Sunday, February 06, 2011

Super Sunday

The first Sunday of February rolled around and it seemed prudent to continue my lifelong tradition of completely ignoring the Superbowl. After Beat and I went running at Blue Mountain yesterday, we determined the trail to be in excellent condition for travel of the wheeled variety. We've been so running-focused these past months that he hasn't had too many chances to really try out his Fatback. The Big Boring Game promised a whole afternoon of almost zero traffic on both roads and trails, so we set out for what we decided would be a "short" snow bike ride.

The lower mountain is still coated in ice, necessitating a spiked walk both up and down the first mile of road. Beat also took the opportunity to test out his Big Boots.

We felt relieved that Sunday's chosen mode of travel negated the city's promises of certain death on Blue Mountain. After all, bicycles are much safer than sleds.

Once we got past the glare ice, the trail continued to be intermittently icy and hard-packed. The tread and ski tracks left behind by snowmobiles had frozen into concrete-like ruts, making the riding surprisingly technical at times.

On the plus side, every open field was covered in rideable crust, making for fun diversions from the uphill grind.

The steady climb made us work hard for our miles, and Beat noted that we were consistently making slower time than we had during our run, when we not only lacked the advantage of wheels, but also were dragging ~20-pound sleds. Snow fell steadily throughout the day, and soon the ruts and divots were masked by an inch of fresh powder. I knew the descent was going to be equally slow and tough.

We made it seven miles up the road during our run yesterday, and wanted to see how much farther we could ride today. We passed mile marker 9 before the trail started to become too soft and punchy to ride more than a few yards at a time, about 3.5 hours, 2,500 feet of climbing and 15 miles total into the ride. So much for a short day. The ride down really was difficult — so many ruts and exposed ice that it really was impossible to just let go and coast. Sort of like riding a rocky road where the rocks are covered in really slick mud. But we took it slow and relished in the technical challenge, keeping the spikes on our boots just in case we had to bail.

But it is fun to be way up in the mountains on a snowy February afternoon when most people are stuck inside, gorging themselves with beer and nachos to stave off the pounding boredom that is professional football. I feel bad they had to miss out, but grateful for the silence that allowed me to really enjoy the crunch of fat tires on snow.

And, for comparison's sake, here are the numbers from the Garmin GPS. Running versus snow biking up Blue Mountain:
Saturday Sled Run
Sunday Snow Ride

8 comments:

  1. I can't believe you guys can ride in those boots! I think I'd even be annoyed by those triangle packs that you attach within the frame. But I really would like to live in an area with enough snow to warrant a snow bike. That looks like a blast...keep sending pics so the rest of us can enjoy it vicariously.

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  2. Excellent Super Bowl Sunday!

    I like the Super Bowl. It means the ski resorts empty out like a ghost town, leaving the mountain for me and a few others who don't watch it.

    The bikes/tires are great.

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  3. Haha, I'm with mtnrunner, I totally spent the entire day at Breckenridge yesterday, and didn't spend not 30 seconds waiting on a lift line the whole day! So friggin great! And a lot saner than these photos, you guys are crazy! (in an awesome kind of way) :-)

    --Mark

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  4. Betsy8:42 AM

    Super Bowl Sunday Sunday is what dvr's are made for. Ski all day, or bike, or run, or whatever outside, no crowds. Heck even the grocery store is empty and on the ride down from skiing we could stock up on groceries like it was middle of the day in the middle of the week. Then watch the game, which is actually just 4 quarters of 15 minutes each so the fast forward button comes in mighty handy. And it WAS an exciting game, right up to the finish. Good day all around and we enjoyed the best of both worlds. I love Super Bowl Sunday!

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  5. Awesome, Betsy. Sounds like the best of both worlds! I was invited to a Super Bowl party and got a bit of grief when I said I was probably going to go biking instead. But I really am one of those people who would rather sit in a dark room listening to white noise than watch the whole Super Bowl production. That doesn't mean I don't appreciate that others glean a lot of enjoyment from it.

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  6. I hope you at least looked up the Passat/Star Wars commercial - it was the highlight of my evening!

    I was more than happy to gorge on someone else's superbowl party food after a run that afternoon, but I really couldn't pay attention to the game. Looks like you two had fun though :)

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  7. I didn't get out during the Superbowl because of my caregiving duties at the moment. But I have learned to get out on the snowmobile trails on my Pugsley during the NFL season while the Packers or Vikings are playing. The trials empty out during those regional games.

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  8. Anonymous2:12 PM

    I, too, am an anti-Superbowl kind of person... My intention was to go either for a road bike ride (haven't had snow in Central Oregon for seven weeks now) or for a nice swim, but this dang cold is retaining its hold, so a quiet afternoon on the couch crocheting will have to do.

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