Thursday, April 21, 2011

WNR #05 - 4/20 Snow Ride

Mother Nature sure seems to have a good sense of humor to hold onto her latest April Fool's joke by dumping 6+ inches of snow on us overnight. That didn't stop a few of us from getting in some revolutions. In fact, our fine foursome included myself (CB), Charlie, Kevin and Chris H. We headed to the Lark's Lake section of the NCT as planned. If you haven't driven Lark's Lake road this spring, beware that the county has reverted this back to a dirt road from Stutsmanville Rd. north to Robinson Rd. and with the recent snow made for a muddy, mucky, sloppy, washboard of a drive. As we suited up to ride, the snow continued to fall, making it feel more like November than April. Undaunted, we lowered our tire pressure (for better traction supposedly) and headed out to see what it would bring. Kevin & I had hoped that the conditions would be similar to our first snow ride last December at Boyne Mt. This wasn't quite so, this snow was much wetter & heavier which made the trail a LOT more slippery. Luckily the L.L. section isn't too climby so we were able to make it up most of the first hills...with a little practice. You have to stay seated, gear down, keep your weight back and stay light on the pedals in an effort to maintain traction. There is a pretty good climb early on the trail and we made it a little ways before we had to dismount & hike-a-bike. After a brief stop, rest & regroup at the top, we got going again into the pines and the conditions were noticeably better, partly because we were going downhill but also because the snow was different in the pines, not quite as deep, a little slushier which seemed to give a bit more traction and control. It was very apparent when we popped out into open areas with more snow. It was definitely a challenge to keep going straight as your front tire seems to have a mind of it's own and tries to wander plus when it does, you have a tendency to lean forward to gain control which causes your front tire to veer off track even further. In ways, it is similar to riding in sand, not quite as loose but definitely more slippery; an interesting way to acquire added handling skills. Once through the pines, we all seemed to be getting the hang of it and as we crossed Middle Village Rd. we wondered how difficult the next climb would be. It isn't that steep but it is long and it doesn't take much for you to spin out in these conditions. Though the ride pace was slow, the heart pace wasn't because you really have to work to maintain traction and stay on track. Overall, the climb wasn't too bad, I made it with a slow & steady approach, Kevin spun out but it was near the top and I think AC & Chris made it most of the way too. We decided that Palmer Rd. would be far enough given the conditions and the fact that the pines section beyond that might be a B!#ch to climb back up. As always, the return trip on this trail is a lot more enjoyable and it was much easier following our outbound grooves (if you could stay in them!) I locked out my fork and found that I got much better control in the turns, though it was a lot bumpier...good thing we couldn't go too fast. Kevin had a good spill but he was behind me and I missed the show, you'll have to ask AC for the play-by-play. Our confidence was definitely up on the way down but there were corners & quick turns that required a quick clip-out to plant a foot or stiff-arm a tree for course correction; timing was surely key! All in all a pretty good ride, a total of about 5.5 miles in just under an hour, nothing we would normally tout but we kept the WNR streak alive for 2011.

The plan for next week is to head south to Boyne Mt. (we had considered Avalanche but with the recent snow we're pretty sure it will be too greasy...sorry girls.) Plan on post-ride grub at the Mesa!


SARGE said...

Nice write up Chris.

Bodt said...

And photos.

WPG said...

I'm glad you guys were able to get out and keep the streak alive. I'll be there next week for sure.