I hate cycling indoors. In years past I have used TrainerRoad, Sufferfest, and this month I have in fact done a couple of Zwift rides. Horrible. 🙂 I would far rather snow bike no matter how cold/windy/icy it is.
Secrets to winter cycling: Many layers of warm clothes (plus spares), thick tires, Sorel boots, mittens with chemical hand warmers, as many car free trails as possible, and a sense of humour.
I have a series of local routes on gravel roads/trails that I ride regularly from home. And a few times, like today, I climb Mont Salève. Here is a brief route description with photos (and map below) from a few different rides – all from last couple of weeks.
After climbing to Beaumont, I take the Chemin de St. Jacques Pilgrim Trail through the old Chartreuse de Pomier Monastery grounds. Superb, all the way to St. Blaise.
Next I climb the very steep paved road above St. Blaise. The landscape here often blocks the clouds in the Genévois valley, so it’s not unusual to get above the clouds here, like today:
Last night, I rode as far as here just to get above the clouds and see the sunset:
Next, the route takes the south/west paved road up Le Salève through the woods. In winter this usually stays cleared as far as the Grotte du Diable just short of Col des Pitons (see map). This is a wonderfully quiet road, 6% or 7% for several kms, but can still be quite slippery:
At Grotte du Diable there is a barrier in winter, so no cars. The next 5.5 kms are occasionally groomed for cross-country skiing, but usually not. If not, it’s a superb traverse to Croisette on a snowy road with views of the Alps in one direction and views of the Juras and Geneva in the other. It can be tough pedalling with drifting snow but most of it is gently downhill, so this is the better direction for the loop in winter.
The uncleared road above Grotte du Diable:
Along the top. Snowy but just about rideable:
I suggest always bringing the proper footwear for these types of long/cold rides: 🙂
At Croisette, sometimes, I’ll continue up to Vue des Alpes a few kilometres higher on the other side of the mountain (see 2nd map). But in winter on weekends, it is a zoo at Croisette as it’s very popular with hikers/toboganners/cars. Almost always a traffic jam as overflow cars stupidly park on side of the road creating a single lane and thus a stand-off in the afternoon as people both leaving and still coming up. But on a winter weekday, the view of the Alps from Vue des Alpes is fantastic.
I usually just descend home down the super steep side to Le Coin. The advantage of this being a popular side with cars in winter …. no ice on the descent. And the traffic jam often means (as today) no cars on entire descent as all are blocked. 🙂
But sometimes I’ll first ride on trails atop the mountain near where the parapenters take off:
Anyway, that’s what I like to do on a bike from home in high winter! Safe pedalling to all.
(A few more local snow bike photos from last couple of weeks):
A lightly different route with more trails throughout:
On the other hand, Cross Country Skiing is a good alternative when roads get just too icy to be safe for a bike: