27 January 2012 - 11:08Redemption
I managed to get one more trundle in before the weather turned foul, and my trip to AZ, and this time, I was prepared. Ponte and I were going to re-attempt the ride I failed on so miserably last Sunday. We even left early enough to get prime conditions. It had been pretty warm since the last time I was out, so the snow had settled a bit, and the cold overnight temps had made for some good crusty conditions.
We made our way up the Catamount Trail. It was full on golden hour, which was quite pleasant. The conditions were really good, there were lots of different tracks out there, snowshoes, skis, moose, and some weird bird that had huge feet. We made the climb up to Billings Rd with only a couple of breaks to catch our breath. The cold air can really take it out of you.
I claim the first descent down the Gauntlet on a bike this year! This rock feature is quite nasty and has taken quite a bit of skin and blood from me over the years. It’s rocky, finny, ugly, and there is only one way down it. The price for failure is pain. Not today though!
Further down the trail we got to a well groomed snowmobile track and made our climb up to Peak A View. A moose had been up there post holing through the track, but our big tires floated right over the craters. As the sun was creeping up, the track was getting softer. Peak A View had been skied, there was a good pack on the trail, but because it is a little steeper and tighter there were a couple of sections that had to be walked.
Once we got to the top, we were rewarded with one of the nicest views you can ride to. I really like it up there. Coming down was really fun. I have to say that there is something exhilarating about descending with one of these bikes. They are somewhat cantankerous in nature. They don’t really like to change direction once they get going, and with uncertain snow firmness, there is an element of danger that is kinda fun.
We headed to Lauren’s Loop, an old school favorite of mine in the summer. There was only one set of ski tracks going down, so the pack was quite narrow. It didn’t stop us from riding the trail as fast as possible. It was the soft snow just to the left that stopped us, well, me anyway. I lost the front wheel and it dove away from me, my momentum took me over the bars at a high rate of speed. Ejection. I did a full flip in the air before landing down trail from my bike. Snow can provide a really soft landing, and I was very grateful for that.
After remounting, and several failed attempts to get going again, we decided to abort this trail, in favor of getting out of the woods before the sun made the snow too soft to stay on top of. We doubled back and took the snowmobile track back the way we came. It was mostly downhill, and extremely fun. We were out for about 2 hours, in perfect conditions, and it really made me glad that I didn’t buy a ski pass anywhere this winter. It’s been extremely bad for snowboarding (pouring rain right now), but very good for biking.
While I am very excited to ride in 70° weather, it is only a short reprieve from winter. At least I have something to look forward to upon my return. So many more trails to explore…