How (Not?) To Start A New Year

I read several blogs regularly, and one of those is Fat Cyclist. When he posted about a New Years Day ride up the Squaw Peak road, I was intrigued. I posted a comment or two and basically committed myself to ride. I questioned that commitment when the temperature this morning was 12 degrees. I bundled up, loaded the bike and headed to the ride anyway. On the drive the temperature kept dropping, hitting a low of 6 degrees at the parking area. Soon a pretty good-sized group had arrived - including 2-3 who biked up the canyon.

The road was clear (pavement) about a 1/4 mile up to the closed gate, then it was packed snow the rest of the way. I'd guess the snow was 1-1.5 feet deep at the gate. The track had been packed pretty good by snowmobiles and ATVs (4 wheelers) so the going was pretty good, at first. Then came a section with some drifted snow that bogged me down, but it wasn't very long then it was back to fairly easy riding with good packed snow. But about half way up it got tougher. There would be rutted-up spots with softer snow. In total I rode about 2/3 or more, but walked that last mile or so to the top - it was steeper with deeper, looser snow.

Rounding the bend just before the final climb to the viewpoint I could see out over the valley. The air was clear with snow blanketing everything. It was a beautiful sight.

I pushed the bike the final yards to the top and joined the stronger riders who'd made it up in much better time. We waited for the last few riders to come up then took a group shot:

Getting up was a bit of a struggle (the riding and pushing the bike) but I was looking froward to the fun ride down. Well, it was fun, but it wasn't easy - at least for me. The bike was real skittery in the loose snow and a real bear to keep upright. The top was just too loose to ride at all, but it got better as we went down. And I think I got better at riding the snow too. At one point I hit 17 mph, which felt very fast on snow. I bailed many times when the bike go out of control and even went down a few times. One time I came very close to going down hard at 13 mph, but some how stayed up.

About 2/3 of the way down I tried to plow through a snow drift, but got bogged own and bailed. Looking down I saw some granola bars and a car key - turns out it was to Fatty's bikemobile. He was happy he didn't have to call home for another key.

For fun I took a little hop and some air off the hump of snow through the gate. Then finished with the ride down the pavement. Riders milled around a bit talking, then left. It was a good crazy way to start 2008. Thanks to Kenny for spearheading the ride, and Fatty for publicizing it.

Fat Cyclist, Brad Keyes and KC Holly also wrote about the ride.


Boz said...

Our New Years ride didn't turn out to be as snowy as your's, but was cold - 5 degrees with a nasty wind. The bike that you needed was a Surly Pugsley - 4" tires are great on the snow. There were 2 on our ride, not a common sight.

KanyonKris said...

We had one Pugsly on our ride and it was impressive how well it went on the snow, but the top was still to loose even for the Pug. Glad you also got out for a ride!