Thursday, February 09, 2012

Cold Snap!

The weather turned colder in the last few days, arresting the depletion of the snow cover for at least the rest of the week. Seeing as how Frosty the Snowman had gotten a brief reprieve, I decided to take another trip down the Green Belt with By-Tor the Titanium Mukluk to get a taste of firmer snow.

ATV compacted trail
It was a sunny day, but temperatures were still only in the mid-20's as I started out. This insured that the mushy, wet snow that I had encountered on Saturday would now be rock hard, crusty, and very much easier to ride. I was not disappointed.

I found that the going was far easier, but very bumpy! The ATV's had made a smoother path than the walkers, but the high frequency vibrations were like running across a never ending rumble strip!

And the noise! Wow, was it really loud. In fact, I came across a guy walking who said something to me, but I couldn't hear a word of what he said. The tires crunching the ice/snow mix were making a noise sort of like a car's tires on gravel amplified to eleven. It was totally insane. I suppose this guy thought I was a real prick, but I couldn't really help but do anything else than what I did, which was to smile and nod hello.

It was obvious that the ATV guys had been back on Sunday and in many spots they let the throttles get the best of them as they spun their tires and chewed up the trail surface down into the mud and dirt below. I was really upset about this. Especially considering there is an approved ATV park built especially for these clowns across town. They just don't need to be out there. But when the city decided to start clearing the Green Belt with an end loader three years ago, they just invited this sort of thing. Five years ago these guys wouldn't have been able to get through there on ATV's.

Whoops! Wrong turn!
It isn't that I minded that they rode through, it's the tearing up of the trail where they hit the throttle that bugs me.

Where the ATV's just rolled through, it actually made my cycling more fun. When the ATV's peeled off, the post-holed surface from the walkers made for a rather jarring ride. The snow was unforgiving, and it was like riding over boulders.

My wrists and hands are still feeling it from the paint-shaker like trail surface. I had to keep shaking out my hands as all the vibrations were making them get numb. The ol' titanium frame was doing what it could, but this is still a rigid bike. I hate to think what it would have felt like on "skinny" tires!

Still, it was far better than Saturday when I could only maintain a snail's pace across these same trails as I was fighting the bike to stay up right and moving forward. Traction was poor that day, but not on this colder day. I had great traction going out, and I easily climbed rises that had me trudging on foot Saturday. Even off camber sections, which were essentially impossible to ride Saturday, were child's play now that the snow was frozen solid.

A reminder of warmer weather
I made it out to Shaulis Road just fine and I pushed on to Ranchero Road coming back home. I decided that when I came back around to the lake turn off, that I would take it and see how far I could ride that trail around.

It was actually about 3/4's clear. By the time I had started coming back through bits of trail I had been on earlier, it was readily apparent that the temperatures were getting warmer. The snow-less ground was getting muddy, and some snow was getting wet. The angle of the sun is getting higher in the sky these days, and the snow just won't hang on forever, even if it is below freezing.

The ride went off fine, but I was getting really shaken up by all the post-holed trail. I was pretty glad to have the ride winding down as I got back closer to home. But I made my goal of getting all the way out to the end of the Green Belt and back, so I was pretty satisfied with that and the 2.5 hours of ride time.

After getting home I started knocking off some of the mud and ice frozen to By-Tor and discovered that my ride ended none too soon. My drive side crank arm was really loose! Guess that "paint-shaker" effect of the hard snow did more than just beat up my body! Off to the repair rack.......


Jon said...

I have noticed the noise of fat tires on crusty snow, myself, during my commute the past few days. I wonder if the volume of the tire acts like a drum amd actually amplifes the crunching...

MG said...

I think it does, @Jon. I've noticed the same thing as well...