Monday, January 12, 2009

A line in the sand (err snow)

So many possible titles for this and so little time. Yesterday was finally time to draw a line in the snow and show someone who's boss. That particular someone is our favorite trail we love to hate because it acts like a rebellious teen during the winter- Denman's. This year and last as soon as it was decently rideable we got ice on the trails and they pretty much become impossible to ride. That's been the case for over a month now.

I was fed up with not being able to ride since the trails had been basically a sheet of glare ice. The 6" of snow we received Saturday gave me some hope. Apparently, nobody else shared my optimism though as Sunday rolled around to find me heading out for some solo miles. I knew I was in for a treat when just riding the paved levee trail from Railroad brought me down into the little ring. I slowly made my way to the back entrance while wistfully looking at the cross country ski tracks paralleling the trail. All good so far. I dropped off the trail down towards the entrance. Glare ice under 6" of snow does not make a rideable surface when it's on any type of slant! I quickly realized this as I slid and crawled my way past the culvert to the edge of the woods. I was determined one of us was going to cry uncle and give up the ghost today.

Exit from Denmans to Dirty Express (I rode backwards)

I finally started crawling my way through the woods. Resistance and stability were the game today. Little ring up front and damn near the granny in the back as I spun along at 3-5 MPH for the most part. In the spots where I was riding just the snow, it was great. However, there were a ton of spots where it was still crunchy and chunky underneath along with the icy layer. Those spots really drug on. I quickly mastered getting a push off and jamming on the pedals to keep my momentum going to start back up after I'd ground to a stop. That is to say, I was stopped on a pretty regular basis. One of the bigger problems I had was out in the flats where the trail and surrounding forest floor were equally coated. I couldn't pick out the line and managed to get off course a few times.

Blank slate, which way to go?

Sometimes it was a bit more obvious where to go.

You could take a run at most little pitches, but ended up walking them anyway.

Hike a bike was pretty regular today.

The skinny is looking a bit lonely.

Happy camper out on the trail.

I kept upright more often than not though I did have a couple ugly spots. I fell over in one spot and caught my lower leg between a log and the bike. That one will definitely leave a mark for a bit. Other than that, the worst spot on the whole trail was the gully crossing just before you get to Little Italy (if you're riding forward). The ice jam backup a couple weeks back pushed chunks up in this area and left some on the downhill slope. I fell on my face several times trying to crawl up it and push my bike up as well. Add in that there are decent sized holes in between the chunks and it's all covered in 6" of snow and it's a recipe for crashing and broken ankles. Be careful!

Finally, I rolled to the end of the trail. Almost an hour down to get from one end to the other, but I made it and was still smiling. Not to mention I captured one of my favorite shots.


The ass-kickin' machine.

Damn that was fun?!

I crab walked my way up to the top of the levee and found the worst trail conditions yet! I gave up and walked the last 50 or so yards out to Valley Drive as I rolled over to Squirrel's place for a quick warm up. He was just getting ready to head out for some gravelly goodness so we rolled down Railroad together.

I hear his knee was bugging him from running the other day so he had to bail on the ride. That sucks! Get some rest and ibuprofen on it man and hit it hard later this week. Sounds like we're in for some wild weather again.

All in all (not calculating today's snow), I'd say Denman's is rideable, but you're going to have to walk a decent amount and work on your handling like crazy. I have my computer set to not record any movement under 2.5 MPH and stopped to try and rest it half-way through yesterday since it was not recording in a number of spots. I was actually still riding those spots, but moving that slow! I think if we got about a half dozen or so more tracks through there it would created a packed track with a lot more traction. However, getting those tracks through there will probably suck mostly beyond belief. Hope to see some guys out there soon. Oh ya, I know I was off course a few times so feel free to ignore my line in those spots.


Brian said...

Good job blazin' the trail!

Courtney said...

I started from the front and only made it 50 feet or so yesterday but you have a studded tire advantage I could barely get on my bike with the glare ice under the snow