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