Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Better Than I Expected

Hike-a-bike section on the bike trail.
I heard some local fellows had gotten out on New Year's Day to snow shoe in some trail in the Green Belt, so Saturday I decided to get out before lunch to check it out. It was pretty chilly, with temperatures starting out in the teens, but it was Sunny, and the skies were bright and blue. A really spectacular day for early January, actually.

The wind was blowing pretty stiffly though, so I wasn't going to venture out into the wide open spaces, unless I had to traverse a bit of that to get back into the woods. The Green Belt ride on a fat bike would be challenging enough, I figured, and who knew how good the trail would actually be anyway?

I started out by going down my little bit of beaten in trail that I will be using for commuting, and then veered left at the bike path to get me over to the dog park where the trail was supposed to have been started at for us fat bikers. In between I had a fair amount of hike-a-bike, as the deep snow on the bike path was taking just too much effort to ride. I figured I walked about 3/4's of a mile. Good for the soul, I suppose. Then it was over on a city street to where the dog park was and I easily found the beaten in path going steeply up the flood control dike. I powered up and over. Then I was on my way down a narrow, solidly packed in trail leading back into the woods with a XC ski track running alongside of this.

The trail was excellently packed in by a few intrepid fat bikers using snow shoes the day before my ride. 
Flooding just before the New Year has left a few "barriers" to cross over.
The water is still high enough in the backwaters, that drainage is still running out to Black Hawk Creek in some spots.
I had a few stops along the way to hop over tangled messes of downed trees, or to gingerly tip-toe across water drainages still running water out of the flooded areas to Black Hawk Creek, Fortunately I didn't get wet! At one point, I had to use my bike as a crutch of sorts to allow me to steady myself on some stepping stones placed across a narrow drainage that was bottom bracket deep. Great care was necessary to avoid having to deal with water-logged clothing, which could have become a big problem.

The Black Hawk Creeks is running swiftly and there is no ice due to the high water levels now.
The message I saw concerning the trail for fat biking indicated that it was "good from the dog park to Ridgeway", so I went all the way out to Ridgeway on the East spur, then crossed on Marky-Mark Westward. Marky-Mark had one snow shoe track through it, maybe two, but it wasn't packed in enough to really ride it. I ended up pushing 80% of the distance of that trail, which is all good.

When I reached the West lot on Ridgeway, I found the trail so post-holed it was nigh unto impossible to ride it, but I managed to make it without dabbing. I did run into three females XC skiing earlier, and then two more in this West leg of the trail. The last two were thinking I was "workig too hard". Hrrrumph! Really? I was covering far more ground in the same amount of time as they were with far less effort. You know bicycles are the most eficient machine ever invented, right? Actually, I didn't say anything to them but that I was enjoying "good exercise", to which they heartily agreed.

The trail around the lake was absolutely fantastic. Perfectly packed and fast.
 Once I had sped on past the two XC skiers, I rejoined the main trail at the water crossing and then found that the post-holing was pretty minimal. I decided to take the lake loop in, so I peeled off the Green Belt Trail at the appropriate place to find excellently packed in trail which was fast and grippy. I was really quite surprised this loop wasn't post-holed to high heaven, as it is a popular hiking trail. Oh well! I guess I hit the jack-pot Saturday. I'll take that any day. It was the best Winter conditions for fat biking I'd ever seen around that lake.

So, all in all, this crap-snow we got actually did firm up into something of a really fine fat biking opportunity. I hadn't expected that to be the case at all, but it was, and is yet. I'll be squeezing in as much as I can get while the gettin' is good!

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