The Pinkbike Podcast: Episode 31 - Wet Weather Riding Tips & Tricks

Nov 18, 2020
by Mike Kazimer  
Art by Taj Mihelich

With the days getting shorter and the weather getting colder in the Northern Hemisphere, we decided to turn our attention to the tips and tricks we've picked up along the way for making the most of wet and muddy rides. Of course, not everyone is lucky enough to be able to ride year-round, so we also talked about alternative activities that can help you get through the off-season. Sitting on the couch and binge watching Neftlix is a totally viable option...

Sarah Moore, Christina Chapetta, James Smurthwaite and I also discussed the latest mountain bike news, and answered the latest batch of listener questions.

Oct 5th, 2020

Heated insoles, spare gloves - what do you do to make wet and cold rides more enjoyable?

Hosted by Mike Levy (usually, except when he's at curling camp) and featuring a rotating cast of the editorial team and other guests, the Pinkbike Podcast is a weekly update on all the latest stories from around the world of mountain biking, as well as some frank discussion about tech, racing, and everything in between.

Previous Pinkbike Podcasts
Episode 1 - Why Are Bikes So Expensive?
Episode 2 - Where the Hell is the Grim Donut?
Episode 3 - Pond Beaver Tech
Episode 4 - Why is Every Bike a Trail Bike?
Episode 5 - Can You Trust Bike Reviews?
Episode 6 - Over Biked Or Under Biked?
Episode 7 - Wild Project Bikes
Episode 8 - Do We Need an Even Larger Wheel Size?
Episode 9 - Why Are We Doing a Cross-Country Field Test?
Episode 10 - Getting Nerdy About Bike Setup
Episode 11 - Are We Going Racing This Year?
Episode 12 - What's the Future of Bike Shops?
Episode 13 - Are Bikes Too Regular Now?
Episode 14 - What Bikes Would Pinkbike Editors Buy?
Episode 15 - What's Holding Mountain Biking Back?
Episode 16 - Who's Your Mountain Biking Hero?
Episode 17 - XC Field Test Insider
Episode 18 - Electronics on your Mountain Bike: Good or Bad?
Episode 19 - The Hardtail Episode
Episode 20 - MTB Conspiracy Theories
Episode 21 - Stuff We Were Wrong About
Episode 22 - Does Your Riding Style Match Your Personality?
Episode 23 - Grim Donut 2 is Live!
Episode 24 - Why Even Buy a DH Bike?
Episode 25 - Fall Field Test Preview
Episode 26 - The Three Most Important Mountain Bikes
Episode 27 - The World Champs Special
Episode 28 - All About Women's Bikes
Episode 29 - Freeride or Die
Episode 30 - Would You Rather?

Author Info:
mikekazimer avatar

Member since Feb 1, 2009
1,708 articles

  • 39 0
 I thought we were just supposed to sit inside cleaning our bikes with a toothbrush and buying random shit online. Like grips we dont need or a 200 dollar handle bar aligner.
  • 11 0
 $200 to align my bars? Damn. I could buy two pairs of grips for that price!
  • 1 13
flag laceloop (Nov 18, 2020 at 17:24) (Below Threshold)
 @AdamKos: more like 7 or 8 pairs
  • 2 3
 Go check out my MTB Blog & Podcast
  • 1 0
 @TurnMeOnJohn: your logos pretty cool
  • 26 0
 Is "curling camp" a euphemism for some sort of rehab center for his monster energy drink addiction?
  • 6 0
 it's what they call ayahuasca retreats in the Canadian Orthodox
  • 1 0
 Donut detox
  • 19 0
 -maxxgrip (or similar)
-lower the psi
-square off roots
-keep those wheels rolling regardless of how slow you’re going
-stay loose. If you’re tense, it won’t be a good day

Finally, love riding in all conditions.
  • 16 0
 just want to give a shoutout to the PB team for these podcasts. Been listening while deployed, and a great way to get caught up on the week in mountain bike.
  • 11 0
 Thanks! We've been a good time making them.
  • 17 3
 And remember kids we (the UK) have the muddiest mud known to man. No mud is muddier, stickier, stinkier or sloppier than ours.
  • 7 5
 You should visit Minnesota in mud season...
  • 7 0
 I’ve just been out in the midlands and I think I’ve come across the muckiest mud since records began, so let that be a lesson to you all who think you’ve got muddy conditions.
  • 11 1
 @CycleKrieg: you should visit the UK. They don't have a dry season.
  • 7 0
 North east is good for grinding, gritty mud, the sort of thing that wears out a precision part in half a mile.
  • 4 0
 @ThunderChunk: this could not be more true.

We basically have a wet season which is 365 days long with the occasional dry day thrown in.
  • 2 0
 @kev-roberts: I was talking to my coworker from the UK about the weather. He told me the record for straight consecutive days of rain was 76 days. At first I thought that isn't so bad. Similar to a winter in Vancouver. Then he told me that was in summer. Yikes!
  • 13 0
 Christina’s perspective is a nice addition to the podcast and in her PB content — much appreciated!
  • 8 0
 I made up the Gauntlet of Death event back at the Texas Toast events. Let's build a mountain bike one!
Each sponsor gets their own absurd obstacle and we make it fun for everyone, and maybe impossible.
  • 1 0
 I didn't know you were the one who made up the Gauntlet of Death; I used to love watching videos of that!
There absolutely should be a mountain bike version!
  • 11 4
 Levy made these podcasts gold
  • 18 0
 Levy will be back soon, but curling is really important to him.
  • 5 0
 @brianpark: any chance of Levy sending a pit report on the latest stone and broom tech?
  • 3 9
flag barbarosza (Nov 18, 2020 at 18:21) (Below Threshold)
 More Levy less Park
  • 7 0
 @barbarosza: I only ride levy
  • 1 0
 @brianpark: Does "curling one down" have the same meaning across the pond as in the UK? Just curious as most Brits will smirk at any mention of the word curling.
  • 4 1
 I should've bought a fat bike. We can't go to VT or ME to ski and NH is going to be a disaster.

I plan on spending the entire winter on the trainer and coming out the other side with a respectable "I made holiday meals for 8 but can only eat with 1 other person" gut and legs chiseled from granite.
  • 2 0
 I think you can go to VT with a negative COVID test.
  • 5 0
 @NivlacEloop: yeah, they do allow it, but it's a bit byzantine. You have to either do a 14 days in-home quarantine or 7 days in-home quarantine + negative PCR test and then you can enter...which is kind of impractical because going to get the PCR test would reset the quarantine timeline and the rapid PCR test is like $160. I don't want to screw it up for everyone else so I'm going to call this year a mulligan and keep spinning away.
  • 1 0
 @sjma: that all seems like a pain in the ass. Guess ill hit up wa wa a couple times. wish i had enough money for a trainer.
  • 1 0
 @sjma I thought NH was still listed as exempted travel to ME. At least it is listed as one today. Not sure how much longer thats gonna hold true though....

Regardless, get a fatty, some are still popping up for sale. They're especially great when it gets super icy. The trails turn into this weird magic carpet ride
  • 4 0
 But guys, every time I ride in the rain or within days after it, people yell at me for riding wet trails...

(Reality: if I have the time to ride, I am out riding. Regardless of the weather)
  • 1 1
 Yep. Don't destroy the trails. Even though most of the damage is caused by the weather.
  • 1 1
 It’s the same dorks cleaning the leaves off the trails
  • 4 0
 It’s definitely an area dependent thing. PB is based primarily in the NW where a good percentage of all trails can be ridden year round. Most places in the country are not this way.
  • 3 0
 My original weak link was may hands freezing while winter riding. Carbon bars & thick (soft) silicone grips made a massive difference in my winter setup, which over time has become my default year 'round setup.

I needed to wear my snowboarding gloves when I first started winter trail riding on an aluminum cockpit a decade ago. The loss of dexterity for braking and shifting was ridiculous.

With the carbon bars / silicone grip setup I could easily ride in 20F (-6.6C) weather with just the "most day gloves" from Hand Up. But this is when I noticed that the tip of my index fingers would go numb with aluminum brake levers, so I also begrudgingly "upgraded" to carbon lever brakes, and it made a huge difference.

So now with all carbon touch points, I can ride in 10F (-12.2C) with "cold day" gloves from Hand Up, and to 0F (-17.7C) with "ColdER day" gloves from Hand Up.

Anything colder than that it's my face that freezes, even with a gator, because that eventually gets wet / snotty and freezes.... luckily in NYC where I live, it rarely gets to 0F straight air temperature. But of course with the wind ripping, it can feel a lot colder than that even when the actual air temp isn't.

A flask of whiskey helps too! While technically that actually makes you lose body temp faster, getting a little extra blood to my face keeps it from freezing off. Good times ensue!
  • 1 0
 Try these. I haven't actually used mine yet. But was recommended from snow bikers. Here it can be pretty windy, 10 deg F and 20mph wind is brutal. I had a one hour ride last winter where it took 5 hours after I was home for my fingers to feel normal. That scared me a bit.
  • 2 0
 I did rides when hailing and snowing. Was a right of passage, but I skip those now.
  • 5 0
 I need an episode about riding in deeper and deeper’s been 215 days since the last rain.
  • 2 0
 We did get a nice day of rain an snow here a couple weeks ago. All gone now, but was cool to see.

(Riverside area)
  • 3 0
 Get a fat bike with 4.8 tires.
  • 3 3
 @SuperHighBeam: I’ll stop riding before I get a fat bike...thankfully I live in a climbing and fishing hotspot.
  • 1 1
 @unrooted: To each his own. Fat bikes were built for sand and snow. Just trying to help you out and extend your riding season.
  • 2 0
 Can we go into the crank length answer by Christina?
I got the opposite reaction from friends who mover to 165 - no loss in power, but a gain in clearance.

I was also curious on how moving to short cranks feels with your feet 2cm closer as well as closer to center of BB...footwork through turns for example.
  • 1 1
 It feels good, more control for sure with the feet closer together. I feel no loss in power, easier to spin up to speed, better clearance obviously. No brainer.
  • 1 1
 There’s no appreciable difference in power for mtb at 165 vs 175. For some people it’s harder to spin their legs in the smaller circles, but that’s not very common. The extra ground clearance is fairly noticeable assuming you don’t go from a 175 crack where the tip of the crank is fairly thin to a 165 that’s fairly thick (same arm length just different location for the pedal insert).
  • 1 0
 I ride 152mm cranks and 160mm cranks, love the ground clearance, no loss of power and balance is improved.

I would not go back to long cranks, there’s no advantages and there are lots of disadvantages.

But don’t believe me, it’s up to each person to try thinking outside the box.
  • 1 0
 I found they felt a bit more "spinny" when climbing but hardly noticed the difference descending, certainly no downsides.
Perhaps we adjust our foot position slightly (on flats anyway) to account for the 1cm total difference.
Anyway, I do wish Shimano, RaceFace etc. would do 165mm as a commonly available option - would really help with the low BB on one of my bikes.
  • 1 0
 @chakaping: pretty sure some of the new Shimano 12 speed cranks have 165mm options
  • 1 0
 @DHhack: Sram has GX and NX options too.
  • 2 0
 Sitting here with 3 broken ribs I'd quite happily ride the rest of my days without crashing. And I doubt they're going to be healed in 6 weeks, in my experience it's at least 2 months for bones to heal and 3 months before they're fully right.
  • 1 0
 I broke my hip riding in Queenstown in February. I was on crutches for five months. Happy to never, ever crash again.
  • 1 0
 Broke one in the back, took six weeks at 45 years old. Spent the time designing a backyard pumptrack. You'll be fine.
  • 1 0
 @titaniumcrank: Fingers crossed. Not allowed to run, or lift anything for a year. And time will tell whether I get five years or ten before it has to be replaced
  • 2 0
 For the places with temperatures frequently well below freezing and even below OF.

1) wear thermal wicking layers top, bottom and feet.
2) wear an insulating thermal mid-layer (select based on outdoor temp)
3) wear a wind-proof outer layer (add a mid layer, such as fleece or down, if needed for very cold conditions)
4) wear a ski helmet and goggles
5) wear insulated clipless boots (45nrth Wolfgars and Wolfhammers are awesome, LAKE makes some bomber options too). Riding with bulky snow boots on flats in the winter sucks.
6) Install wind-proof pogies on your handlebars (no matter of gloves with any dexterity will keep your hands warm while riding in frigid conditions)
7) Install studded tires, large concave studs appear to be most effective. Light snow and studded 2.2-2.6 are fine. 1-3 inches of snow 2.6-3.0 studded are good. 3-5inches powder 4.0 studded is the gold standard. Breaking wilderness powder of more than 5 inches goes for the studded 4.8+ size fat tires, but be willing to accept a slow ride.

In very cold (below 0F) there seems to be a preference for high quality mechanical disc brakes and grip shifters. Apparently brake fluid doesn't function well in very cold conditions. Metallic pads also seem to be the common recommendation. Select a wet weather chain lubricant. Haven't heard any specific recommendations on forks and shocks. Definitely encouraged to lower pressure in tires for better traction. Select a tread pattern appropriate for typical conditions. Dillingers are popular, I have a preference for Wrathchild's.
  • 6 0
 Funny I just did a video about that dropping tomorrow!
  • 2 0
 @mikekazimer could you guys go into why stems are better shorter? I have a 35mm one currently, but was just told by a well known MTB ex-pinker that I should go longer. I think it might be because I am in the middle between a Medium and Large on most bikes at 5'10", and I am on a medium. He said that it would increase my reach going to a longer stem like a 50mm.

@brianpark love the podcasts and get to listen to them during work which is the best thing about work. But I heard a non-PB one with RC and he was talking about the future of MTB is not necessarily the MTB's themselves, but about trail access and trail sharing etc. He's onto something because I am a member of a bunch or sea to sky and lower mainland groups and there are so many arguments all the time about ebikes on trails, hikers on trails, moto's on trails, bikes riding on wet trails, bikes going the wrong way on trails, etc etc etc. I think this might be a great topic to delve into!

@christinachappetta I switched to a 2.5 Assegai on the front but I do still have a 2.6 Forkaster that I could throw on there instead for the winter. Which way should I go? 2.6 is wider but Assegai seems to be pretty popular with all of you!
  • 4 0
 That's awesome. I think RC will be joining us next week or the week after. Maybe we can pick his brain a little. Or maybe we need to have Radek/Trailforks crew join for some trail discussion as well.

And not to speak for Christina, but if you're here in the lower mainland riding aggressive trails, the Assegai will be a better tire in most conditions. The Forekaster is a decently aggressive XC tire if you want high volume, but it's only available in MaxxSpeed or dual compound (no MaxxTerra or MaxxGrip), and only in an EXO casing. Chances are your Assegai's got a more supportive casing, a stickier compound, and a more aggressive tread overall.
  • 3 0
 @cmolina, when I say short stems I'm referring to anything less than 50mm. With modern geometry and fork offset there should be a need to go any longer than that. A long stem can make the bike's steering feel odd, and puts your weight in an awkward position.

As for whether you should run a 50mm stem, is there a particular reason why you're considering going longer? Stem length is based a rider's body dimensions, but at a certain point it's also a matter of personal preference. There's no magic number that's guaranteed to work for a rider of a certain height. For me, at 5'11" I've found that 40mm is my sweet spot, but again, what works for me may not be for everyone.
  • 1 0
 I really like the answers of Brian and Kaz! And I will add that going from a 35mm stem to a 50mm stem on my 29r bike helped my body position a lot! With the bigger rear wheel (than 27.5), I really felt like I was hanging out in the back too much and too close for comfort. That 15mm pulled me forward on the bike just enough that I better control the front wheel and save my bum a few extra times. On the smaller wheels, for me, 35mm all the way!
  • 2 0
 @mikekazimer: So I think it was suggested because he said the bike seems a little on the small side for me and I probably should have gone for a Large instead of a medium frame. He suggested that a bit of a longer stem would get me a bit of a longer reach like @christinachappetta also mentions below. But maybe pushing it to 50mm could be to much and I should try a 40 (is there such a thing as 45mm?).
  • 2 0
 If UK based it would be more useful to have some tips and tricks for riding in the rare and random dry conditions. Loose and dusty is way more terrifying than wet and slippery.
  • 1 0
 @brianpark - Any idea on when will be getting an update on the I9 TR280 Carbon Wheelset? I have a set on order and curious to hear a long-term review.

@mikekazimer - Could we please get an update on the EXT ERA? I have one sitting in the box while I wait for the rest of my parts to arrive. Consumers started getting them a few weeks ago, so seems like a good time for a PB update.
  • 2 0
 I’ve got a tip if you’re goggles steam up. Pull the foam out from the surrounding so they breathe better. You don’t get the debris entering as much as you do from Mx roost.
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy @mikekazimer @brianpark

Quick question that I’m not sure has been covered as I’m a few podcasts behind at the minute (or I might have just missed it).

Have you ever seen a product (complete bike/frame/fork/groupset etc.) that you really, really wanted to try but it just wasn’t possible to get your hands on one? For one reason or another? If so, what was the reason you couldn’t get your hands on it? (Appreciate you may not be able to say why you couldn’t get it)
  • 2 0
 In general we're very lucky to be able to bring in most of the things we want to check out.

There are a few brands that are pretty insecure and can't handle anything short of glowing praise. It's been a struggle to get some of their new bikes at times. You can probably guess a few of them but I'm not naming names because I get it—marketing people's jobs are to look out for the brand, and if they aren't willing to stick their neck out, that's their prerogative. Independent editorial testing is high risk, high reward.

Personally I'd love to try some historical products, the Honda bike, Airlines, that kind of thing.
  • 1 0
 @brianpark: you’re in the queue behind me to get your hands on one of those Honda bikes!
  • 1 0
 It's an expensive sport. In the winter is rains plenty in the Pacific Northwest. And it's generally hovering a bot above zero in the mountains. This time of year I could not ride with out Gore Tex , waterproof breathable socks. 50 to 70$ investment. Worth every penny.
You can put plastic bags on your feet but plastic doesn't hold in any heat. Never worked for me.
For your hands : paper thin Gore Tex wind stopper gloves. Again amazing how these gloves hold in the heat.
If your spending four hours or more on the bike in wet cold weather you can't beat Gore Tex gear.
As for jackets. Water proof breathable membranes don't function when the humidity is 100 percent and your jacket is coated with water. Dirt causes the membrane to absorb water. I get a year out of a jacket , then it begins to loose performance. You don't get splattered head to toe hiking. Jackets can handle a hike but riding shoves dirt into the jacket . My secret weapon is a clear plastic jacket used by Roadies. It's waterproof not water resistant. Packed and sealed in a zip lock baggy. Weighs about 200 grams.
  • 1 0
 It would much appreciated, and more value added, to tell us the products you use personally instead of hooded jacket, pants, and gloves. Something like: “My go to cold weather pants are Fox Defend Fire but if it’s wet I reach for my Endura MT500 that have more waterproofing but are a little baggy.” I recently discovered 100% Briskers were a thing. I rely on you to be my product testing guinea pigs.
  • 1 0
 More Christina please, and just as much of everybody else. Input and comments from a wide range of rider experiences, interests, focuses, size and gender perspectives is great. Keep up the positive vibe and sharing the fun and knowledge. Also, winter riding that does not involve snow and fat bikes does not fully compute but I found your advice on gear and clothing on point. Cheers.
  • 1 0
 For cheap cold weather shoes, take your oldest pair of still rideable shoes and some Shoe Goo over *all* of the vents. Bodda bing, bodda boom! You now have yourself a pair of highly water resistant shoes. The tip to applying Shoe Goo is to put on a dab and then smooth it out with a piece of ice. The ice won't stick to the Goo, and you'll be able to spread it smoothly and evenly.
  • 1 0
 question for the podcast: how does bike weight matter? are the speed advantages of a light bike purely handing based or is there more to it than that? if i were to lose 1kg from either the bike or my body fat (same fitness) which would make me faster or is it the same?
  • 1 0
 Since I don’t want to buy a fat bike and we have snow for 4 months minimum in Ontario... what would you recommend for a bike trainer to stay on top of my game through the off season? They range from $200-2000! Does Pinkbike ever use them? And what one would you recommend?
  • 1 0
 Major props to you guys for making this podcast! I'm not into podcasts usually, but over time this one has really grown on me. Now that public life has slowed down once more, it's become somewhat of a small highlight in my week. Realized today that I missed the last two episodes, so there's still a bit of catching up to do. Again, thanks very much and please keep em coming.
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer why isn't overall bike size as important as reach? With a slack HA and little bit longer CS you get the whweelbase which in turn will make a bike more stable. Why then also have the long reach?
I sometimes wonder how different the feeling of a bike would be for you if you would review 5 different bike but choosing size on wheelbase instead of reach. Or front center length instead of reach. You and @mikelevy aren't super tall but are always reviewing size large. I understand it from a couple of years ago but not anymore. It seems like most EWS riders choose shorter bikes than what you're on.
  • 1 0
 dfender mudguard, gore countdown gloves, spare disc pads, spare gloves will hopefully help me survive my 34th consecutive welsh winter of riding mtb. if i had the funds I'd winter in sedona or new zealand...
  • 2 0
 What I do is put a few layers of aluminum foil under the insoles and keep them on my heater the night before. Having raynaunds, any way to keep my feet warm helps
  • 1 0
 New race format idea:
Rigid 26" retro bikes, interesting barely ridable courses through the woods. Riders have to stay on their bike or are penalized with extra time.
  • 1 0
 Question for next podcast: How do you make your bikes stand up for photoshoots? I watched the field test video and the bikes are just standing there with no obvious support! Do you just shoot quickly before it falls over?
  • 1 0
 Do you actually wear these clothes for the whole ride?
In Australia when it gets to single digits I consider wearing a jumper to the trail but after 5 minutes I'm back in jersey and shorts.
  • 1 0
 Just got some Zoic jeans, used 'em for the 1st time yesterday and they are nice! Much better than my 10lb Nema pants from a decade ago. Also, 165mm cranks ftw!
  • 1 0
 As a Vancouverite, I ride in the rain. Although I've been in monsoons that have forced me to stop because I can't see through my glasses. lol I'm used to the wet roots etc.
  • 2 0
 Bridgedale socks are the best for cold wet winter riding. Best purchase i made for winter riding.
  • 4 0
 Yeah, still surprised they mention battery operated do-dad contraptions instead of a good modern waterproof sock. Such as SealSkinz, Showers Pass, Bridgedale, etc. Seems like a missed marketing opportunity by the mtb industry here. For the PNW badass waterproof socks are a game changer. Use your normal "summer" riding shoe of choice, but go up 1/2 size or remove insole (point being don't cut off your circulation with a tight fit). Then a thinner Merino wool liner sock inside the waterproof sock. For PNW wet weather this is the best thing ever. You will absolutely forget about having cold feet, which will allow for more time to focus on the dirt in your teeth. Reliance on batteries for warmth is not recommended for several reasons.
  • 1 0
 @JDFF: preach!
  • 2 0
 Shampoo on your Google's/glasses and wipe them clean. Leaves a film that prevents fogging.
  • 1 0
 Baby shampoo. No more tears bruh
  • 2 0
 Surgery (latex) gloves under riding gloves. Sweaty but warm hands.
  • 1 0
 Water rinses silicone off, it has to be reapplied. A little turtle wax works better.
  • 1 0
 What pants do you like for wet PNW riding? Love the options, but recommendations would be rad!
  • 2 1
 Levy is a great host. Lookin forward to his return for sure!
  • 4 0
 The rest of them are very listenable too. The shows always have a relaxed natural vibe that some MTB podcasts lack.
  • 1 0
 Why wet weather techniques when everyone uses disc brakes?
  • 1 0
 I love this podcast but without LEVY it's such a snore fest.... zzzzzzzzzz
  • 1 0
 No offseason in Arkansas, see ya'll this winter.
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