Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The New Year brought winter with it

Sure 'nuff, the first day of the new year it started getting colder and snow started falling.  It was fairly warm on morning of the first, and just got colder and wetter all day.  By evening there was an inch or so of snow on the ground and it really felt like the season had changed.

With the New Year holiday I had another four day weekend.  I spent some time working on Diana and Kenny's bikes, as well as taking care of the post-holiday mess.  On Saturday I took the new bike out to West Branch, though I knew with a 99% certainty that the trails were too wet.  But the weather was above freezing and I wanted to ride, so I headed out.

I parked out by the trail head for Quarry Trail.  Before I got ready to ride I walked up into the old quarry and looked around.  I love seeing all those big ol' rocks sticking out of the ground, just like they're inviting you to build a trail there.  After heading back to the car I geared up, got the bike ready and headed on down the road.

Part of one of the roads, Cable Line, was blocked off when the reservoir was made and forms the backbone of the mountain bike trail system.  I rode down the dead end and onto the abandoned section of the road.  The asphalt here has deteriorated to a narrow ribbon in the center, broken in areas where the gravel base beneath shows through.  The new bike felt nice across the rough terrain, easy to pedal and shifting fast.  At the spot where the gorge trail leaves the road I pedaled on up into the pines, following the singletrack into the woods.  This is probably my favorite trail at the park and it almost broke my heart to see that it was too wet to ride.  Some of the tread was okay, but half of it wasn't - so within the first hundred feet I got off the bike and walked it back through the woods to the old road.

Notice my hand stitched chain stay guard?

So there was no singletrack on the ride.  I followed the old road up to the other gate, and past - to where the road is  closed for construction.  It was good to be able to ride some hills and not be any more out of breath than I'd expect, and the broken pavement in some places was fun.  But I'm dyin' to be out on the dirt and old Ma Nature just isn't cooperating.

Dave and I headed out for a cruise down to Beaver Creek on Sunday.  There had been rain off and on in the morning, but the radar showed that it had been pretty spotty down in that area.  So I packed up the bike and gear, along with a saw and gloves, and made our way south.  The weather was constantly changing - sunny one minute, then raining and with fairly heavy winds kicking up on occasion.  After taking a look at the dirt on the trail at the top we headed down to the creek end and parked there.  I geared up, packed rain gear and extra clothes in my pack and headed on down the trail in spotty sunshine.  Ten minutes later it started sprinkling, which quickly built up into a downpour.  The trail down near the creek was in passable condition, with only a few stretches that were soft.  As the wind started driving the rain I made my way through the pine woods on solid, pine needle covered singletrack.  But as I got to the switchback and started climbing the trail conditions quickly deteriorated, with poorly draining sections that had the consistency of oatmeal.  It wasn't worth damaging the trail to get in a little more riding time, so I turned around and headed back.  The rain blew over as I approached the end of the trail, and the sun came out to create a spectacular rainbow above the creek.  It might not have been a perfect ride, but it was certainly another experience to remember.

Rainbow over Beaver Creek

  On Monday we woke up to three inches of snow.  Kenny and I both had the day off, so I dragged him out to Eagle Creek for a hike through the snow.  This is the way to treat the onset of winter - get out in it and embrace the change.  We had a nice walk through the woods, with Kenny learning to use his new camera.

It was beautiful in the snow.  The marsh was just starting to freeze over, with a thin layer of ice in the shallows.  There were a few birds out but it was quiet, with the background sound of the wind in the trees.  Light snowfall in the woods partially covered the undergrowth, but the ground pines and wintergreen still poked through in spots.

Even though the trails there are off limits to bikes I couldn't help but notice the conditions - light snow over unfrozen wet earth.  Even with the snowfall there still weren't conditions suitable for a cross country ride.  Will the snow get too deep before the ground freezes?  That is the question on my mind.

Kenny, Diana and I stayed up till midnight for New Years eve.  That's not the big excitement that some people expect for the holidays, but it's plenty good enough for me.  I have hopes that 2012 will be a better year than 2011.  Here's hoping that the economy looks up in our area and that everyone stays healthy.  Personally I plan on continuing to keep a close eye on my calorie intake so that I can drive my weight down a bit more, get regular exercise on either the bike, the trainer or the weight machine, and be more active in maintaining the bikes (and also avoid injury).

Good luck in the New Year to all.

No comments:

Post a Comment