Sunday, January 16, 2011

Mid Cape Conditions

Along Little Cliff Pond, Nickerson State Park.
Hard to believe there is 16" of snow in my yard 2hrs away.

Saturday's ski left me feeling pretty wrecked on Sunday. I was still intent on riding though. I had only gotten one short ride in so far this week with any intensity. I had planned to ride three hours locally on Sunday, but wouldn't you know it, we received a dusting of snow over night. That made the roads a mess. I was hoping to ride some back dirt roads, but a dusting of snow can render studded tires useless on the ice underneath. A straight up road ride was out of the question. Besides messy roads, the snow banks are higher than cars around here. Cars have to pull half way out into the road to see if anything is coming. Guess who they'll see last? That skinny dude in spandex riding on the edge of the road!

Stewing in sorrow Sunday morning, I was perusing the MTB forums to see if anybody was riding anything off-road. I thought P(trail_ride)<0.001 given how much snow there was everywhere. But somebody out on the Cape said mid-Cape conditions weren't too bad. Hmm, I've gotten suckered by info from the web before. I was jones'n to ride, so I kitted up headed down to Nickerson State Park in Brester.

Snow depth dropped quite a bit south of Boston, maybe half what we have at the house. There was clearly still too much snow crossing over the Sagamore Bridge to ride ToT or Otis. However, by Exit 7, some bare Earth was starting to show here and there. I thought about stopping there to ride the Willow Street trails, but that is a pretty small place. I stayed to plan and headed almost all the way east on the Cape to Nickerson State Park. I've never been there before.  To my dismay, it almost looked like there was more snow there than four exits back at Willow St.

I parked off Joe Long Rd and began riding south along a paved park path. It sucked. It was 3-4" deep chunky, foot traffic pock marked crud. In my tired state, I had no motivation for the hills. I thought to myself "I drove two hours for this!?" There were no bike tracks to be found. I assumed I'd been had by the web again.  I covered about 2 miles in the first 30 minutes.

Cliff Pond

The shady side of Cliff Pond

Then I spotted bike tracks heading into singletrack. I followed.  A pair of tracks merged into another trail, and suddenly, there were numerous bike tracks. This was more like it! Not only did the traffic pack things down nicely, there was almost no snow to pack under the heavy evergreen canopy. This became good riding.

Typical singletrack conditions

Another rare instance where tires touched dirt

The terrain in Nickerson is surprisingly hilly. The trails are buff. Throw crusty snow into the mix, it keeps your speed honest. Only a couple very brief instances did grade exceed traction, forcing dismounts. It was great to have the tracks to follow, as I would never have been able to piece together that much singletrack without backtracking or missing sections altogether. The first photo of this post was an anomaly. Better than 99% of the time, I was riding on snow.

A lot of singletrack was ridden at Nickerson

I never saw another rider. Saw skiers, walkers and equestrians though. I bet locals don't get to ski that far out on the Cape very often. I finished my loop of the park with 20 miles, 2:50 hours and 1900 feet of climbing on the Garmin. I got my fix. I was fully satiated. Conditions were not what I typically go to the Cape for, but the Cape came through for me no less.

1 comment:

klwade said...

I love Nickerson! My daughter and I camped there last year, brought our road bikes and made Nickerson our base from which all our adventures began. At first we ignored the bike trails and stuck to the roads, but eventually we explored the paved trails and were amazed at how great they were! After that we hopped on the bike trails for traveling through the park to get to our destinations. Like you, we found the park surprisingly hilly, and the trails were situated in such a way that it was like riding a roller-coaster! What a blast! And on the positive side, the trails seemed to be scarcely used while we were there (early July) so we could really fly on them. It was a great vaca, and we plan to go back this year for more of the same. By the way, I'd never been to Provincetown, so had no idea it was that hilly - big rollers, one after another, after another - all the way from Wellfleet to Provincetown. It was a memorable day! My daughter bonked (I TOLD her to get more calories into her tank earlier in the day, but she didn't want to, despite our stops for lunch and extras.) Anyway, crying like a little girl, she managed to make it back to the entrance of Nickerson before collapsing on a picnic table in the parking lot by the entrance to the Cape Cod Rail Trail. I flew back to camp (another 7 miles in)to get the car. Gathered her and her bike up and immediately headed out for food, despite her whining that food wasn't the problem; she felt sick. Drastically sick. Maybe needing to go to the hospital sick. Huh. Turns out she felt much, much, much better once she had some food in her belly! Duh. Anyway, moral to the story: never underestimate the (unlooked-for, and unplanned-for) hills in Truro if you are biking a round-trip to Provincetown from Nickerson!!! A few days later my daughter was eager for more, but THAT day she wanted to throw her bike away (gasp!!)

Lest you wonder if we are flat-landers, let me assure you that we live and ride among the tall hills of the Berkshires and Eastern New York. Not that the hills in Truro are quite as tall, but they are lo-o-o-ong hills of maybe 6-12% grades (I'm guessing here, based on memory.) Not killer hills, but they definitely require effort, particularly since it seems they never stop almost the whole way to Provincetown!! And you do it up and then back again. I thought they were great fun, but my daughter was of another mind on the matter!