Thursday, December 06, 2007

snow ride!

One of my unwavering cycling principles is to take advantage of good snow riding conditions on the rare times that they are available.

There's something sublime about a snow ride. A fresh layer of snow produces unique aural qualities. Sound is muffled lending a calming quiet to an already quiet endeavor...that being a night/early morning mountain bike ride. It's a beautiful thing.

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Similarly, rough edges on the trail are smoothed out by the snow giving the woods a softer feeling and sometimes hiding slick roots beneath. Local knowledge, softer tires, and a light touch are important. The bike will go where it wants to go. It's best not to fight it.

Four intrepid riders (Me, KR, Merrill, & W) gathered at Kasa de Krash for hot coffee prior to setting out into the frigid sub-20 degree air at the ass-crack-of-dawn (5:45am). Spirits were high as we had received confirmation of primo snow riding conditions on the trails.

We plowed through powder laying fresh tracks in Rockburn. There was a solid 5 inches covering Sunday's 'cross course. I imagine we'll be racing on a soft, slippery surface (if not any remnants of snow) this weekend. Should be fun!

Snow riding also requires more power and effort. It's not unlike riding in sand or mud. Push a big gear and maintain a steady power output. So, by the time we crossed Landing Rd. we were sweating and breathing hard.

Some buddies of mine had done a ride last night so once in Patapsco we had a nice track to follow. Since those guys had done the trail-breaking we were able to roll along smoothly so long as we stayed in the narrow lane of our predecessors.

Traction was pretty good, though it got slippery at times. I think we all laid it down in the snow at least once. Another benefit of fresh snow is that it softens the landings. 8-)

Creek crossing were taken with care and I think we all stayed dry and thankful for disc brakes. The good old days of v-brakes trying to slow an ice-covered rim were exciting, if not very safe.

The downhills were a blast as the bike would slip here and there. Brakes were working just well enough to scrub a little speed but body english was a better way to control the bike. It almost felt like powder skiing. You felt mostly in control as long as you let the bike do its thing.

Early in the ride we had a clear sky with stars and a stunning crescent moon casting a magical glow that reflected off of the smooth coating of snow. As the sun rose we were treated to some amazing views, especially as we rode out of the trees through clearings. The just-hatched light beaming from a blue sky onto fields of white was
stunning.

Though tired from the effort of pedaling through fresh snow I felt refreshed, even renewed, as the ride ended. In fact, I'm still smiling now.

The rest of the crew stayed in Rockburn for some loops on the 'cross course while I rode home to make it to work. I was late, but it was so worth it. Rides like that are what it's all about.

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3 comments:

Jonathan said...

dude, you have to call me for rides like that!
I live for snow rides!

Chris said...

Even 5:45am snow rides? I'll keep you in the loop next time!

Jim said...

It was exceptional Wednesday night - there was enough moonlight we turned out the lights and rolled in the dark. Check out the photos on Jon Seibold's / Family Bikes Blog - you were riding in our tracks I think.

See you tomorrow.