Thursday, January 14, 2016

Shaken, Not Stirred

Black Hawk Creek is flowing too fast to freeze yet.
Wednesday and perhaps my last chance until the weekend to ride in the Green Belt on a fat bike. Between then and Saturday, temperatures are going to get too warm to do much of anything out there, unless I ride at night. We have a short spell of above freezing temps now, but this weekend! Woo boy! It's going back into the deep freeze for a bit.

At least it isn't supposed to rain like it did last week, and then freeze up, which along with a little help from walkers, dogs, and deer have post holed up the track out there pretty badly in a few spots. Those two and four legged trail wreckers were out in force last week on those two warmer days and made a mess of things, which now has resulted in rock hard, bone jarring fat bike riding for the time being. I hear a crew is going out Thursday evening to smooth things over a bit. I may join them if I can.....

The city did get out and remove those two downed trees near the lake cut off, which was nice, but there still were a few places you had to watch your "p's & q's", dismount, and gingerly step across open water. Not a real big deal, but one slip could mean a really bad situation if you got soaked. I was also being careful for another reason.

Saturday I slipped and fell on the ice while walking around our vehicle while it was stopped in an alleyway. I landed heavily on my left forearm, which bruised badly, but the worst part was that it jacked up my shoulder and that has been a bad shoulder ever since I dumped my Fargo several years ago and went down on some concrete. Anyway, I wasn't keen on going down on my left side, so anything that presented itself to me that looked like it had the possibility of dumping me I was very careful about clearing.

Running water in the Green Belt makes for some cool ice structures. 

A rare bit of color in a mostly black and white landscape.
I went all the way out to Shaulis Road to the turn around and started making my way back again. I passed the really post holed out section in the Robinson Bird Sanctuary section of the Green Belt and went to enter the next section when I noted some movement. It was another fat biker. Turns out it was Duluth Dave on his Salsa. We chatted for a bit and then I took my leave of him as he was still headed South and I was going back North.

I got a bit off-track just South of HWY 20, but found my way back to the trail again with no issues.
The trail, despite the post-holing, was fast and rideable all the way through the Green Belt.
I beat a fast path back out to the beginning of the trail after seeing Duluth Dave. The trail is actually all rideable, with the exception of the forced crossings of water here and there, which are best done if you dismount. Oddly, I found one place that was dry, frozen water when I went out, but had overflow about four inches deep upon my return trip. I surmised at that place it was water backing in from the river, and that the Black Hawk Creek must be rising. I dismounted and carefully crossed it, and then sped along my way.

Many places would be impassable if the water wasn't frozen out there, like this frozen mini-pond near Shaulis Road.
This is an example of about a quarter mile of trail that was really rough near Ranchero Road.
It was a great ride, but I was certainly wishing I had left my suspension fork on the bike! My shoulder was rattled and hurting badly by the time I got home. If there ever was a reason to have a full suspension fat bike, like Salsa Cycles Bucksaw, this day, and the trail conditions certainly warranted it!

I hear via social media that some fellows are going out this evening to try and roll it smoother with their fat bikes. The weather will have softened things up a bit, as it is going to get into the upper 30's here today. Hopefully that works out. After the brief warm up, this weekend will refreeze again, and then we are to have some steady, below freezing days. This might work out so that we have some great fat biking for quite a while here, which would be unprecedented. We'll see......


sniffer said...

I threw the pick of my DIY snowgroomer on Twitter at you last week. It works great and we have a solid base. But all the damn deer!!! Lucky for us it is only deer. We have been out on snowshoes and I might head out tonight an drag it again after it gets a little soft, hoping to pack it even better.

Guitar Ted said...

@sniffer. I saw that, yes! It is good that it works so well for you. By the way, there were a few places where the deer had totaled out the trail surface here as well, but 4.8" tires tend to roll over that easier than they do over the craters that size 12 men's boots leave in the snow!

Andy said...

Im a city dweller of course Ted, recently sold my Blackborow because I'm looking for something more versatile. I'm thinking a mid fat, maybe I'll build up a krampug in the fall.

Anyways, you aren't kidding about the warm Thurs or the cold either! Here in Iowa City that Thursday melt wrecked my Friday commute. All that melt created thin slicks all around the city. I dumped my Straggler, but luckily ended up a little better than you it sounds like. Shoulders a little sore, but not as bruised as my pride!

Luckily the beautiful paint on my straggler was unscathed. I've gotta invest in a second wheelset for that thing to keep my studded tires on. I built this bike up a few weeks ago and was really excited about the WTB Nano TCS 40s. I told myself I'd just be careful and if the warm fall was any indication, spring would be here before I knew it! So I set them up tubeless immediately, and all ice aside they are freaking amazing! I think their rolling resistance on tarmac is quite good actually, but then, I had been riding Lous on my BB and studded Marathons on my daily driver.

I don't know about you guys, seem to have more snow than we got, but with the freezing rain, and the initial composition of the snow, everything white is a big crunchy ice sheet here. The going sucks! I would say I wished for more soft wet or powdery stuff, but now that my BB is gone, I won't wish for snow until I put something together for next year. Cheers!