Saturday, December 13, 2014


Back in the winter of '03/'04 I was living near Fairbanks, AK.  Before that winter in Fairbanks winter biking had meant riding the trainer down in the basement.  Previously my lower temperature riding limit was about +20*.  But I ended up falling in with a bunch of winter bikers (including, in a totally unearned bit of extraordinary luck, Rocky Reifenstuhl [though the linked article makes him sound totally badass at the start, further down it states "For all his intensity and racing bravado, though, there was a softer side to Rocky that many people didn’t see. He was a mentor and a teacher and a friend who was willing to share his knowledge about bikes and training and fitness and race strategy, as well as life in general, to anyone who was willing to listen.."  That's the Rocky I remember]).

Anyway, what I'm getting at is that I first fell in love with snowbiking in Fairbanks.  I don't remember ever riding on a groomed trail up there but everyone had snowmachines and the trails were - in general - packed hard.  Which was good because fatbikes weren't yet invented - or at least weren't commonly available (I had never seen one)(Mike Curiak wasn't even riding fat yet)

Because the trails weren't groomed in the they were narrow.  The ride yesterday reminded me of that.  We got a big snow here back in early/mid Nov.  And have gotten just a few small snowfalls and dustings (not more than a couple of inches at a time) since - and while the snowmobile trails are officially open they haven't yet been groomed.  Here's to hoping that they don't.  The trail winds through the trees, and though it's not single track by any stretch, it feels much more intimate than it does after the groomer comes though and makes it so two snowmobiles can pass each other easily.

It was one of those foggy days where the fog frosts the treetops and you almost can't tell where the trees end and the sky begins

Even though the Chequamegon Highlands are not much higher than our place (maybe a few hundred feet) I had no idea that things would be so frosty at the top of the ridge.  They weren't at home when I left and weren't when I got back.

Much of the ride was kinda a pleasure cruise that saw me taking lots of pictures and not really pushing the pace at all.

I had intentionally shorted myself on water - I took enough with me to get me a few hours down the trail and then run out.  I wanted to have to melt some snow.
With ~2 ozs of alcohol I melted enough snow to fill one pot of water (which I dumped in my camelbak) and then since the stove was still burning I melted most of another pot.  But it was +33 - not likely to be the conditions we'll see at Arrowhead.  Though in '13 it was almost that warm - the lowest we saw in the race was +20.  But in '09 it was -25 and in '11, -35.

It's been warm here - mostly in the 20's and even 30's with maybe high teens overnight and I haven't had much chance to test out gear in the really cold weather that I could see at Arrowhead.  It'd actually be really nice (for Arrowhead training - definitely not for our propane bill) if it got really cold (like -25) for a couple of days so I could give things a try in cold weather.  It's one thing to be able to use your gear at +20 but it's quite another to use it at -35 when you're sleep deprived and have 80 miles in your legs already.

Sour gummi worms are my Mike and Ike's

I hopefully won't need to even get out my tool kit in Arrowhead but just in case I do need it I "practiced" today.  I there were times when I needed to tweak my bike and since none of them were a big deal I suppose I could have waited until I got back inside - but I wanted to try out working tools with gloves on.  My slow-leaking rear tire gave me ample opportunity to try out my pump, too.

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