The grand movements of nature and society have traditionally followed their own course regardless of the plans of individuals. This seems especially true when individuals lay those plans to adapt to those grand movements.
In the previous couple of years that I have been trying to use the Cotton Valley Trail to extend my bike commuting season into the dark months, the decision to quit has been mine to make, well before winter weather really shuts things down. This year we've had two significant snowstorms that forced me off the path before December even arrived. Each one melted after a while.
Between October's storm and November's I took a look at my old mountain bike. The Cross Check is an excellent bike. If I owned only one bike it would be that one. But I don't. I build to meet my needs. I quit riding the mountain bike completely after I built the Cross Check, because I no longer wanted to spend time looking for technical trails. But what if technical trails came to me?
The shifters remain where they belong: on top of the bars.
When mud was a selling point and filth was fun we would charge out on the rotting ice of thawing snowmobile trails and laugh about our sprawls in frigid water and silt. As much fun as that sounds, it's not good if your ride ends at your place of employment. They don't care how I look when I arrive. We all used to ride in the gook together. However, I have to be ready to work with customers.
In the 1990s I tried studded mountain bike tires when they first became popular. They were novel, but I was more likely to skate or ski if ice or snow were good. If the winter was acting like an endless November I wouldn't need the studs to ride the trails. I sold my test pair to a local ice boater who used his bike to ride around on frozen lakes when he had left the boat offshore. Ice isn't the issue here, but cargo capacity, mud and water are. So is darkness.
Fenders and a rack are easy. Lights not so much. I'm really addicted to the power and limitless running time of the dynamo lights. Knobby tires make a hub dynamo a better choice. Since the entire evening commute takes place in the dark now, lights are not a luxury. For the short duration of the regular evening ride a battery light might be fine, but once I've made a technical-trail explorer it might as well have full night capability. Cha-ching! Honk! Honk! Honk! The unnecessary investment horn sounds. I've talked myself out of it...for now.