(I'm in red in the back, 4th from the right.)
Kenny's New Year Squaw Peak Hill Climb went well this morning.
I left my house around 9:30 am on my mountain bike. The city streets were dry. It was cold (around 20 F), but I had on about the right clothes and layers so I wasn't uncomfortable.
At the mouth of Provo Canyon I realized I left my water bottle at home and I had no money to buy water at the gas station. Not a big concern since I don't sweat much riding in the cold. As I rode up the paved trail along the river I was surprised to see the drinking fountain still running - I stopped and drank like a camel.
Near Squaw Peak Road I trudged up a slope to a road that crosses the river - then crossed the highway to the parking lot. It was a few minutes before 10 am and a few others were there. I visited with Aaron, said hello to Elden, Mark A., Bob and a few others.
A little after 10 am we lined up, Kenny gave us some instructions and off we went.
The first mile was nice, dry pavement. Then we moved onto snow at the gate. The packed snow held up (for the most part) and the wind wasn't blowing so it was pretty good riding this year. It was overcast, and while I like to see the sun, it kept the snow from getting too mushy (and kept Bill's shirt on) so I say it was a good thing.
I rode with Bob for a while until we were passed and Bob latched onto the passer's wheel, but I was happy with the current pace so I didn't. I caught up to Heather and we rode together, traded leads, and walked in places that either the snow was too loose or the effort too high.
I was motivated to stay on the bike as long as possible. Partly from pride, but mostly because my cleats packed up with snow the instant my shoes touched down and it was a pain to clear them and get clipped back in again.
Eventually we reached the top as the group photo was assembling.
Adam lining up the shot with southern Utah Valley in the background.
The rider (uh, walker carrying his biker) is Bobby. He sold his mountain bike a few months ago and all he had to ride was his cyclocross bike. It worked OK down lower where the snow was harder packed and the slope not as steep, but about half way up his skinny tires were sinking in a lot. He hoofed it up the last slope 'cross style. Way to stick it out!
After the group shot, the downhill follies began.
The temperature had risen and the snow was starting to get mushy, but it was still fairly solid. The top was the most loose and chewed up, and I just bumbled my way down, but it got better below the Tee and I mounted up (and got clipped in after a minute or so banging my shoes and pedals).
At first I took it pretty slow, but a little ways down I got a wild hair and started going faster and faster. It was a gas! I just stayed loose and hoped for the best. I took it slower on corners and the really chewed up spots. I had one scare when the rear wheel slipped into a groove and sent me sideways, but I stayed with it and some how stayed up. On one fairly smooth, straight section I hit 25 mph. It was a mild rush going that fast on snow.
On the last sharp turn my luck ran out. I eyed what I thought would be a groove I could ride around the turn, but the bike found a different track and the divergence in trajectories caused the bike to slip out and down I went. The snow was more like ice here and I landed hard on my right shoulder and smacked my head (man, that would have really hurt without the helmet!). But I was OK and got right back up. Racer was kind enough to slow and ask if I was OK.
Regrouping at the end of the snow (photo from Heather)
I finished the last 150 yards of snow. I bunny hopped the hump at the gate to get a little air and land on pavement and stopped with the group. Everyone had big grins on their faces and we talked about the thrills and spills. When most of the riders made it down, we rode out the pavement to the bottom of the road.
Then we headed to Borders for some hot chocolate and coffee - Kenny's treat (thanks Kenny!).
After a nice cup of hot chocolate and chatting, I pedaled home for a total of 20 miles.
Sometimes snow rides are fun because of the novelty. But thanks to the good snow conditions and company, this was simply a good, enjoyable ride. It felt good to be on the bike and the snow riding was the icing on the cake.
Thanks, Kenny, for putting the ride together!