Thursday, November 27, 2014

Arrowhead 135: Melting

Wednesday I took off on a little bike ride - just a couple of hours long - on the Corridor that passes near our house.  I just wanted to get out and put in some time on the bike - and I wanted to test out melting snow.  See in all three of my previous Arrowhead experiences (two finishes in '09 and '11 and one more attempt in '13 that saw me drop at Melgeorge's) I've had water issues.  In theory all of them could have been avoided by simply melting snow but in '09 (-25) and '11 (-35) trying to handle a stove would have been problematic.  In '13 the trails were all but unridable because of a snowstorm and I ran out of water just because it was taking much longer to get from Gateway to Melgeorge's.  It was warm that year and I certainly could have stopped to melt snow.  But for reasons that mainly have to do with dumbassedness, I didn't.

So this year, I am going to do it right or suffer the consequences of thirst (not to mention shame and humiliation).  To that end, I'm going to practice melting snow.  It's very complicated.

Somebody thought it'd be a good idea to drive their truck down the snowmobile trail.  It didn't last all that long but it about gave me fits.  I can't imagine that snowmobilers like it much, either.  
A single snowmobile had passed when the snow was soft last weekend - and they had since frozen.  The firmest part of the trail was the center tread.

After a bit of trouble getting the stove lit (I think the alcohol may have gotten some condensation in it) it worked pretty well to melt some snow.

The stove (which is also the pot support) melted into the snow a bit.

I got enough snow to melt to about fill the pot.

The stove was a little alcohol contraption that I made with a pop can.  And it weighs .3 oz and fits inside the pot so it doesn't take up any more space.

The stove fits in the pot (as does the small fuel bottle I was using) so things pack up pretty small and easily fits in my frame bag. 

Thanksgiving day I went for a quick, easy spin to stretch the legs and get some fresh air.  I only rode like 30 minutes.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Arrowhead 135: Slush

Winter started early in northern WI - It snowed pretty heavy in early November and we had shin-deep snow (and then several more lesser snows) and - until this weekend - temps stayed cold and things didn't melt.  

Then this weekend saw temp in the upper 30's on Sat. and into the mid 40's on Sunday.  It made for sloppy biking conditions so, of course, I decided it was a good time for a bike ride.  Maybe just two or three hours max.

Sat. was opening day of the gun-deer hunting season in WI.  The snowmobile trails in the Chequamegon National Forest (CNF) haven't yet been groomed but there had been a couple of snowmobiles out there and the walking was easier on the trail than off.  A hunter had scooped out the snow and made a chair out of an embankment just on the side of the trail.

Hard to see in this picture but this is the "chair" where the hunter sat.  

Even though the trail was soft and I had to push this section, I still had a nice walk in the woods

After a bit of pushing I came to a gravel road which had been plowed.  But the warm temps had melted the packed snow left over after it was plowed and it made for a slushy ride.

Yes, mom, I'll readjust my stem

On the slushy gravel road I checked my watch - I had been riding for two hours already but had a route in mind that I wanted to finish that meant I had to keep riding away from home to complete.  Prudence would have dictated that I simply turn around then.  Yeah right - see quote below.

I turned off the gravel/slush road onto a paved/slush road.  As if there wasn't enough wetness being thrown up by my tires, it started to rain.  Not hard - but still not exactly ideal.  The damp air was fogging up my glasses and I couldn't see.  Slush was getting thrown up into my eyes from underneath my sunglasses, and slush was getting onto the front of the sunglasses and making it hard to see out.  To solve all these problems I pushed my sunglasses down my nose as far as I could.  I could easily see over them and any slush flying up from below hit the glasses and not my eyes.  Plus I looked cool.

"But any solid adventure has, at it's core, a casual disregard for good sense."  
- Joe Kurmaskie  Momentum is your Friend

I turned off of the paved road and onto the Corridor (a snowmobile highway that's groomed and (usually - but not today) fairly hard packed.  I turned onto it and immediately started to sink in the the handling got too squirrely.  So I dropped the pressure in my tires down almost as low as I dared.  That helped immensely and I was able to make steady (if slow) progress.

Lowering tire pressure is almost magical in how much it helps and most of time riding was a fairly straightforward thing.  But sometimes there would be unseen glitch in the snow and staying upright would suddenly and unexpectedly get interesting.

Shortly after I turned onto the Corridor I stopped to eat the rest of my food - a chunk of summer sausage and a piece of bread.  But the rest of the ride took me a long time and as I got close to home it was clear that I had mis-guessed the number of calories I needed.  I didn't quite bonk but it was getting pretty sketchy - and when I got home I gorged on some grapes that were handy, (this reminded me of the time that, after finishing the Chequamegon Fat Tire Forty [named when a regular mountain bike's tires were considered fat], I was half crazed with hunger and they were giving away doughnut balls.  I turned over my sweaty, nasty helmet and filled the thing up with the free doughnut balls and ate the whole blessed thing) ate few peanuts and had a glass of milk and started to feel human again.

I had been out riding for pushing 5 hours - and as is almost always the case when I go out riding I loved it.