Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Frozen Chosen

My sincere apologies to the 1st Marine Division and my Marine friends. There was nothing funny about the Chosin Reservoir. But the headline just popped into my brain and it just fits for this post. David Halberstam's The Coldest Winter is one of those tales that just sticks with you. We throw around the word epic and think of how hard we are as bikers riding in winter. But this book tells an epic in the tradition of Homer and is the definition of hardman. Even if you are a total pacifist read that book and you'll get a glimpse of what tough is.

Speaking of tough men. I bumped into Rob Bauer at Natasha's pedalpowerphotography show last week and we talked about how closely our lives parallel each other right now. Plans were quickly hatched for riding. I got an email this week about trying to ride mtn bikes in the woods near Caryl Park and Hale Reservation. I was so stoked. Turns out a couple of other MRC riders decided to brave the Jens Factor HC conditions as well. The temperature dials in our cars read 10 degrees F at 10:30 am as we kittted up (well smartly everyone was kitted up already!) and got the bikes ready to roll.

It was a small but tight crew. Rob Bauer who is tough as nails, Art who I've know for about 5 years and is a super tough mtn biker and an MRC'er I haven't met before named Michael Lowry. Now I am in a bit of a bike lust phase. Well I am always in bike lust, maybe its more like having bike crushes as I love seeing new and different bikes. Well Michael brought a real interesting bike to the ride. He had a Spot Brand Longboard 29er ss with a belt drive! How cool it that! Rob was on a single speed as well. And Art was on a full suspension Specialized.

Having ridden these woods a million times I had a pretty good idea of what we'd be dealing with. Basically soft powder with a sheet of ice under it waiting to rip our bikes out from under us! Even with my Nokians I was a bit apprehensive of crashing really hard. But Art and Rob showed zero fear on their big fat non studded tires. Art crashed super hard first turn onto the trail. But these guys like I said before are tough as nails and it didn't seem to phase them at all. In fact, if I didn't know they weren't on studded tires I never would have guessed. Those two have some serious Ninja skills on the mtn bikes! And railed over the ice with very few crashes considering the peril lurking under the crusty powder.
The ride was beautiful. The conditions were perfect. The trail was fast and 90% rideable which is a gift in the middle of winter. Sure a half hour into the ride my fingers were frozen solid. But everyone who rides in winter has been there before. You just ball them up in a fist and they thaw out....eventually. After an hour truthfully I wasn't even cold. I was having so much fun chasing Rob on his single speed that I wasn't even noticing how cold it was. We did a crazy loop all through some great single track in Caryl Park and Hale. Between the three of us we knew just enough to put together a great loop without getting lost. We even rode the beach!
I have to say if I ride with these guys more often I may actually get some dirt riding skills. At one point I was following Rob over this bouldery technical section. A little up and over and down and in and I was thinking to myself wow what a great line. Then I hear Rob say under his breath "oh shit" Next thing I know he drops off the rock! No time to think and I just do the same thing. It was awesome! I never would have even tried that on my own. The single track was way less icy than the firetrails so we stuck to those. It made for a way more fun route anyway until Art with his massive watt producing efforts ripped his rear derailler off his bike!

No problem we think who has a chain tool and we'll just make it a single speed. Rob produces a shop quality park chain tool! Snap goes the chaintool pin! Dooohhh. Art just rips the chain apart and takes the derailler off and creates a 26" like-a-bike. It was a hoot actually hiking up and then surfing down the hills. Art forgot one time he didn't have a chain as he was trying to ride up a rock garden and almost ate it pretty bad! That was pretty hilarious in itself.
We got about 2.5 hours in of great riding in the woods on a day that no sane person would think "oh let's go biking." When we got back to the cars the digi temperature dials read 20 degrees! Kudos to those guys for getting me out on the bike and showing me how its done. I have to say I think I like riding my mountain bike more in the winter than summer. It is just such a different experience with all the rocks and ruts covered by frozen ice and snow....its almost like a skate park how you can surf over stuff that would have killed you in the middle of August. Speaking of August there was much talk of 24 hours of Great Glen! Rob and Art have their team "Locked and loaded" as Richard Fries likes to say. Team Hupcake Express must ride again! We had so much fun two years ago. Let's do it! Resumes will be accepted effective immediately. Although some other sucker errr I mean jackrabbit is doing the first lap run around the lake! Don't think of it as a race the whole idea will be to make it a fun excuse to go for a camping trip and hangout.

1 comment:

  1. Great ride, that drop was an "Oh Shit" moment.
    sometimes is better to react as oppose to thinking it over.