Saturday, January 22, 2005

Snow Ride!

Each year we get 1 or 2 snow mountain bike rides. Usually the snow is pretty deep and tough to ride. Thus, we end up doing as much running as we do riding.

Well, this year the conditions were just about perfect. Earlier in the week we got about 3 inches of snow followed by very cold temps. Enough riders got out toward the end of the week to pack down a nice path along the trails. The kicker is that the forecast for this morning called for a big snow storm to begin around 10am.

This allowed us to ride a traction-rich layer of snow in the middle of a snow storm. That doesn't happen very often & it sure is fun!

We started out just before 9am under cloudy skies and 19 degrees fahrenheit...chilly. The crew was Me, Bernie, Sean, Morgan, and Dan. We ran into Brian out on the trail and he hooked onto our group for most of the ride.

The snow had good traction, but was just slippery enough to make it interesting. The main challenge was the cold. Derailleurs and rims were freezing very quickly. The ideal bike for such a ride would be a singlespeed with disc brakes.
I had the singlespeed, but my rim brakes were useless after creek crossings.

Snow Ride - single speed steed

After a high speed crash into a tree when my brakes decided to stop working I decided to walk the rest of the creeks and keep my rims dry, and ice free! That did the trick and the rest of the ride was a lot less stressful with working brakes. 8-)

Heading up the cascade falls trail I stopped to take a photo of the mostly frozen waterfall.

Snow Ride - frozen waterfall

We covered a lot of ground over the course of 4 hours and everyone had multiple snow & ice related crashes, except for Sean, who managed to keep Yellow Bike upright the entire ride! Bernie was the tough guy of the day, riding his 'cross bike over tough terrain in extreme conditions. Don't pick a fight with that guy! Morgan's bike was an ice-magnet & by the end his rear wheel was barely turning due to the ice build-up. Dan was the only one with disc brakes, but that didn't keep him from crashing...once trying to ride a newly fallen tree with a big drop on the back side & the others due to tires that had almost no lateral traction on the slippery stuff. After 3 pretty jarring crashes my saddle came loose, but we tightened it back up even though we didn't have the right size allen key. Yes, there was carnage & plenty of bruises, but I think we all came out ok.

Snow Ride - snow stripe head smile

For much of the ride the snow was coming down quite heavily. In the photo above, you can see the snow stripes on my fleece cap where the snow collected through my helmet vents.

On the drive home the roads were really bad. At the Russell St. exit off of 95 a tractor trailer had slid out and was blocking all but one lane. I had the 4 wheel drive engaged, but I still took my time. My bike was encased in ice and slush by the time I got home.

Snow Ride - ice build-up

We ended up with about 6 inches of snow, so the trails are probably not all that ridable today. I'll avoid more bruises and ride the trainer today.

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