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Four of a Kind  //   Friday - January 28, 2005

Four trail rides in one week and they've all been in the snow. Man, that's good for the soul. What a way to get back in the game. Threw a curve-ball into the normal riding schedule and decided to head south after work on Tuesday and hook up with the MORE night ride at Rosaryville. Legal night riding in MD is rare, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to not worry about dodging the man and hit this ride up. It also is a great place for snow riding since the trails are rolling and most of the climbs are relatively mellow or short. More pedaling and less pushing is always good. Plus, I've only ridden there a couple of times so it was a nice change of pace.

Eight of us showed up, it was a full moon night but we barely saw it with the cloud cover. With temps around freezing things were pretty nice. Fun crew to ride with, I knew about half and we kept a nice steady pace. Wound up losing two riders, one to mechanical and one to the could. No, we didn't leave them for the wolves, they just pulled out early. The snow was deep and most of it untouched, which meant a good workout busting through it. Low tire pressure was the key. I had thrown the fixed cog on the Kelly and that was another big help, total control in the snow. Some people think you are crazy, but it does amazing things in these conditions.

The Wednesday night ride: different place, different conditions. After a bunch of cold days the temperatures shot up in the mid 40s and started melting things. Back in the woods, shaded and protected by hills and valleys, the trails stayed covered in snow. It just compressed and got dense and wet making it the consistency of a giant slurpee. Combined with the steeper, longer hills in Avalon, it made for a tougher ride. No matter, five us went out and had a blast. Most trails hadn't seen bike tracks which meant work, work, work. Things got cold again that night and are supposed to stay that way a bit, so I expect some nice icy stuff on the next ride. Think I'll hook the Surly up with the studded tires.

And speaking of studded tires, I was looking for the post I made last year about those. Here's a little blast from the past. Seems this time last year we had a lot of snow riding going on too. And just as strange was the bird posting I did back then, only one day off from this years date. Strange, since it's not like I'm posting a bunch of birds on here. And speaking of birds, looks like that picture below is a Coopers Hawk. Thanks to Glenn in St. Louis and Steve's brother Tom for the ID.

- riderx

Snow: Not just for kids  //   Monday - January 24, 2005

Predictions were for 6 - 12 inches of snow on Saturday starting sometime prior to noon. Other plans were initially forcing me to ride early when the day was going to be at it's coldest. Those plans got cancelled but I was set to meet another SS rider Dave who I was getting a fixed cog from for the Kelly, so early and cold it was. Jay and the Trossenator bailed on the ride but Bill dropped by anyway to hook me up with a sweet Gill jacket for my B-day. Their products kick ass and this is a light weight wind/waterproof unit that should be great come spring time.

So, with my own two riders out I head into the cold to meet Dave at 8:30. Surprised to see a few other riders at the trailhead for this hour and temperature. Only have to wait a few minutes for Dave and his crew to arrive. I tag along and they let me lead the way since this is my home trail. Never met these guys before but they are good riders, no attitudes and out to have fun so we have a great ride. Dave and Mike are running Surly singles and we later meet up with Tom who is also running SS. Jeff is on a full squish, but after his freezing gears he may be rethinking that set up. Trails still have snow on them from earlier in the week. It's been packed some and iced up in other places, but the ice has traction from tire tracks. Never feeling like I need the spiked tires on this ride, but I'm going to have to mount those up on the Surly soon.

Definitely cold though, 15F before the wind chill, fingers and toes get cold early. We get in a solid 2 hours and overall I'm feeling good. Fourth trail ride since last weeks go by the doctor, technical skills are feeling sharp, legs a bit weaker as mentioned previously, but still cranking up some tough steep hills, it's just that I know they aren't were I left them 2 months ago. That's OK, they'll be back soon. Consistency is the key.

Brought the camera but like many times forgot to dig it out of the pack. Rolled back to the house, snow is still falling, started during the last third of the ride, up the alley and spot a Coopers Hawk standing on top of a pigeon. Strange place to spot this and a wild bit of nature in my neighborhood. Remember I have the camera and snap a few quick picks. Turn to pack it away, then turn back and he is gone and so is his lunch. Update: I'd previously IDed this as a peregrine falcon, but people who know way more about this kind of stuff have tagged it as an immature Coopers Hawk.

The final snow tally for Sat. is around 6 inches, maybe a bit more. On Sunday we decide to break out the snowshoes and go pack some trail. Julie and I get out and hike in the park, lots of fun, especially when we hit the untouched stuff. See hikers and x-country skiers but no bikes. Not surprised, it would be lots of walking the hills at this point, things need a bit of a pack down. We do our part. It's cold and very windy, putting the wind chill in the single digits and sometimes below zero. Not bad when you are in the valleys but up on top it's howling. Overall a great work out, clear blue skies, fun day.

- riderx


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