Friday, January 30, 2009

Following the Road the Plow Takes

It is inevitable that during some time of the winter, mountain biking comes to an end. I always hope for only a short time without, but sometimes, as mountain bikers we must look elsewhere to feel the wind on our face and get the satisfaction of a hard effort, all with giddy smiles. These feelings I do not often find in a spin class or on the trainer.

Looking out across the frozen iced over sea of snow, I knew the time had come. With temps rising close to 34, the plowed roads would be my safest choice, so as much as I love to ride up in the park, I decided to stay in suburbia. Art had just converted my sister's 1985 Team Fuji into a single-speed, and during the last few days, the new bar tape had been calling out to me for attention, so without hesitation, I grabbed the retro single-speed.

During the first few miles, I decided my gearing was too tedious and spun out. It was still set from my last hilly ride. I do not have the single-speed set up like a normal single-speed. It's what some refer to as a "dos". It has 2 chain ring and cog combinations of equal number of combined teeth and no derailleurs. So what I had to do to switch, was pull off the road and slide the rear wheel forward and manually change the gear combo. Thirty seconds and "viola", super soul rider is back up to speed and cruising with the taller gear.

Once I looked past the SUV's, dirty snow and piles of salt, it was quite nice to be out. I find the adventure of riding by myself to be energizing, and then throw in the discipline of one gear and I'm even more energized. I followed the road or wherever the snow and ice was not. Although much of my concentration was on avoiding potholes, cars and buses, I felt the wind on my face, and my heart pounded whenever I went uphill. I returned home sweaty like always, but with more energy than before. It was a good winter ride.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Ice Bike

With all the rain we had yesterday, I was a bit skeptical about riding when I received Marianne's email to ride. I had the afternoon off from work, and wanted to drop off some things at the park office, so I thought I would poke my head in and see how it was. What a surprise when I saw all the ice. The park employees were in the gardens taking pictures of the glittering branches and glazed plants. Driving straight into the sun, I had to stop the car to absorb all that I could see. It was spectacular.

Once dressed and ready to go, we were glad to still have our studded mountain bike tires on, because the ground was completely covered in shiny ice like a fancy french pastry. As we rode across the field trail, I couldn't help but smile with what my eyes could see. I could tell instantly that it was slippery, and I would need to be cautious with the brakes. I passed the odd green bamboo grove, which stood out against the winter palate, and they were all bowing down to me as if I were queen. Perhaps I was, riding on top of the ice like a super hero.

There were lots of ooh's and aah's mixed with yikes and uh-oh ...holy craps! Needless to say the trails were pretty tricky, so we opted for gentler grades. We got into a good groove climbing up to Pierson Ridge, but the way down was insane. Hunters trucks had made ruts combined with snow drifts and all iced and frozen solid. I managed to keep it upright, but Willy went down pretty hard. It was his first day with the studded tires, so maybe he needed to figure out his boundaries with them.

Overall it was a fantastic time, and quite unexpected. You never know exactly what you will get out in the woods, but sometimes the adventure of surprise is half the fun. Don't let the excuses keep you home. Get out and ride!