Last week's rain showers took away most of our town-level snow, which is great, because it means that dirt's back. I have a whole singletrack routine that I like to loop in the Mendenhall Valley, and now that I live out there, the ride doesn't involve the exhaust fumes and highway drudgery of a 20-mile-round-trip commute from Douglas. In fact, once I leave Fritz Cove Road and connect with the Auke Lake trail, I can ride for a few hours on different trails while hardly touching the hard stuff (pavement). Dirt in December. Sometimes I forget about all the little things I have to be thankful for.
Of course, December dirt isn't exactly like August dirt. Frosted and mud-free, it's actually both smoother and grippier than the summer stuff. Then there's the beaver floods. In the summer, they must be avoided at all costs lest you end up waist-deep in foul-smelling sludge with a seized-up bottom bracket. In the winter, they add a whole new level of fun ... on ice! Seriously, you haven't lived until you've connected a couple of studded tires with sheets of frozen floods, squealing like a 2-year-old girl while the thin veneer shatters like plate glass beneath your wheels.
Then, once you clear all those beaver floods you were never willing to splash through during the summer, you find a whole new network of singletrack that you've never ridden before, swooping through a maze of ice-encrusted branches that sparkle like diamonds in the low golden sun.
And cyclists don't like winter? Seriously, I just don't get it.