I thought cycling was something that you did warm summer days and warm summer days only. But I changed my mind completely a few years ago. It was the Christmas market in Jåhkåmåhkke, lots of snow and very cold. Polar night and mostly darkness. I was crossing the market place, between market stalls and visitors with warm winter clothes, navigating between the misty clouds from my breath, turning into ice crystals. It was then I met this cool guy riding his fatbike through the small crowd like it was just another ordinary day. It was David, co-author of this site and my friend to be, riding his Surly fatbike, equipped with massive 5 inch wide tires. He had lots of ice in his mustache and a big fat smile on his lips. From that moment, I instantly knew that I had to try winter cycling. And it didn’t take much to get me hooked.
Here in Jokkmokk, north of the Arctic circle, the winter is long, and the snow-free season not so long. So it makes sense to use your bike even in the wintertime, especially since we live in a small place, where you can quickly go by bike from the outskirts of town to the center in a few minutes. As an example, it takes me about two minutes to ride my bike from home to my office, and another five minutes if I would decide to take the detour to the grocery store to pick up a lunch sandwich.
But riding in snow and ice can be scary. Snow may be ok, but ice is worse. And snow on ice even worse. So before starting winter cycling, I had to get some studded tires.
My choice of winter cycle was my mountain bike, and I found a good pair of studded tires to go along. The Schwalbe Ice Spiker Pro Performance – twentyniners with 400 spikes. They had to be run in by riding them on paved roads for about 40 km (25 miles) without sudden acceleration or heavy braking. And one cold and rainy autumn day in October, I hit the tarmac to give my new tires the virgin voyage they deserved. The sound of the spikes hitting the tarmac was like music. These tires were something extra! I felt like a new human being – one who doesn’t let the bike rest in the garage during the winter.
And since then, I had lots of fun with my studded tires. Riding the first ice on the lakes, before the snow comes. Riding my daily summer mountainbike track with the dog, even though it’s the end of November, and icy and snowy. Going to the store and shop for groceries, on the slippery and icy tarmac.
Sometimes I lose some studs. Especially when out in the woods on an icy single track with roots and stones. But I have 400 of them on each tire, and a few more or less don’t make a big difference. And it’s easy to replace when needed.
So you could really say that my studded tires, changed my relationship to cycling. The season extended over the whole year. I felt secure out on the roads in the winter. And I had no longer, so many reasons not to take the bike.
But despite the long winter in Jokkmokk, most of the year I do not need studded tires. When the snow comes, I enjoy fatbiking in the snow mobiles tracks. And I do not use studded tires on my fatbike. I get plenty of grip anyway. And we have a long and lovely winter fatbiking season.
But suddenly winter turns into spring. We still have lots of snow, but the days are warm and sunny, and the nights freezing cold. Snow melts in the day and turns to ice into the night. Snowmobile tracks becomes ice tracks. The roads are more dangerous than minefields, and the hip fractures sky rockets. And now you really do need some studs again.
It was one of those days, David and I took our mountainbikes to Lake Skabrram, to do some cycling on the ice. The dog Skájdde followed along as always. The ice was really slippery and smooth. This was a real tough test for the Schwalbe Ice Spiker Pro Performance. Check out the video clips to see how they did perform.