Indulge me for a moment as we take care of a couple of local business items, then we can talk about some riding:
This weekend, a new local race at some great, tough trails: The Michaux Mash is going off. Should be a good time and it supports junior racing development. If you don't have anything going on, think about heading out there. If you like rocky, technical riding you will love Michaux.
As many local riders know, crossing under Rt. 15 by bicycle in the City of Frederick is not the easiest task for many cyclists given the route choices, traffic, zero bike lanes and non-existent shoulders on the roads. There is an approved project underway to put a bicycle/pedestrian tunnel under Rt. 15 in the Rosemont Ave. area that would connect Carroll Creek and Rock Creek parks and solve just this problem. Of course, as always funding is an issue and bicycle projects like this seem to generally fall low on the priority list.
Part of the Federal Stimulus package is going towards the Transportation Enhancement funds. The City is hoping to make use of these funds to get this project completed. At WABA's web site you can see general info about these funds and a sample letter to send to Governor O'Malley asking for specific projects to use the funds for. In the sample letter you'll see the Frederick project listed as number 6 on the list.
If you think this is a worthwhile project (less cars on the road, more bicycle transportation options, safer routes), take a few minutes to send a letter. Feel free to modify the sample letter, move Frederick to the top of the list, add your own concerns or do whatever you feel is necessary to convey the message you want to get out to the Governor about bicycle transportation issues and the Transportation Enhancement funds.
I've been chasing snow these last few weeks, on the bike and on the board. And by chasing I don't necessarily mean driving long distances in far away places, but rather grabbing the rides whenever I can because this year, more than any I remember in the recent past, the snow could come and go in a quick flash of a day or so. We've had it linger for longer, but the promising early Thanksgiving snow morphed into a dry spell for a while and things were looking dismal. Eventually the weather swung back around and gave us the white stuff, most times just the right amount to make the riding good without being too difficult.
A number of local bikers also had bought night passes for the local hills we call ski slopes and we had some great fun this winter meeting for night time slope action and beers. A good crew of people and some cross training that helped keep things fresh especially when some of the trails have been a muddy mess and needed time to dry out. The local lifts are shutting down this weekend and looks like spring might be here. A little over a week ago we had 3 inches of snow, 5 or so days later it was 70 and we were riding in shorts. The temps bounced again and it dipped close to freezing. Wednesday hit 70 again and then high 30s for the night followed by high 40s for a day time temp yesterday. Luckily the trails are drying right now but we haven't even hit the spring rains yet. Might be an interesting start to the season, we'll see how it goes.
Wednesday, in those warm temps that felt like the beginnings of summer this week, I headed out to the Shed with a couple of riders to enjoy some singletrack. Took the fixed gear out for the first time in a bit and then tackled some of the rockier and more technical trails. Man, my fixed skills were feeling rusty. Granted, freewheeling these trails takes a lot of skill, fitness, good line selection and a fair amount of luck, but I've certainly ridden them better on the fixed than I did on this run. It was fun, it was tough, and it made me realize that the lack of ice this winter meant I spent way less time on the non-coasting rig than I did last year. It didn't help that I've got some bruised and/or cracked ribs from a one-two punch of a snowboard spill followed by a high speed downhill dump on the bike in that recent snow. It really lets you know how much upper body effort the single geared rigs force on us in the technical bits and the steep climbs. I wish I could use that for an excuse for all of the pedal smacking dabs but that's not the case, I just need to spend a little more time getting that magic flow back when you can't coast on the trail. Guess that means more riding, what a bummer ;)