Two Tips to Instantly Improve Your Riding in Bad Weather Instantly
For a lot of people, snowboarding just isn’t as fun when the sun isn’t shining. It’s nothing to do with rapidly plummeting temperatures either.
A big part of riding well is confidence. Good weather makes for good visibility, which inspires confidence. For the opposite reasons, bad weather can be an instant drain on your stoke. With every tiny imperfection visible on the snow, picking out a line is easy. You know where any hazards are and can deal with them in plenty of time. Most folk will ride harder, faster, and longer on a perfect bluebird day.
The dichotomy for many riders is that although poor weather often means fresh powder to shred, for the unprepared or inexperienced, it can also make for lousy conditions whilst the white stuff is actually dumping. With confidence low, it’ll be almost impossible to ride your best.
Even if you live right by the mountain, your time on it is precious. It’s even more valuable if you had to travel for hours to reach the slopes. If you find your enthusiasm waning whenever the sun disappears, these tips should help you to make the most of every minute that your lift pass is active.
Stick Below the Tree Line
Tree runs are great. They force you to perfect tight turns, as well as your ability to pick killer lines. Although many riders already know the thrill of an afternoon between the trees, less appreciate the impact of trees on visibility.
When the sun disappears and you’re out riding near the top of the mountain, visibility will drop fast. Some boarders will soldier on in the less-than-perfect conditions, trying to negotiate whatever hazards might be ahead whilst battling with just a few feet of visibility. Unfortunately, cruising at speed is no longer an option when the sky and snow have formed a single white mass that feels inches from your face. With this in mind, other riders might head down to the bar to talk about “what might have been” over a commiseratory drink.
In such conditions, smart riders head below the tree line. The solid, dark outlines of trees give your eyes lots of reference points amongst the featureless white elsewhere on the mountain.
Trees also provide protection from some of the visibility-reducing weather you might encounter elsewhere on the hill. If fog or snow itself is making it tough to see where you’re going higher up, a day in the forest might be the perfect solution.
Take Appropriate Eyewear
A huge part of the visibility battle is eyewear. When the sun disappears, all that fancy UV protection your fair-weather shades or goggles are equipped with is suddenly useless. At this point, you want as much of whatever light is available to make it to your eyes.
Your stationary visibility will actually improve immediately if you lose tinted goggles or sunglasses. However, the more the air temperature around you drops, the less you’ll feel like having it blasted into your eyes. If you want to continue riding, you'll still need protection from the wind and therefore, goggles are still essential.
Goggle manufacturers make their products with different conditions in mind. Each lens will have a VLT rating. VLT stands for visible light transmission and companies denote the VLT using a percentage.
The lower the VLT rating of a set of goggles, the more light they will block out. Products designed strictly for bluebird days might be 25 percent or less. At the other end of the spectrum, a 50 percent or higher VLT lens will favour low light conditions.
A great example of a goggle tailored for poor visibility is the Tallcan Double Lens from Ryders Eyewear. Rated with 90% VLT, these are perfect for night sessions, or the very worst daytime conditions.
Anything in between these two extremes will generally provide a good balance.
The Best of Both Worlds?
Appropriate eyewear will make your time on the slopes much more enjoyable. A happy, confident rider is more likely to perform well and this leads to further good times.
That said, eyewear can be pretty expensive. With high-spec goggles costing a few hundred dollars alone, you might be reluctant to splash out on both a high and low VLT pair. This is where goggles with interchangeable lenses are fantastic. Many manufacturers design their products with a pop out lens. The rider can then switch up their eye protection depending on the weather.