Home > Going off topic, Stupid Bike Tricks > Top Tips for Climbing to the Tip Tops

Top Tips for Climbing to the Tip Tops

I try to avoid talking like I know what I’m talking about.  Most of what you’ll find here is pure fluff barely worth the time and effort you used to click that mouse thingy you’re holding.  But here is me giving advice on something probably none of you have any desire to do; climbing to the top of a mountain on a frozen roadway.

Before I begin, my team of litigation savvy attorneys has advised me to tell you to never climb to the top of a mountain on a frozen roadway.  Bicycles are inherently dangerous devices and should always be avoided, as are frozen roadways.  Never, ever do what I’m about to tell you to do.

My first and probably most important tip is to take note of the ice patches as you are climbing slowly to the summit.  Be especially vigilant on north facing slopes and heavily shaded areas.  Downhill speeds off mountain sides can equal those of automobiles.  Forty-five to fifty miles per hour is not uncommon.  So be mindful of your speed and slow it down.  I don’t ride with a computer, so judging speed for me is a matter of experience and dumb Irish luck.

Hitting an ice patch in a car is dangerous.  Hitting an ice patch on a bike could be deadly. Look for a landmark uphill from the ice giving you time to slow to a creep.  If none is available, make one.  Use branches to form an ‘X’ on the shoulder of the road.  If the roadway is a solid sheet of ice, just forget the whole thing and spend your day in the warm security of your favorite pub.

Next tip?  Try to stay warm without becoming overheated on your climb to the summit.  Do this by layering.  Of course you already knew this.  The Velo Hobo readers are some of the brightest blog readers on the planet.  But still it’s worth mentioning that if you get sweaty climbing up you’ll be suffering in the forty-five mile per hour wind chill coming down.

The Next tip goes along with the last.  Be sure to carry empty space to put all those layers as you dress, undress, dress again and again on your ride.  Empty space is one of the most useful things I’ve ever carried on a bike.  A Large handlebar bag or small pannier is great to have for winter riding.

Last tip, eat.  Calories are your friend and this is especially true in sub-freezing weather.  Iditarod dog-mushers know this, but they have the luxury of killing and eating a husky.  You’ll have to bring food with you.  Now is not the time to pull out a Jenny Craig snack bar.  Go for the good stuff, a nice gooey granola bar with big chips of chocolate is my favorite.

Oh, one last tip.  Tell someone where you will be and when you expect to return.  This is especially important if the roadway is closed for the season.  Thanks for reading, and please share any other tips you have for icy winter riding.  Jack

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  1. arlen
    December 11, 2011 at 9:01 am

    i did so many over the handlebars head first into the snow berms on the roads back in the sierra nevada`s north of lake tahoe, calif….
    that is where i got my winter wheels training…
    you are right about the speed going down hill….and again all it took was just one time….
    to learn to slow way down before going into a curve….other wise you go airborne off the road
    into the trees…did that one..didn`t break anything….just knocked the air out of me…was thankful for the heavy snowfall…took several life times to get myself and my mtb back up onto the road…

  2. The Velo Hobo
    December 11, 2011 at 9:05 am

    Good tip Arlen, you never know what’s around the bend in the road till you’ve hit it.

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