Saturday, October 28, 2006

mmm ... slippy

Date: Oct. 27
Total mileage: 41.3
October mileage: 373.6
Temperature upon departure: 38

That's it. Time to break out the studs.

Well, it's not quite that time of year yet. But it is approaching that time of year when nightly freeze-ups and a snowline down to 1,000 feet means it's not a great season to take the roadie up to a ski resort. But, like I said, snowline has crept down to 1,000 feet, and I love snow. I wanted to take some crunchy steps through the frosted grass and wrap my fingers around an dripping early-season snowball. So when I woke up to a blindingly clear morning, it seemed a no-brainer to ride up to EagleCrest. And I did get my feet on some snow. I also had the opportunity to do plenty of walking down the ice sheet that had once been a canyon road. 'Tis the season to keep roadie at sea level.

When we finally did hit the thaw during the descent, I amped up to 30 mph and received my annual lesson in the degrees of windchill. I've never learned the math, but I do know that my odometer screen begins to black out when the temperature drops into single digits. My odometer screen blacked out. I nearly did too, by the time I reached sea level with frozen tears still clinging to my face. 'Tis the season to dress in many layers. Why must I relearn this every year?

In all honesty, I am excited about this semblance of a cold snap. Last winter, I lived in a marginally more temperate climate, where the temperature actually varied by more than 5 degrees from week to week. This winter, I essentially live in the Pacific Northwest - Seattle, if you will, but take away 20 or so degrees Fahrenheit. Like Seattle, it doesn't snow all that much here. At least, it doesn't snow much on the sea-level population center. However, a healthy annual precipitation means that once you hit a certain elevation - terrain located almost solely on steep, foreboding mountainsides - it snows lots and lots and lots (and lots). So winter activity, I hear, is mainly a choice between freezing rain and avalanches.

I know. I have it soooooo tough. But I do think it's a unique situation that poses a lot of outdoor recreation challenges many people never think about. Challenges that I have yet to learn about. But I did get an important first lesson today - wet snow, overnight freeze, skinny tires and gravity are never a good combination. Now where did I stash those studs?