Saturday, January 06, 2007

Snow's back

Date: Jan. 5
Mileage: 28.0
January mileage: 124.5
Temperature upon departure: 32

New snow today ... About nine inches of fresh, cement-thick Juneau powder when I woke up this morning. It was a friendly sight - after the successful castration last night of the Timberwolf tire, it was time to really see how deep this snowbike could go (sans knobbies, of course.)

I'm glad to report that the first experiment was a raging success. I was bummed to see that by the early hour of 11 a.m., the city had already plowed most of the bike paths. But the road shoulders, sidewalks and dirt trails were beautifully buried. Even at 20 psi (pretty high, really), I was able to plow straight lines through nearly all of it, from two-inch deep sections all the way up to nearly a foot. The sanded, slushy shoulders threw me a couple of times. I can't even imagine what life would be like on a truly big-wheeled bike. I probably should have just dropped for the Pugsley before I got entangled in Snaux bike. But he holds his own. And he leaves a decent footprint.

The air was pretty warm ... right around freezing, and every once in a while a pile of snow the size of my couch would come shooting down from the forested unknown. The sound was pretty spectacular. Almost enough to hear over my iPod. Almost. (OK. I admit it. Sometimes I turn it up pretty loud when I'm alone on a low-traffic trail.) Today, I actually turned it off for a while. Pillows of powder muffled the squeak of my tires enough to listen the snow melt in a symphony of drips. I had promised Geoff I'd meet him for skiing, and after about 2 1/2 hours, I realized that I wasn't going to be able to put that off any longer. By the time I switched over all my gear and staggered over to the trail, he had already skied a loop and decided the conditions were bad. But he skied another loop for my sake. We met a friend and looped the trail in a mildly indifferent shuffle combined with engaging conversation.

Skiing ... eh. I don't know. The trail was ungroomed and none of the skiers seemed to think it was a great day for the activity. Too warm ... too slippy ... still snowing but not sticking. And I thought biking was a picky activity ... that whole thing about needing something resembling a trail slanted at preferably less than a 45-degree angle. But give me that and a bike, and I'm going to at least make an effort to rip it up. Give me this and skis, and I am a timid puppy on a leash, restlessly toeing the line.