If you are looking to have a great time on your bike, or looking to increase your bike handling skills, then you should really consider riding your bike in the snow as much as you can. Winters are long in some parts of the world, so instead of spending that time off your bike, slowly loosing your bike legs, you can spend it honing your craft, and having fun.
It doesn’t require anything special. The bike you already have is already up for the task. You don’t need a four inch tire snow bike, like the Pugsley, and you don’t need studded tires (though I do recommend them for riding on solid ice, it is best just to avoid the ice as much as possible), your regular knobbies will do you just as well. Go find a snow covered surface, anywhere you feel safe, like, not on the highway! Go practice drifting corners, let both tires get loose. Go practice climbing hills (can’t be to steep, but if its cold enough you’ll be surprised at the traction that you can have), learn the nuances of your wight distribution and balance. Find a steep slippery and soft hill, and learn how to ski on your bike. Snow banks make amazing obstacles. Jump them, high-mark them, ride over them, and you’ll learn some sweet technical riding skills. If you can find some sweet singletrack in the snow and put it all together.
There has probably been no better training in my life as a mountain bike rider than the lessons I have been taught while everything around me was covered in snow. Muddy will no longer be so sloppy, loose rock and dust starts to feel like hardpack, and you will never panic again the next time one, or both, of your tires break free in a gnarly corner!
And since all this learning can be done in somewhat soft conditions, you can even practice your crashing skills without getting too hurt! Don’t be afraid. Learn how to ride like a pro! Bike season just became a whole lot longer.