We had a lot of rain on Xmas here in southern Minnesota that completely ruined our several inches of fluffy snow. But as the temps dropped, the melting snow froze, creating some unusual ice. I found this mini-skating rink near my house that coated a sidewalk, curb, and access street. The gradual slope made it an ideal traction challenge. I kept tightening my approach to make it more difficult. I'm using ratcheting, track stands, and rocking skills. And you'll see the difference between tires inflated at 10 psi vs 1-2 psi. But the main technique I deployed was to constantly apply the rear brake with just enough pressure to prevent any wheel spin. I call it 'dragging' the rear brake since that seems to best describe it, ie, applying steady power/pedaling while the brake is engaged just the right amount. I learned this technique riding mototrials, most typically on slippery off-cambers where steady power via the throttle while dragging the brakes could help prevent the rear wheel from slipping out underneath you. 1-min video, no slowmo:
I rode Leb a couple weeks ago on my 29’er hardtail. I had about 15 PSI in my skinny Maxxis Ardent 2.4″ tires, with rear tubeless. I’m 150 pounds. Since the intermediate loop was packed pretty well and reasonably wide, I thought I’d be fine. NOT.
If I didn’t stay in the hard center, the softer edges of the packed area would often derail me. I kept thinking “lean the bike more” and “keep your eyes ahead.” I tried standing up more, then sitting down more. Nothing worked. I then ran into Bob Shepherd and a small gang on fatties and told them my tale of woe. Bob and another guy squeezed my tires and said they were way too hard, and in a way that left no doubt of their convictions. I wasn’t as sure but I promptly began letting out air and as Bob got ready to depart, he asked me if I had a pump in case I let out too much. I did.
The difference was shocking. Continue reading The benefits of near-zero tire pressure for riding in the snow