Monday, February 8, 2010

Slow Rides & First Tracks

Lying in a frozen creek with a broken hip on an 8 degree Sunday morning is not how I plan to leave this world. After snapping a few pictures with the sun glinting off the snow covered trees, I turned around when I realized the rushing melt water was flowing over a layer of ice in the normally easily crossable creek at East Fork. I remembered when I used to try to ride across hockey rinks in Madison, Wisconsin. That was 13 years ago, before I read “Between a Rock and a Hardplace.” I did have a cell phone, but between riding solo and figuring a cell phone could easily get swept away from my jacket pocket during a fall, I saw no reason to risk an Aron Ralston by attempting the fjord to the technical trail.

At first I was bummed that others didn’t show. On Friday there was some chest thumping on the Ohio MTB forum about weekend snow riding possibilities. The way I figured it, at least I wouldn’t have to wheeze like a donkey trying to keep up with the guys on the front this time. Besides, one of my buddies only has a cross bike. Seeing that I could barely get through in granny gear, a bike with only a 42t chainring would have some issues. 2-3 inches of grainy powder covered about an inch to inch and a half of frozen slush in most places on the trail. Riding with Notyounano, my Ipod, was fine with me. As I shuffled down the trail, it shuffled through a mix of Foo Fighters, Rage Against the Machine, Metallica and the errant Katy Perry and Ting Tings song.

Riding solo, you get washed in your thoughts, almost like a running conversation with yourself. I thought about how 8 degrees really feels no colder than 15-18. However, it wasn’t until I got back and saw the temperature in my car read 22, I realized it had likely warmed from 8 to 16 degrees as the sun touched the snow painted trees. Countless winter spin classes had a good impact on my pedal stroke. I turned perfect granny gear circles to keep my tire from spinning out on the frozen slush under the snow. I looked around for good photo ops. I looked at the time and laughed. The easier trail loops I could normally ride in 15-20 minutes in the big ring, were now taking 30-40 using the small ring in four inches of fresh snow. There’s certainly something to be said for the slow ride and first tracks.

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