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.


  1. hahaha--so glad you loved it, you crazy son-o-mine.

  2. Next time please document the coolness- slushy, low-slung sunglasses. :)

  3. Yep, my only regret is not having the presence of mind to take a selfie of the slush-faced, blaze orange wearing, librarian-bespeckled biker.