As born and raised up to 24 years old in Taiwan and lived in a partial snowy country, Japan, for 8 years, I still never experienced a long-stay life in a snowy area or country.
While deciding to come to Finland, I understood I’ll experience very differently from my life so far. But I was still so excited for every new experience I had in Finland.
The recently impressive one is to bike in heavy snow.
I’m not sure your image about Finland, but if you check the Google map of Finland, you may feel that there are no mountains and most areas are flat.
As I’m living in Jyvaskyla, southern central Finland, I can say that there is indeed no any mountains, but it’s not flat all the way.
There are many hills. The height of these hills could be around 30 meters. My apartment and my university also locate on hills.
As a result, I have to bike downhill every morning and walk uphill every evening. The slope is around 25 degrees, which is quite steep.
At the first several times while I was trying to bike down such a hill covered with snow, I was scared, but I feel much more comfortable to do it now.
If the temperature is stably lower than minus 2 or 3, the snow will not melt and the snow powder will provide sufficient friction and make tires of bike not slide on the snowy ground. As long as you don’t pull break fully, you can lower the speed of your bike stably, generally speaking. (Remember that you never use the break of fore wheel. Only use the break of back wheel!)
The most dangerous condition I experienced is that the road was covered with snow one day before and the snow melts into water and ice on the next day, which makes the friction between wheels and ground very low and makes tires slide easily.
But! You can still ride your bike in this condition! (simply based on mu personal experience. I won’t guarantee your safty!)
With a viewpoint of physics, no matter how slippery the ground is, if you can keep your wheel almost vertical to the ground, the bike will never fall because of the lateral sliding.
However, it would be much difficult to do it when you are trying to turn. Therefore, it would be better to get off your bike and walk for turning, or lower your speed to very very low to avoid lateral sliding.
So now you can understand that as long as it’s a horizontal ground, you can always ride your bike safely by paying sufficient attention to keep your wheels vertical to the ground even on a snowy and slippery ground.
But, how about the slope?
When biking down a slippery slope, you need to understand that it’s impossible to 100% control your speed.
If you pull your back wheel break, you can lower your speed to some certain level, but you cannot totally stop your bike since if you pull your back wheel break too much, the back wheel will start to slide, which makes you lose your control to your bike more easily. So, if you are not experienced or not confident, you should get off the bike and walk down the slope. If you somehow experienced or you are confident, you can ride down with certain speed by checking there are no people or barriers in front of you in advance.
Some people may think about using winter tires for bikes, but after confirming the experience of senior students, it seems that the winter tire wouldn’t help.
After considering the cost and the efforts to exchange winter tires, I decided to use summer tire for the whole winter here in Finland.
So far, I haven’t fallen down from my bike. I’ll try my best to set up my personal record of no falling from my bike in this whole winter. (well, this is nothing about the readers…)