Riding over snow-covered logs: a dual traction problem

Here’s a 30-second video clip of me riding over a couple of snow-covered logs here in Northfield, one in the woods at St. Olaf College, the other on Mai Fete Island at Carleton College.

The challenge of riding over logs in winter is the dual traction problem:

  1. If I use a pedal wheelie to try to get my front wheel up onto the log, there’s a tendency for the rear wheel to spin in the snow on the ground as I accelerate. If it happens that I don’t get my front wheel up on the log, it’s 50-50 on whether I end up just rolling backwards or whether my momentum carries my body forward over the bars or my nuts into the stem. So the best way to prevent this is to either lean back slightly when initiating the pedal wheelie to increase traction, or to use a manual wheelie.
  2. If I don’t aggressively unweight (unload) the rear wheel and need to pedal to keep my momentum, there’s a tendency for the rear wheel spin on the slippery log, resulting in a dab.

My crash over the Mai Fete Island log was the result of neither. The snow on the other side of the log was soft in spots and my front wheel stopped abruptly because A) I didn’t have my weight back far enough to compensate; and B) at around zero degrees, my front suspension gets sluggish and therefore it didn’t absorb the obstacle of the soft snow to rescue me.