I’m the latter half. This might come as a surprise but I like winter riding better than summer riding for numerous reasons. The winter is the absence of many things that make mountain biking not fun: muddy/overgrown trails, crowds of numerous kinds of trail users, and extreme heat and humidity. I don’t love the cold, but I think it’s easier to arm yourself against the cold than the heat. The lack of daylight is an issue but night riding is way more accessible now than it was when I started riding. IMO, there’s nothing better than flying fast over a frozen, wide open trail with the cool air as a motivator to push you up the next climb. I guess you can say my enthusiasm for riding overrules my distaste for the cold.
@GregHeil: “What, if anything, keeps you off the mountain bike in the winter? Or do you just keep on trucking through the cold, dark months?”
I just follow the “RA rule”…ride anyway. It’s not that tough as I live in the south, but I rode all winter when I lived in Minneapolis years ago prior to fat and plus bikes. No such thing as bad weather, only poor clothing choices.
Winter is my favorite time to ride. I was a snow and sand biker on 26×2.25, I enjoyed the challenge in being able ride it. I used to like to tow my kid on a sled around town with single speed 29er, he’s 150lbs now (wonder if I still can). Now I have a fatbike that means I will just tackle nastier stuff faster. The only thing I don’t like is the dirty slush caused by the salt/sand mix they like to use here in Iowa. If you want to see almost new cars with through rust this is your state.
What keeps me riding through the winter? Nothing! 🙂 Not only am I lucky enough to be a mountain biker, I’m lucky enough to be one in the Republic of Texas where we can ride all year long. I just need to dress up warm enough (which isn’t all that much).
To help with the cold, I picked up these inexpensive coverings (cheap enough not to worry about tearing them up while riding).
With just light shorts (or boxers!) and t-shirt underneath, I have been comfortable down to the high 30’s. Coldest ride so far has been 37. And at that temp, I still broke a sweat. Not what I would consider water proof, but can handle light drizzle. Quality seems tough enough so far. We’ll see how they last throughout the winter.
The first few weeks after the time change is always hard for me. I can’t get motivated to ride when it’s completely dark by the time I get home from work. Eventually that wears off when the need to ride becomes too great.
Like Dr Sweets said, it’s all about having the right clothing. I used to have issues with my feet getting cold, but now that I’ve got a pair of dedicated winter boots, I can ride in temps down to about freezing comfortably. Gloves are the second most important thing for me. Once my hands or feet get cold, it’s pretty much game over for that ride. It takes a really long time for them to regain warmth.
I was always really afraid of winter biking, but couple years ago I found out how amazing it is! So, I decided to go biking with my friend the day before Christmas and guess what, I had a chance to see the most beautiful sunrise in my life. Of course, I’ve seen really nice views before, but they can never be compared to that one. If you love nature and have never been cycling in the winter mountains, you should definitely try this! Actually, I find this article very interesting and useful if you are looking for some answers about winter cycling http://bestadviser.net/reviews/features/top-10-reasons-to-be-fond-of-winter-cycling/.
The only thing that keeps me off the bike in winter is > 1″ of snow (since I do not currently own a fatbike). Aside from snow, winter is a great time of year to ride. Fewer riders + a lack of foliage = greater opportunity to ride at speed. There are also several trails I ride that can be very sandy in the summer but are excellent in winter. It’s always a challenge keeping toes and face warm when temps go below 20F and the windchill is in the single digits (or below zero). But it’s the challenge of braving it against not just the trail but the weather that feels so gratifying. Plus, it also helps to offset some of the inevitable overeating in winter and the effects of S.A.D. while allowing you to maintain your fitness until spring. As much as I long for springtime and warmer weather, it brings with it the only other thing that keeps me off (certain) trails, i.e. the spring thaw… otherwise known as the slopfest.
For me it’s really only the few occasions when we have snow (Tennesseean here) or excessive mud and rain. I’m pretty fortunate to be able to ride year round here, what with the mild winters. The local bike park (Windrock) even stays open all year!
Nothing keeps me from pounding gravel during the week and lighting up the trails on the weekend. Winter is the best time of the year to ride. Most ones you have the trail all to yourself. You work up a sweat and stay comfortable. You don’t have the bugs in your eyes and teeth. The sound of your rig on the trail sounds better because the air is crisper and quieter. I am highly allergic to poison ivy so no trails in the late spring till the first frost. Let’s go eat some dirt.