Monday, January 26, 2009

Snow Bikin'

So how do you top off an excellent day on cross country skis? You hit the snow again the next day with wheels. I've been riding my winter beater bike, a Jamis Durango frame built up with odds and ends parts, exclusively for about six weeks now. I've had to replace the rear derailleur cable housing once already. Now I had to replace the whole rear derailleur. It seems the pivot spring (around the screw you bolt it to the hanger with) has disintegrated. I had a really old XTR derailleur in the junk drawer that I decommissioned long ago because it didn't work so well. It works way better than the toasted spring derailleur though.

While my beater bike was up on the stand Sunday, I took my singlespeed out for the first time this winter. It does not have studs. I had hoped to be hitting the Cape each weekend, but the northern half of the country has been in an ice age since early December. It hadn't snowed in a while, so I thought the snowmobile trails would be nicely set up. I drove up to Massabesic Lake to ride. To my horror, there was street parking only with hundreds of trucks with snowmobile trailers there. Hmmm, maybe this was going to be more dangerous than Mass Ave during rush hour.

I started out down the rail trail. The snowmobile clubs groom the trails for snow machines. They stay nicely planarized. You could probably skate ski them quite nicely. But every few minutes, marauding gangs of snowmobilers would come by. Most were cordial. A few knuckleheads would come by 2ft away at 70mph. I wonder how many were actually sober. I could tell there was no getting away from inhaling partially combusted gasoline and motor oil.

New Panasonic LX3 shot. Drastically reduced in pixels and compression from original, but viewed at 100% is still impressive.

I brought my new camera with me. It is a Panasonic LX3, a point and shoot that rivals SLR quality. It is pricey, not high pixel count, but super wide angle and 2x faster lens than most point and shoot cameras. It will be wicked nice for shots from Haleakala in two months. Not two miles into my ride, I hurled myself over the bars and landed hard on my back and camera. I think the camera survived. Shoulder was mighty achy today. It seems if you get too close to the edge of the groomed snowmobile trail, your front tire will punch through and just disappear, as in drop 2ft. Riding the middle of the trail was dicy with all the 50mph sleds going by and it was very soft there from being minced by track spikes.

By the FOMBA mountain biking trails, I caught up to a dog team. This wasn't one of the elite Iditarod Teams you might see training there, but a four dog, mixed breed set pulling a woman. I "drafted" them at about 12-15mph for a few minutes. I was working hard on the mushy surface. When we came to a small hill, I prepared to get dropped. You would expect this following any kind of gas guzzling machine. The operator just requests more kJ from his fossil fuel stores and over he goes. But you know what, dogs must be a lot like humans. They slowed down about as much as I did to get over the rise.

I did a ride over Tower Hill, then down the starting chute of the Watershed Wahoo MTB race course. There were very few snow machines there despite being ride by the Snow Slickers club house. I worked my way around Tower Hill Pond, even riding out to the middle of it on a packed snowmobile track to take some pictures.

Wrapping up, I took a short piece of paved road back to my car. This took me around the rotary just off Exit 1 on Rt 101. Some woman decided my life didn't count for much and exited the rotary as I was continuing around. I narrowly missed piling into her trunk by swerving bike right and counter-balancing my torsel over her trunk has the back of her car whizzed under me. I hadn't had to scream unpleasantries at a motorist in a long time. Customers at the nearby convenience store wondered what my problem was. So much for a pleasant off-road ride.

At least I got an amazing workout out of the ride. My quads were noodly when I finished. I rode 20 miles in about 2hrs, working very hard in mushy conditions most of the time. I suspect had I taken a geared bike, I would have capitulated and found back roads to ride. It would have been too easy to drop to the granny ring, only to not have enough momentum to keep going most of the time. I believe I have a 32x18 on the singlespeed right now, and at <10mph, it was a low cadence, high force workout. Exactly what I needed.


Mookie said...

What were you running 2.3s? The Nokians are terrible in stuff like that. The only "luck" I had was when I dropped down to like 25 psi. Any recommendations? Also, are you doing Washingtion? I don't know if I can justify $350 donation to Tin Mountain. I'll probably just do as many as I can of the others in the BUMPS series.

Hill Junkie said...

I'm still running the original Extreme's, 2.1" I think. With all the pavement I hit this winter, they are shot. I ran <30 lbs front and rear. Really need a Pugsley I think. My fear is if I invest in one, well get a snowless winter next year.

There's a good chance I may do the Tahoe 100 on August 15. That would rule out the August Mt W race. Still on fence for July. It has never sold out, so I have lots of time to think about it. I would also like to do Greylock again, but it is same weekend as the Iron Cross race in PA.

Luke S said...

I'll stick to the skiing thanks.