So it’s going to be one of those winters. The kind where the snow is going to stay on the ground for weeks at a time and those parts that get travelled across will soon turn to ice. After the last big dump two weeks ago, the north side of everything remains snowbound while anything facing south is just brown. The lower trails appeared from a distance to be relatively clear so while the rest of the world was spending their Black Friday at the mall, it was a good day to take the bike out once again. The mud that ran up my backside, my Camelbak, and up to my helmet would bear witness to my activities as I crossed traffic on the way home.
Pedaling on ice is tricky. Unless you’ve installed posi on the bike, any uneven pressure on one side or the other will cause the rear tire to push the opposite way, spiking your adrenaline when you least expect it. When you get into the shade the brown, dirt-covered traps are just waiting for your knobby tires to cross them. Coast.
For many years now, the Open Space rangers have closed trail systems after a snow-melt cycle to try to control erosion. On a trail where hikers, bikers, and horseback riders are sharing space the ruts can get pretty deep. The temptation on the bike is to work the edges of the trail, out on the grassy areas to avoid the holes and find some traction. This of course tears up the edge of the trail and erodes the landscape further. Perhaps a bike path is a better choice this time of year.
But wait! I can justify the ride since pedaling on the softened ground takes twice the effort of a hardpacked trail, I burned off the Thanksgiving calories twice as fast. So fast in fact that, I was able to indulge in a nice Turkey sandwich brimming with mayoee goodness upon returning to la casa and retiring to the deck to bask in the sun with el perro. Gotta love Black Friday.
Two days short of my XX birthday and Fall has quickly disappeared in the Rockies after the last big snow storm. The colors of the trees are gone, given way to grays and silvers of the denuded trees. The shed leaves cover the ground and the trail, matted together by the moisture. Traveling the path at a high speed requires a good memory since the rocks are now hidden beneath the leaves, their points camouflaged by the now earth toned foliage. Slower and steadier through the twists and turns.
It’s tights and long sleeves season now. That always makes me self conscious as I ride the streets toward the trail head. Full finger gloves cut the wind but the cold is starting to work its way in until I can build up some heat. A mile or two in and temperature inside is able to counteract the increasing cold. I thought I would beat the incoming storm out but it seems instead that headed out just as the front edge was pushing over the mountains and down into the front range. Calm gave way quickly to the leading winds of the pressure change.
I’ll admit it. I hate riding in the wind. In the upright position of a mountain bike your torso becomes a sail and sometimes, no matter how hard you pedal, you don’t seem to make any forward progress. Worse yet, yesterday witnessed that weather anomaly that remains a mystery; the multi-direction wind. Normally, unless you ride out in a perfect circle, you will face one general direction going out and the opposite coming back in. Yesterday, the wind managed to track me and blow against me both ways every time I came out of the trees into the open. If the Wind ever establishes a facebook page, I will not be a fan.
Despite it all, it’s hard to beat a ride, isn’t it?
Fall in the Rockies
It was a fine Indian summer day for a ride, the kind of day that Colorado is known for. The leaves that hadn’t been killed by last week’s snow were still showing some color, even green in a few cases, and their brilliance was accentuated by the deep azure of the cloudless sky. The trails were dry and beckoning and the tunes were cranked. Usually, the music gives way to my thoughts and the thrill of the ride but this day, I thought I would track the soundtrack as the miles passed under my tires. I noted that my first climb was accompanied by Logue and the Banshee’s “Johnny Jump Up”, a rousing Irish number that demanded a sing-along.
Well, what climbs up must come down and I did…hard! My brief miscalculation and crash had the sounds of Sunny Sweeney singing “East Texas Pines” ringing in my ears on the way to the ground. A little dusting off, a draw to clean the dirt out of my Camelbak hose, and a quick bunny hop over some downed limbs and it was back to snaking-through-the-woods time followed by yet another climb. The perfect hammering song in “Lights Out”, the UFO classic done by Pat Travers cranked up as I cranked the pedals and rode up and out of the river basin. ‘Lights out, lights out in London…’
A little Marley is just the thing to catch your breath and the mellow sounds of “Satisfy My Soul” fit perfectly with the sunshine and gentle ups and downs that preceded the third climb. While another mellow tune might have fit blasting across the meadow a little better, I can never turn down Anti Flag singing “The Bright Lights of America”. It probably cut my time by half! Discuss amongst yourselves: how random is the random play mechanism in your MP3 player?
One more climb and then turn for home. The last climb was a workout to the one-two punch (should I even admit this?) of Bon Jovi and Simple Plan. Jon contributed “You Give Love a Bad Name” and the Cannucks roared back with “You Don’t Mean Anything”.
The last couple of miles back home are pretty mellow and always a good time just to listen to the tunes and turn the pedals. Bob was back as I made the turn for home and I imagine a few saw me sing along with “I Shot the Sheriff”. As I hit the lake, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes pumped up the pace with their version of “Hava Nagila”. Why don’t people keep their dogs on a leash? Finally, back on the streets toward the house the fantastic closing song of Casting Crown’s Lifesong album came on for a perfect ending to a great fall ride. Come along next time?