Friday, November 07, 2008

Why winter is more fun

Date: Nov. 7
Mileage: 37.0
November mileage: 227.2

Friday, again. Time to put in my long day for the week. I promised myself I'd ride hard up to Eaglecrest, push my bike for a while, and if the snow was good, spend the rest of the day playing. Six hours of daylight between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., every one used well.

The weather was fabulous - 40 degrees, fog and snow flurries at sea level. But at 3,000 feet, temperatures were in the high 20s and skies were clearing. The thin snowpack has had a steady diet of rain over the past few days, and in its refrozen condition was in great shape for biking. The road itself was pretty chewed up by a SnowCat, but I could ride right on top of the frozen muskeg. I spent some time pushing my bike and descending (you know, carving turns) at midmountain before I ditched the bike and headed high. The clouds started to clear just as I was approaching the upper elevations. Most of these photos are from my long walk along the ridgeline.

The snow was still in great condition on the ridge - hardpacked and smooth. I only sank in a few inches on my feet. I should have dragged my bike up there. It would probably be a little like riding sand-dusted slickrock.

Some trees have harder lives than others.

Clouds still hovered low over every ridgeline but mine.

There was amazingly almost no wind up high, rare for a winter day. Even rarer in late fall. I stopped at this spot and ate a Hershey bar. You know what's even better than sitting in the sun, soaking up its warmth and eating chocolate? Earning it.

Back down the ridge, looking for a way to this peak. I have to be really careful with my winter hiking because I'm still traveling without an ice ax and crampons (I really must buy some), and in the shade the snow was as hard and slippery as ice. I couldn't go anywhere where a fall would be disastrous, and I couldn't find a way to the peak.

Oh well. I'll just make up my own peak, like Dr. Cook's famed "first ascent" of Mount Denali.

Back down after several hours, realizing that I may just run out of daylight before I get any more riding in.

Cool clouds on the horizon.

Coming down was amazing fun. This is the "slickrock" muskeg that I was riding at mid-mountain. I cut off the road when it started to get sloppy and weaved through a few trees before emerging in the open. I saw a group of young skiers and snowboarders walking up the road. When they saw me coming, they started yelling, "Hey, biker! Yeah biker!" The terrain started to get a little sketchy, but I didn't want to lose face. I let off the brakes and slalomed through a shallow gully, punching through a small berm and shooting onto the bare gravel of the road just below them. I kept accelerating down the road as they cheered me on. I felt great about having actually survived the move and even better about the brilliant way in which I showcased my unique form of snowriding. I am Downhill Snowbiker.

I love winter.

17 comments:

  1. I just realized that you live in snow all the time! I'm not a snow fan. We got hit big time a few days ago, and I was so sad. I lack adventure.

    ReplyDelete
  2. My daughter Karsen just saw these images and is wondering why we live in North Carolina, so do I. Your blog is like looking out of a window into a wild landscape, thank you.
    Billy Fehr
    Charlotte NC
    The Jar.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Absolutely amazing pictures!
    I just enjoy reading and looking at your blog every day!
    Keep up the good work.

    ReplyDelete
  4. great post, jill.

    "downhill snowbiker"

    that's good stuff!

    ReplyDelete
  5. avalanches are scary. watch out.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Aaron9:06 AM

    If I were one of those snowboarders, I would have cheered you too! My fav snowbiking comes in late winter, early in the morning on slightly melted then re-frozen cross country ski trails, ice crystals flying from my tires, glistening breifly in sunshine before stinging my face. I've not had the chance yet to try downhill snowbiking, but I will have to now.
    You're too much Jill! Thanks for the inspiration.

    ReplyDelete
  7. You sure sound like an Alaskan there Jill. I didn't see anywhere in those pics I'd want to take a bike! Beauty pics tho.

    ReplyDelete
  8. vw Dave10:29 AM

    Wow Jill, WONDERFUL photos and a fun post to boot! Glad to hear you had a nice time up there snowbiking in the mountains. It does the body/mind good doesn't it?
    Thanks again for sharing with us. Whadda treat.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hey Jill,

    Check out the post. You're invited. Maybe a good break from things before the serious training.

    http://50kloopns.blogspot.com/2008/11/081108.html

    -B

    ReplyDelete
  10. Anonymous6:07 PM

    Now you see what it is like in SouthCentral.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Downhill snowbiker... could be the next Olympic sport. I mean they made curling and trampoline tricks a sport... it could happen. You'll have to think of some rules and techniques though.

    I love it... "Some trees have harder lives than others". I am still laughing! Poor tree!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Amazing Jill!

    I probably would have wiped out amidst the cheers of those young skiers and boarders.

    ReplyDelete
  13. You blog is awesome. And so are you.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Sounds like so much fun....sounds cold, but still fun. Love the pictures too.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Go downhill snowbiker, go! Winter rocks.

    ReplyDelete