Friday, December 27, 2013

P2P Ride

You've probably heard of the Brewery to Brewery ride in New England, but I have a Pier to Pier ride in west Michigan I like to do. It follows about seven miles of pristine Lake Michigan shoreline from the Holland pier to the Saugatuck pier. It is hit or miss whether I can ride it over the holiday break with 2" studded tires. Sometimes it hasn't been cold enough to freeze up. Other times the snow is way too deep. A couple of times it was perfect: sand, buffed smooth by waves, frozen solid with no snow, rides like pavement. Today was a mixed bag.

We've gotten several inches more snow since I checked the beach out a few days ago.  We've also had high winds, which tend to sweep the snow off the beach. Wind can pile ice up on the beach too. What was there today was a bit of everything: glare ice, loose sand, deep snow, and slabs of ice. The chunky ice was particularly challenging. Have you ridden talus out west? Try riding talus made out of ice. Tires go where they want.

A fat bike would have faired a little better in some spots. Studs were extremely helpful. I still managed to hit the deck once while riding. My hardest crash was when I stopped to take a photo. The beach sloped steeply to the water with snow covering shiny ice. I was bouncing off my ass before I could even react. Oh yeah, that made my glutes tenderized from 72km of skiing the previous two days feel great.

I backtracked halfway to Holland along the beach to a public access point at Laketown Park. The stairs on beach side of dune were useable, but not the back side which was several feet deep snow. I bushwhacked, then realized that layer of ice was under thick snow pack. It occurred to me I could trigger a slide and go for a ride. I chose to slide on my ass with bike down a portion of the dune.

Even the roads and bike paths to and from the beach were pretty tough riding. Towns here don't bother bringing the plows out for just a few inches of new snow. I was riding on snow and ice about 98% of the time.  I finished with 20.5mi in 2.7hrs moving time. Pretty decent ride, a few short hike-a-bike sections, but hardly a recovery ride my body really needed.

Big Red lighthouse on Holland pier. Even scored first tracks.

Ice piled up far out into the lake.

Looking north along beach. Sun peeking through perma-gloom.

Near Saugatuck looking north.

Saugatuck pier.

This photo cost me a wipeout.

Part way up sand dune at Laketown Park.


Bill said...

I can feel your pain with the snow covered ice, I hit the deck, right to my left butt cheek on Riga yesterday, nothing like off camber ice covered with a few inches of snow.

Steve G. said...

Golf course was great for skating the past 2 days. Now its raining and will be a huge skate rink by the AM.