Monday, December 26, 2016

Mushing Through The Slush

This was mostly slick ice. We didn't have studs on,so we turned around.
The plan was for NY Roll and I to head up to Ingawanis Woodlands and check out the groomed single track there on our fat bikes. We headed out at 8:00am on Christmas Eve with an aim to get out of town via Burton Avenue.

On the way out the city streets were a complete mess. Most of them were hard packed, slightly icy surfaces with a good amount of outright slush to go through. Fortunately the temperatures weren't cold. It was about 34°F and the wind was very light. Getting sprayed by the slushy mess wasn't that big of a deal then.

I dressed with a base layer, which was a summer time tank style, then a Twin Six wool jersey, and then my Bontrager Lithos jacket. The bottoms were the Pixelite Winter tights from ProViz. The feet were wrapped with a long pair of thinner wool socks, a vapor barrier made of plastic grocery sacks, and then my Keen hiking boots. Hands were covered with a thin wool liner and the Planet Bike Borealis lobster mitts. I was fine for the entire ride, and in fact, I had to vent using the various zippers on the Lithos jacket for most of the ride. On my head I used a thin winter Polar Fleece cap and my Bell Super helmet.

So,anyway....... We got out to the gravel and it was icy. We did not have studded tires, and I and NY Roll both felt that it would only take one small misstep and we could be hitting the deck. I wasn't in for slamming into a rock hard, icy gravel road at (likely) a high rate of speed. So, we turned back and headed towards George Wyth State Park via Airline Highway. That's where we hit masses of slushy crap.

NY Roll wanted to ride on the pavement, but I called out to him to ride the (what looked like) snow covered shoulder saying, "C'mon! It's a fat bike!" he came over onto the slushy mess and we plowed that through at least a mile. We got a good work out, that's for sure! Then I had a brilliant idea. Instead of crawling all the way around the North side of the park to come in the back way, why not just go through the front gate? Normally this wouldn't be adviseable due to heavy, fast traffic, but on Christmas Eve, the traffic was light.

George Wyth was soft, and the track for fat bikes likely won't survive till next weekend.
So we headed down the entire length of the service road to the shelter house, then we hit up some single track. It was rather soft, slippery, and the snow was nigh unto going to slush. In fact, in several places it was slush.

At least we got to ride this before the rains on Christmas Day and the above freezing temperatures forecast for the week between Christmas and New Years Day basically take the option away from us. At least for the short term. I suppose I'd rather the tracks get all melted away instead of halfway gone, freeze hard as a rock, and then put some powdery snow on top of that. That would basically really suck!

So, NY Roll and I made our way going basically West around Alice Wyth Lake and back to the main bike path where we decided to try and find a coffee shop for a bit of a warm drink. We slogged our way over to where the two main coffee shops in Cedar Falls are but both were closed up. Hmm..... Bummer. Oh well, moving on now......

We then hit the snow covered bike paths down to the Cedar River and followed that East for a while. The constant correcting and sliding out a bit was taxing. It was pretty obvious that this was going to be the last of decent fat bike conditions for a while now. We stopped for a bit to chat, then we headed on to Lower Hartman and the trail through there. This was perhaps the best trail for fat biking we rode all day. Fairly solid snow, packed in well, and no real soft sections as we found in George Wyth. Then we exited that trail via old John's Trail and out on old Shirey Way to head up Hackett.

The bike path along the South side of the Cedar was pretty treacherous.
I decided that after three hours I needed to get back to my home, so we decided not to try any of the "Sherwood" single track, although it looked pretty good. Instead we went up the remainder of the bike trail along the Cedar and when we got to Northland Oil and the old "access" to the small park up on the ridge, I discovered the new bench cut trail which had recently been put in. NY Roll had seen it before, but I hadn't been down this way since Fall on a gravel ride when I came back into town this way.

It's a nicer, easier, and for the City of Waterloo, safer way to access the lot above where people stop to use the trail. I suppose they got a lot of complaints from users that couldn't negotiate the steeper old trail. Next thing ya know they'll be paving this. Which would be rich, since then it would become an icy, unusable ramp in Winter. I don't know what the plan is, but accommodating "everyone's needs" typically screws things up worse for everyone. We'll see how this develops..... Besides, I hate the "pave everything" ethos of most trail user groups. It is simply misguided and typically wrong. But this post is about a ride, so.......

This ride eventually came to an end. Three hours or so of fun, wet, tough riding which left me pretty whooped. I guess I was pretty happy with how it went, since I haven't been on a longer ride for a while. At least the Holidays haven't slowed me down.......much, well......maybe a little! I was a bit disappointed we didn't get to make a big country adventure out of this, but ice and fat tires don't mix well on uneven ice. I was glad to preserve my health, especially my left shoulder, as it is and not do anymore damage. Now with the weather being as wonky as it has and will be for a bit, I just might actually be able to get out on the gravel roads in the country. In between now and's gonna be a mess.

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