You need the right type of snow.

I wasn’t impressed on my last ride. It had snowed but the snow was melting in places and forming ice in others. It wasn’t cold enough to freeze the thick mud and I didn’t enjoy the unpredictable trail conditions. I was aware that what I really needed was no snow at all or more snow and freezing temperatures, which we now have. The temperatures have dropped to well below zero at night and only 1 or 2 degrees Celcius during the days. I returned to Healey Nab with cautious optimism.

The roads were treacherous to reach the bottom of the hill but when I went off road it was far better than last time. The mud was hard frozen and climbing the open terrain wasn’t too difficult, though it took more effort than on dry ground. Climbing up to the woodland was similarly hard frozen but under the spruce trees was not at all frosty. Climbing further into the deciduous trees it was back to frozen ground where I managed to still get enough traction to keep going up the steeper slopes. I reached the trail head to find a couple of groups of mountain bikers, so I asked about trail conditions on the descents. Things sounded much as I’d expected so I decided to try the top loop first. This is a flowing, gentle downhill with a more direct and steeper return leg. The snow on the track had been compacted into a piste and offered enough grip on the slightly banked turns. An enjoyable little lap, even if it did take me more than twice as long as my fastest ever lap. Still, I was here for an enjoyable ride and exercise, not racing accolades. I took some photographs at the top and found that, looking out towards the coast, the snow cover didn’t extend far beyond town.

Winter Hill in the distance didn’t appear to have any more snow than the Nab, despite being over twice the height.

The red graded descent needed caution but offered enough grip to enjoy it. I had a few small slides and found it hard to slow down on a steeper approach to a corner but thought it good enough to return to the top for another top loop and descent. My confidence in the snowy conditions was increasing. I’d chosen to ride the Trek Fuel EX8, not because of it’s bigger 29″ wheels but because the tyres are less worn and of a knobblier type. I really must replace the gear change cable to improve shifting. After my second descent I allowed the speed to build across the open grass where there were no safety concerns. All in all it was a very worthwhile ride on a beautiful day. As I type this in the mid afternoon it’s again snowing heavily which will give me a chance for further adventure. Snow is OK but you certainly need it to be the right type of snow.

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