Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas Riding in Michigan

Yankee Springs Trail Ride
Tuesday, Dec 25
16.4mi, 2:04hrs

Starting out on Yankee Springs MTB loopBack in Michigan with family for a week. Weather here is conducive for nothing. Not enough snow to ski on, too much snow to allow pleasant trail riding. After family lunch on Christmas day, I went to the site of my first trail ride ever, the Yankee Springs Recreation Area MTB loop. It is just over 12 miles long in fairly hilly (for Michigan) terrain. Along the lakeshore, the open areas were bare, devoid of snow. This was partly due to 70+ mph winds that swept them The Pines on Yankee Springs loopthat way, but also due to solar heating. Further inland, there was more snow, especially in the woods. There was 3-6" at Yankee Springs. But it was soft powder, having not yet gone through a thaw cycle. Control was very good, and most of the trail had not yet seen any users other than deer, coyote, and turkeys. I got to "carve" fresh powder. A couple of the steepest climbs required brief push-ups. It was a thoroughly satisfying ride and a fairly strenous workout.

Muskegon State Park Skate Ski
Wednesday, Dec 26
25km, less than 100m vert, 1:34hrs

Started coming down with a head cold. Happens every time I have a week of big volume planned. Picked it up on the plane? Sick relatives? Who knows. I had really wanted to ski 50km on the Vasa trail system way up by Traverse City today, but waking up feeling terrible with uncertain ski conditions suggested I wait for a better day. I was able to talk with a live person at the closer by Muskegon Sports Complex in the morning. She said conditions were good for skating. I kitted up and drove about an hour to get there. Cover was sparse. Starting out on the main path looked good, but as soon as I branched off on the 5km loop, conditions deteriorated. It was also ungroomed, icy, and rutted. Cover was 1" max to bare ground. I had to take my skis off several times to walk past extended bare areas. Outer portion of 5km loopWhen I got back down to the 2.5km loop, conditions were better and groomed, but the sandy patches on the 5km loop destroyed the wax on my skis. I had no glide left. The 2.5km loop is dead flat and more heavily shaded, thus holding what little snow was there better. I did 8 laps around the 2.5km loop. Mostly upper body work, as there was not enough texture to the trail to really push off against. Being sick, I didn't want to go any harder anyway.

Strange how things unfold. I MTB where there's lots of snow, ski where there's minimal snow. What's up with that? Turns out the recent snow dump was mostly inland, away from Lake Michigan. Inland is also where the best trail riding is. Since lake effect snow normally falls very close to the lake, most XC ski areas are by the lake.

Bass River Trail Ride
Thursday, Dec 27
11.0mi, 1:35hrs

Bass River MTB north loopNow with full-blown head cold, I had to take it easy today. With warm temps day before and now new snow anywhere, skiing was out of the question. I decided to hit nearby Bass River MTB tail, which is flat and non-technical. The full loop runs only about 5.5 miles. I rode it twice at recovery pace. There was 1-2" of slushy snow in the woods. Temp was >32F, so things were pretty greasy. Many riders had been through in last couple days, so the snow was packed down into a dense sloppy mess. Still good to get out away from traffic. There were more cars with empty bike racks at the trail head when I got back, but I encountered nobody on the trail. Plan is to take it easy one more day, then try to go for 50km ski on Saturday. Snow is in forecast for Friday. With maybe four ski races planned this winter, I really needed to get some quality skiing in over the break.

No comments: