Saturday, February 08, 2020

Winter Views: Post-Hole Hell

I thought the Sergeant Road Trail was bad with post-holes,.....

Funny thing about Winter thaws, they never last till Spring! That means things re-freeze. This is an important point in today's post about trail riding. I went out Monday of this past week, and while temperatures were above freezing during my ride, things had re-frozen from the crazy 50 degree temperatures of the day before that.

Apparently the unseasonably warm temperatures of the weekend brought out several seekers of outdoors bliss, as the Sergeant Road bike trail showed a lot of "post-holing". Now this is a term I wasn't familiar with until I started fat biking. Perhaps you don't quite know what I am talking about? Well, here following is a brief description......

"Post Hole"- The result of the actions of animals or humans when walking in soft, or slushy snow, which then re-freezes. This results in a pock-marked landscape which is difficult to impossible to traverse afterward.

Now, that image I have here may not look all that bad, but let me tell you, those frozen tracks are like little jackhammer hits. Not only that, but they want to misdirect your tires and handling is difficult. Consider also that this pretty much makes walking an ankle-twisting affair. Traction is compromised, and essentially, the trail surface is ruined for any recreational activity. But, ya know......that didn't matter at the time, right? Pretty thoughtless.

If it seems that I am a little bitter about this, well you'd be correct. I am. Not that there is anything we can do about it. But the Sergeant Road Bike Trail was a piece of cake compared to what I was about to ride in to.

Things had been snow covered or icy, but Monday they were peanut buttery wet.
The original goal was to recon the gravel South of town to get a read on how the roads were coming along. I did make it out there. The results? Wet, mucky, and getting worse with the above freezing temperatures. Going far would have been a bad idea. With that bit of info safely tucked away in my hat, I turned and figured, hey! Why not take the Green Belt Trail back? It would keep me out of the bitter Northwest wind which I would have been facing all the way back in on Sergeant Road Trail.

From the frying pan into the fire.
"Boy! Was getting out of the wind a good idea", I thought. It was a bitter blast. But once I experienced what was waiting for me on the Green Belt single track, well, I'd have rather frozen my face off. The post-holing was intense and far, far worse than on the Sergeant Road Bicycle Trail. There were times it was so bumpy I was crawling and I was knocked off my bike several times by the frozen craters.

Someone had snow shoes, (you can see the tracks on the left side of the image above), but their passage did not compact the snow enough to make any head way on. Super-high resistance riding with no good base to steer the front wheel. So, I spent most of the six-plus mile trip back on the worst post-holed trail I've had to ride in years. It was so bad I was cursing.

It took me an hour to arrive at my turn-around point on the gravel, and it took two hours to get back home from there. All because people had to get their outside on and devil-may-care. Slush or no- they walked all over everything. At one point I had to laugh because it was obvious that late on the day before, at peak heat when things were all but slush, someone obviously wearing trail running shoes had ran the last section of trail back to the trailhead at Ansborough Avenue. Their duck-footed, hard planted tracks pushed the slush aside, and penetrated down to the Earth, leaving huge craters on Monday which were devastatingly hard to ride through.

I was never so glad to reach pavement.


graveldoc said...

I got to wondering if a suspension fork for the fat bike might have helped atttenuate the effects of the post holes?

Guitar Ted said...

@graveldoc - Probably, yes. I have had a Rock Shox Bluto and I have run suspension seat posts on fat bikes. Both would have helped in this situation for sure. That said, control and speed would still have been somewhat of an issue in these conditions.

DT said...

Wow! Are these designated as bicycle only trails? We run into this situation a lot around here, but it's mostly xc skier vs snowshoer vs fat biker

Guitar Ted said...

@DT - They are multi-use trails, but the funny thing is that now that the walkers have post-holed them so badly, no one is safe using them. Basically they ruined it for everyone. This is my problem with trails in urban areas with zero oversight. There is no education, no signage, and obviously no enforcement of rules since 'rules" don't seem to exist, not to mention the lack of any basic observation skills.

Michael Lemberger said...

We hates it, the postholery. Especially when they do it to the entire width of the trail. I don't run and wouldn't know for sure, but there must be some especially deep gratification in ruining the trail for everyone.