Sunday, January 22, 2012

Celebrating In Snow: Part II

The one year celebration of the Snow Dog continued Saturday with an invitation from Captain Bob to join him and maybe a few others on a snow ride. Plans were made and the time was set. I went to sleep Friday night as the mercury plunged well below the zero mark. (That's zero Fahrenheit, my non-U.S.A. friends)

The Capt. and Alan just outside of Denver. (That's Denver, Iowa)
When I finally crawled from the sleep-sack, it was 15 below zero. (-26.6C), and I checked out the hourly forecast. Fortunately it called for rapidly rising temperatures. Within two hours of my awakening, it was already 6 above, (-14.4C), and was supposed to go a wee bit higher still.

The trouble with that is that as the air gets warmer here in winter it gets "wetter", and it actually feels worse than it does at, or near zero. Oh well....

I met up with Captain Bob, Mike and Alan in a convenience store parking lot. We discussed some ride ideas. I heard from Alan and Capt. that snowmo's had been down the rail trail just outside of town. We thought we should check it out. Captain Bob knew of an easier access to the trail than trying to fight our way through drifted snow just outside of town, so we headed a mile north and then crossed the highway to gravel.

How the county maintenance guys scrape snow off gravel without also scarring the road surface too badly must be a trick. They seem to have it down to a science with a thin layer of snow left in most spots while some gravel peeks through in other spots. Seriously, it is amazing that they can do this well when you think about it.

Alan and Mike coming under the 4 lane.
We made a two mile jaunt to access the trail, and then dove in. It appeared as though only a few, (at best), sno-moes had been up this trail so far. With the snow being so dry, it wasn't enough to really make the trail ideal for fat-bikes, but we slogged through with some tire washing outs, dabs, and fish tailing.

The snow was deep, so if you caught an edge on the soft stuff, or got out of the line, you were swapping ends and veering toward the ditch. This made the ride pretty technical. Get the weight well back, loose hands on the bars, don't steer too much, and concentrate! Sounds like riding rollers? Well, it is a lot like that, only the scenery is much better!

We stopped at a mile in to re-group, and then went another mile, with another stop there to re-group. Time was a concern for some of us, so we planned one more mile and then peeled off the trail. It was slow, hard, but it was good fun too. The ride back on gravel was cold, what with the wind coming up, and the air getting wetter. It was certainly warmer, but more humid. I felt the air was warmer when we started since it was drier back at that time too.

Alan airing back up.
Alan had to stop to air his Endo back up to road certified pressures after he had dumped a lot of air out for the rail trail section. I did notice his tire on the trail. It was a funny thing to watch his rear tire pulse with each pedal stroke he took. Flat looking to normal, ad infinitum.

Once he got that squared away we were off again, now only a couple miles from Denver, Iowa. We rolled in on pavement for the last mile and as we hit town we could see residents going about the business of snow removal.

I spotted a man with his wife as they were using shovels to clear their sidewalk. The man had a blank stare on his face. Maybe he'd never seen a fat bike posse before? I don't know, but I waved in a friendly manner. Mike said he put his head down and laughed as we went by. Likely as not he was thinking we were certifiable nut-cases for being out on bicycles, regardless of the tire size.

Oh well, we didn't care. We got a nice, two hour ride in, while most folks were huddled inside their humble abodes. I got another excellent ride in on the Snow Dog and did it with some cycling friends. Doesn't get much better than that.


Captain Bob said...

Great ride! Thanks for the bike fit tips during the ride. Moving the saddle farther back helped a ton. I thru another headset spacer under the stem today to raise the bars a little more. Getting close to perfect now. Looking forward to next time....

MG said...

Happy Birthday to the Snow Dog. Glad I could be a part of that gift for you...