recorded at -23C in June '94 so yesterday's temp would be a new record low for Oz?
Uncle Just
 
Posts: 492
Joined: Wed Feb 03, 2010 3:54 pm

Re: Touring in Snow

Postby il padrone » Wed Jun 25, 2014 7:40 pm

Looking at the BOM data for NSW observations, Thredbo Top Station had minimums overnght on the past two nights of -23.5C, so maybe slightly lower than the Charlotes Pass record low. Don't know where the -26C comes from.
Riding bikes in traffic - what seems dangerous is usually safe; what seems safe is often more dangerous.
User avatar
il padrone
 
Posts: 19605
Joined: Mon Apr 07, 2008 11:57 pm
Location: Heading for home.

Re: Touring in Snow

Postby WarrenH » Sat Jun 28, 2014 1:11 am

Uncle Just ... thank you Mate. It is a pleasure posting my images from my biking sorties here on BNA.

About that book? ... when I post my shots here, they're seen by like minds. What more, could anyone want?

About those low temperatures.

What I stated earlier for the temps on the 24th, I took off the web. One gets what one pays for you-know, from the web. But today, the apparent temps at Thredbo Top Station courtesy of the BOM, usurped even the coldest app. temps of the 24th. The wind gusts were hairy too. Very. When riding in the snow, there is the stuff under the wheels ... and the stuff that the rider is in. Aldi are having a sale of Merino bits on Saturday July 5th, just in case the kit is missing a few essential items.

Image

My most recent painting finished a few weeks ago. ... Cold Rain Johns Peak.

Image


Warren.
"But on steep descending...Larson TT have bad effect on the mind of a rider" - MadRider from Suji, Korea 2001.

"Paved roads ... another fine example of wasteful government spending." - a bumper sticker.
User avatar
WarrenH
 
Posts: 522
Joined: Fri May 28, 2010 3:58 am

Re: Touring in Snow

Postby il padrone » Sat Jun 28, 2014 1:43 pm

OK. Apparent temperature, taking in the windchill. Actual minimum temp was -4C.

The Charlottes Pass figure of 29th June 1994 (-23C) was an actual temperature measured inside the Stevenson screen ie. ignoring windchill.

I do recall that at the same time that this weather occurred at Charlottes Pass we had a max temp in Melbourne of about 5C, and I saw snow flurries outside the window at work in suburban Blackburn. It has been nowhere near that cold recently.
Riding bikes in traffic - what seems dangerous is usually safe; what seems safe is often more dangerous.
User avatar
il padrone
 
Posts: 19605
Joined: Mon Apr 07, 2008 11:57 pm
Location: Heading for home.


Return to Touring Bikes and Equipment

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users



Popular Bike Shops
Wiggle Wiggle UK
Ground Effect Ground Effect NZ
Ebay Ebay AU
Chain Reaction Cycles CRC UK

“Bicycles BNA Twitter
“Bicycles BNA Facebook
“Google+ BNA Google+
“Bicycles BNA Newsletter

> FREE BNA Stickers

cron