Australian Mountain Bike - - Contents - WORDS: MIKE BLEWITT PHOTO: AC­CI­DEN­TAL SELFIE

Win­ter is al­most here – but given the date of the win­ter sol­stice we’re al­ready well on the way to ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the long­est nights and short­est days. But is win­ter a bad thing? They say there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad cloth­ing. The fact is, all around Aus­tralia win­ter means some­thing very dif­fer­ent. Up in south east Queens­land win­ter means dry trails and lower hu­mid­ity. In other ar­eas it means se­ri­ous win­ter cloth­ing and high-pow­ered lights. Some of Aus­tralia’s best trails aren’t even ac­ces­si­ble in win­ter, and in­stead they have a hi­ber­na­tion pe­riod un­til we can get onto them in late spring and early sum­mer once their blan­ket of snow has melted. I find rid­ing in win­ter is re­ally mo­ti­vat­ing. The crisp air, quiet trails and soft light has me more mo­ti­vated than lath­er­ing on sun­screen and sweat­ing it out dur­ing the peak of sum­mer. And in Jan­uary I put that to the ul­ti­mate test, trav­el­ling from a hot and hu­mid Bris­bane to Gs­taad in Switzer­land, for an event that took place on snow. While the con­di­tions were tem­per­ate, mov­ing a few degrees around zero, it was a shock to the sys­tem. Be­yond that, it was also a com­pletely new ex­pe­ri­ence, rid­ing a bike in the snow took a to­tally new skill set com­pared to rid­ing trails at home. The chal­lenge sent me tum­bling way down the skills lad­der and work­ing back to ba­sics with new ap­proaches to steer­ing, brak­ing and po­si­tion­ing on the bike. And it was to­tally worth it. Even on the other side of the world, padded up in win­ter gear and rid­ing on a com­pletely dif­fer­ent sur­face, the re­ward was just the same. The laugh­ter shared and post-ride ban­ter was just as good. You can find the full story later in this is­sue. So what does win­ter mean for you? If it nor­mally cuts your rid­ing time, what can you do to ex­tend it again? Why not in­vest in some lights and throw an ex­tra layer on? As they say, you never re­gret a ride. We’re lucky to live in one of the best cli­mates for win­ter moun­tain bik­ing (sorry Tas­ma­nia) but cold morn­ings can make it hard to get started. Get out and pedal, en­joy qui­eter trails and cooler tem­per­a­tures and I guar­an­tee the trail buzz will still re­ward you. Go ahead, em­brace win­ter!

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