Thursday, January 10, 2013

Triple D Winter Race: Training Log 7: Goodbye Snow!

Hitting the dike before the Sun does.
With several days off to get some rest, I was ready to get back on the horse and ride again. Added to this was the fact that the snow cover was dwindling over the past several days due to the recent warm up. I was wanting to get at least one more good snowy ride in before things descended into the muck and mire zone.

Wednesday was my first Wednesday off for the year, and I high tailed it out to The Green Belt to get my fix of snow before the sun got too high into the January sky. I decide to start out on the dike tops, since those would be the first places to turn to mush later on into the morning. I figured the wooded areas would hold the cold temperatures longer, then I would check out Sergeant Road Trail coming home to see what that would be like. This route plan would also mimic what I figure will likely be the Triple D course, albeit in miniature.

Well, the dike was everything you'd want in snow. Packed in by copious snowmobile traffic, I was cruising right along smoothly up there. I crossed Ansborough, and then descended into the woods where I had spied a single set of XC ski tracks. I followed those to the main trail, which was a pock marked "super-highway" as far as snow riding goes. There had been so much foot traffic that the XC track was obliterated in many places.

This was fast!
I rode along until I saw a wide, beaten down track that headed off to the East where I had never seen a dirt trail go before. I assumed it accessed the lake, and I was correct. Not long after riding around the western edge of the lake, I saw the path beaten in going back West down into the woods again. This ended up going to that little "trysting place" everyone knows about in the Cedars.

I rode by there, and the path leads out to the main access trail from the lake to the Green Belt Trail. I hooked a right and headed back toward the Black Hawk Creek. Then back on the "regular" trails along the creek until I hit the "Y" where you can go right, and eventually to the shelter on Ridgeway, or left-ish, and to the little parking lot further East up Ridgeway. I took the left way.

My aim was to get to "Marky-Mark" and see if I could use it to get back to the western side of the trail. It was lightly trafficked, maybe only a single snow shoer and definitely a single set of XC ski tracks were all I saw.

Deer post holes, snow shoe tracks, and me.
Well, it was really slow going through here. The snow was the consistency of mashed potatoes, and getting any sideways motion was going to stop your forward progress through this. Yes- I had to start and stop several times! 

Where I could ride, it was granny gear and really slow. Southern facing banks and hills were showing signs of going bare soon. I bet after I passed through several of these spots did lose their snow cover. 

This maybe isn't like anything that will be on Triple D, but I have heard that there will be more single track, so you never know! If it is the worst I'll ride and the event doesn't have anything like it, all the better. Chalk it up to training. I ground out through Marky-Mark to the shelter area, and then out to the gravel lot. By now the sun had risen high enough that the morning frost had melted and the lot was all peanut butter goo. Quite a bit different than the snow I had just been plowing through. Now over the pavement and up to Ranchero via the "left way" after the HWY 20 bridge.

Once again, the "left way" was post holed by so many deer and human feet/hooves that I could hardly discern which way the actual trail went through here. I managed to find the faintest remnants of an XC track, and set my sights to following that. I guess I should have obeyed the "Rule Of Right" on this ride!

Someone has taken a lot of time to build this.
Well, I ended up getting bogged down and the going was slow again. Once I punched through to the parking lot, I was finally back up on the big ring and making more progress. Then on to Robinson Bird Sanctuary trails.

The path was well beaten in here. I paused for several minutes as I watched a small herd of does motoring through the snow. Amazing little creatures, those deer. Nothing seems to ever be able to slow them down. I saw well over twenty deer on my ride today, by the way. The herd I saw last accounting for at least half of that number.

Well, the morning was getting on, and I needed to reach the railroad bridge and get on the bike path that uses it now. The good thing was that the snow back in here was super fast, tacky, and hero dirt. I was going as fast as I had all day right through this sector. I reached the bridge and got up on the well packed in snow mobile tracks and continued to ride fast. This "T"'s into Sergeant Road Trail where I planned to turn back North and East.

The trail intersection was a bit of a surprise as it was devoid of snow and there were big dry patches of pavement down further on the trail. Anywhere the blizzard had scoured the snow down thinner was now bare pavement. Where the drifts were, or where there were shadows, the snow was still pretty deep. 

Instagram effect courtesy of dropping camera into snow!
Fortunately the snow drifts were pretty solid yet, and I motored through, and mostly over stuff with little issue. I covered the entire trail sector in far less time than it took to get out that far on single track.

By the time I had crossed all the roads before Fletcher I was pretty cooked. I was hot, and I actually had my layers unzipped down to my base layer, with thoughts of removing the gloves as well. I was also getting hungry, and I was fatigued and loving all of this.

I decided to take the bandit cut off which crosses Highway 63 North of Fletcher and takes me into the backside of my neighborhood. I was met by a torrent of water flowing towards me when I came down into the ditch off the highway. What?!! Was this all snow melt runoff? Couldn't be!

I rode through the running river, with the water covering the Big Fat Larrys in many places until I saw the source of this new creek. It was a broken water main under a little used street. The pavement was heaved up as if a small bomb had been detonated down under there.

That was the last interesting feature before I got home and stripped off my hot, sweat soaked layers and got something together for lunch. I made it almost 3 hours this day, and it was pretty good. Maybe the last time I'll be riding on decent snow packed trails for a while, anyway. It is forecast to rain tomorrow, be warmer on Friday, and warm enough to melt snow Saturday. Then it re-freezes for a few days, but by then the damage will likely have been done. We'll see. Triple D could be a real interesting mix of snow, ice, mud, and pavement this year!

1 comment:

Michael Lemberger said...

You know what slows down the deer? A deep layer of soft snow with a good hard crust on top. I once had the privilege of watching a couple of feral dogs run one down because their weight was better distributed by their paws, while the deer not so much by its hooves. Ugly stuff.

As for Triple D, two out of the last four years looked snowless until the week before the race. Ya just never know...