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Linda Dalpé, Liv Ambassador

Caraquet, New-Brunswick

My name is Linda Dalpé, I live in the Acadian Peninsula. More specifically in Caraquet, New-Brunswick, a magical place where the forest meets the sea to create a wonderful playground, especially in winter!

The heat of our bay means that our winters are quite mild and we benefit from more than 300cm of snow annually. I love mountain biking among other things, and I'm happy that winter biking keeps me active for another 5 months every year! My Giant Yukon 2 allows me to stay active and take care of my mental health for months that were once considered “off-season”. Our winters are quite long... this means that I can ride my fat-bike through the cold season, and spend the rest of the year on my Liv Intrigue!

Winter cycling is also a way to connect with newcomers and help them discover the joy of winter's sports. Indeed, during a community event, long-timer cyclists really appreciated their initiation to this new sport, compared to skating and cross-country skiing which required a whole new level of skills.

Winter biking is also a great opportunity for teenagers to get outside for their PE classes, especially in a place like Caraquet where the trailhead is 200m from the school, with access to our club's rental fleet of fat-bikes.

Why do you love it?

It should be noted that my favorite playground is located in the heart of the city of Caraquet: the Club Plein-Air de Caraquet, and that I can bike directly from home, in less than 5 minutes! Mountain biking and trail running is possible during the summer and fall, but it is during the cold winter that this gem really comes alive. You can find an outdoor hockey rink and ice rink, classic and skate cross-country trails, snowshoe trails and winter bike trails, all separate, no shared trails. With so many possibilities, it's a real paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, where we find all kinds of people who love winter and adore snow!

Winter biking gives me the opportunity to double my outdoor cycling season. But beware! As road biking is different from mountain biking, so is winter biking. Also pretty cardio, it requires a little more balance since the snowy road offers its own challenges, which change with the temperature and the "quality" of the snow, fresh or not. It is not for nothing that there are dozens and dozens of different words for "snow" and "ice" in Inuktitut!

The winter bike also gives me the chance to ride on ephemeral trails entirely shaped by Nature! You never know when these trails will be practicable and for how many days (hours) but each time is a wonder, whether on a crust of snow in a plain or a wild blueberry field or on the bay, among the fishing cabins.

Even riding a bike at night in winter has its own charm. If there is a full moon, the white covering the ground and the trees reflects its clarity. And silence. The silence in the forest when everything is white reminds me to take a deep breath of the fresh air and stop for a few moments.

How to be prepared?

How do we prepare for a winter ride? As we prepare for any outdoor activity: we check the conditions (weather and trail conditions), we dress for the conditions (see below) and we plan enough water and snacks. But most importantly, we get ready to have "lots of fun"! Was it very cold during the night? Perfect! The trails will have hardened and you will gain speed!

If this is your first ride, make sure the trail conditions are right in order to have a good experience, because if you were lucky enough to get 30 cm of snow overnight and the team of volunteers hasn't had a chance to go on the groomer yet, you should strap on your snowshoes and give them the chance to give some love to the trails.

Speaking of volunteers, get ready to make new friends! Because riding a winter bike and appreciating all that it entails (there is a whole lot of knowledge behind the grooming of these trails, as there is with cross-country skiing trails) means that you will probably be tempted to slowly become a volunteer. There's a lot of work behind the maintenance of the trails in winter and all the prep in autumn. And I'm telling you, it can be quite fun to ride the "Snowdog"!

My essentials

As with many winter sports activities, dressing appropriately is important. First of all, I never ride without a helmet. It's the same one I use in the summer, but I wear it with a thin toque or even a "buff". My riding goggles are replaced with ski/board goggles with a pale lens. For my neck, I use another "buff" that I can move up to my mouth.

Your nose is the area that's more susceptible to frostbite and I love wearing this product made by our neighbors in Quebec: Bomask. I usually wear a jacket designed for cross-country skiing and waterproof pants (the same one I use for snowshoeing). Underneath, I apply the multi-layer system with basic merino wool underwear and/or Polar underwear.

On my hands, I wear little merino wool gloves because I have Bar Mitts (neoprene mittens) on my handlebars.
I put on good hiking boots (the same as when I go out on snowshoes) with a sock lining, which helps wick away moisture from the surface of the foot towards my second sock which is often wool. I cover the whole thing with gaiters because if (when!) I put my foot slightly off the groomed trail they prevent me from having my boots fill up with snow when I sink thigh-deep into it! Getting out of this situation is simplified once your riding buddies are done laughing… with you.

I take a light backpack, often the one I use for my hydration system in the summer, to bring a mini pump and a pressure gauge for the adjustments that are sometimes necessary once acknowledging the conditions on the trails. I usually roll with 6 to 8 psi in both tires. My backpack is also useful for picking up pieces of clothing from my multi-layered system when I'm well warmed up. Sometimes I bring some energy candy for troubleshooting.

To stay hydrated, I like to bring a bottle of lukewarm water in which I add a lemon slice or two for taste. Be careful to have a wide nozzle on your bottle, since your water may freeze. If you use lights to illuminate the trails, take into consideration that the life of your battery will be shortened by the cold, so provide a spare battery. I don't own studded tires for the simple reason that our winters are very snowy and the conditions are rarely icy, but this detail is to be seen depending on your region.

Recovery time!

We are really lucky to have access to trails in the heart of our community. I can go straight on the trails from my house, but I can also go off the trails and ride to my favorite little cafe, Grains de folie, for a comforting soup followed by a coffee (or a hot cider!) with a pastry. All this in less than 5 minutes.

Learn more!

Finding it hard to stay motivated through these testing times... especially during winter? Lesley Paterson, Liv Racing athlete, explains Why Routine is Important During Times of Uncertainty.