Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Downhill's the hard part

Date: Jan. 16
Mileage: 8.0
January mileage: 372.4
Temperature upon departure: 32

I did some trail riding today. Three inches of new power. Soft-packed stuff underneath. Snow coming down hard. Decent elevation gain. Lotsa walking. Eight miles in two hours. It's been a while since I've done such a physically demanding, technically challenging ride. My calves are still burning. Good stuff, those mountain snowmobile trails.

This one was dramatically rutted. Some of the moguls were taller than my wheels. Geoff explained to me how snowmobilers make these bumps - by intermittently gunning and then releasing their throttle rather than just giving it even gas like normal drivers. It seems a little selfish to me, especially on a multiuse trail - but what can you do? Interestingly, they were a little easier to ride up and over on moderate inclines than they were on flat stretches. I think forced momentum makes all the difference.

Eventually, the trail became too steep to ride at all uphill. Wearing only my winter boots and no snowshoes, I was postholing up to my shins with nearly every step. I believed there was no way Snaux Bike would be able to handle anything that soft. But when it came time to turn around, it seemed worth a try.

Snaux Bike not only handled it, it left me in its powder-blasted wake. We dipped and swerved down the slope, shooting off the trail here, placing a foot down there, never letting up the forward momentum. It was amazingly fun, and terrifying, and a little bit painful. I made one big mistake - after noticing a singletrack snowshoe trail out of the corner of my eye, I shot right off the main trail without even stopping to scout it. I made it about 50 yards down before planting my front wheel to its hubs in the soft snow. I lurched forward and tumbled over the handlebars, but not before taking a blunt blow of the stem right to the crotch. The pain was metallic, enough to send me into a fetal position on top of the trail before I even processed what had happened. I can't even imagine what that would feel like if I were male. I guess I'd probably still be on that trail, writhing in pain, mourning for the children I'd never have.

Despite a few setbacks, snowmobile biking is great and I recommend it highly to anyone who enjoys challenging, but not impossible, technical downhill. The consistency and depth of snow varies from inch to inch, making that kind of trailriding a lot like coasting down a muddy doubletrack littered with invisible rocks and roots. The joy is in getting the guesswork right. And the soft, snowy landings numb the pain of poor choices. Unless you get a little too intimate with your stem. Then I don't know what can save you.

11 comments:

  1. Anonymous3:17 AM

    I hurt just thinking about that fall! Like you said, at least the landing was soft and you had a comfortable place for the fetal position.

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  2. I didn't know this was also a porn blog. S & M with your bike - now that's hard core. Now instead of calling you "Jill," we'll have to start calling you "Kinky Jill."

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  3. Anonymous4:57 AM

    When I smash my dangly bits into the stem........I'm way more of a wuss then you are...

    ..I'm not afraid to curl up into a ball and cry for a few minutes:-)

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  4. Anonymous10:37 AM

    Glad the Snaux is working out for you :) With a little momentum from gravity those fat tires will go down almost anything.

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  5. What is a Snaux Bike? Sorry to ask, but I just don't know. I live in Central Florida and we don't get snow very often. We love your pictures. Thank you!

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  6. Anonymous12:07 PM

    mellan, if you go back in jill's archives and check out her post from december 5th, 2006 you will see her explanation of "snaux bike".

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  7. Anonymous1:09 PM

    I call them a FUPA shot.... FAT UPPER PEEPEE AREA

    Glad your Ok... I think the pain is pretty even for guys and gals

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  8. Anonymous1:25 PM

    What are you using for tires? Regular mtn bike rubber? Studs? Inquiring minds want to know.

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  9. JoeDell1:33 PM

    Most times when we (guys) take a big hit, there's just the normal pain that everyone feels after taking a big hit. The real pain, the kind that makes guys think their nuts just got sucked up into their body and the resulting nausea is just there to help them vomit their balls out usually come from a glancing blow. In fact, the non-direct hit scares me much more than a direct one.

    Anyone agree?

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  10. yeah, i agree with joedell. when i played baseball years ago i was mostly a catcher. it was never the foul ball that came up hard between my legs that got me but always the one that seemed to just "glance off" harmlessly... these were the ones that always seemed to cause the real harm. and in case anyone's thinking: "what about the protective cup that male athletes wear for this purpose," unfotunately this doesn't really eliminate the pain from getting hit just right, rather just more of a protection against permanent damage from a more serious blow.

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  11. Anonymous7:22 PM

    What would have happened if you were a guy? Well, you'd sound a bit like Geddy Lee! (Now you know the secret to his singing voice, the roadies give him a hard kick each time his voice starts to drop. He's secretly a Basso Profundo![kidding])

    Sounds like you had a great ride! Thanks for the good words over at my place!

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