Saturday, February 11, 2012

This isn't what a snow ride is supposed to be ...


I was excited this week when I heard it was going to snow this weekend. As much as I don't like winter and snow in general, I actually love riding in a snowstorm. And since it was more like a spring snowstorm (temps were actually above freezing the whole time it was snowing), I figured it would be a really fun ride on some snow-dusted trails.

Well, it was a really fun ride, but the trails were anything but "snow-dusted". The trail was a mess of standing water and mud, and within minutes of the start of the ride, so was I.

Camouflaged to blend in with ... well, a buttload of mud, I guess.
 So I kind of figured out that my idyllic snow ride wasn't going to be and instead I'd be back in the muck and mud much like last week. No big deal. It was actually still a lot of fun. It was liberating to ride on trails that were so muddy you couldn't hope to stay clean. As we get older, we tend to avoid situations that leave us covered head to toe in mud. We get caught up thinking about the post-ride clean-up or the possibility of ruining our clothes. So every now and then, it's kind of fun to just return to the mentality I had when I was 8 years old playing football in the yard or playing in a park up the street, when it didn't occur to me to avoid being tackled in a puddle or run around the mud instead of through it. It was just a day to play in the mud on my bike.

Playing in the mud on my bike
I should say that Wissahickon is one of the few places I can get away with this. The trails at Wissahicon are generally more robust than any others in the area - riding in the mud there will not destroy the trail, and in the few sections where it might, I just avoid riding when those areas on days like today. I wouldn't ride in conditions like today's at Nocamixon or Middle Run for sure. But Wissahickon is robust for the most part because it's trails are mostly natural. The man-made areas are the ones I avoided today. The natural sections may evolve over time due to weather, but I'm not causing erosion in these areas -- the mud is too thick and the schist fortifies the trails. So I don;t consider it irresponsible to ride there in conditions like today's. Others may disagree, but I kind of think I've earned the right to make that call here because I've been riding here for about 15 years now and haven't ever seen significant damage, or even change for that matter, caused to trails by riders or hikers.

So another day, another training ride it he books. I had a great week -- four rides and some solid training. Conditions were perfect all week (today notwithstanding) -- I had solid rides on both Tuesday and Thursday nights, both about 20 miles and, at least in the case of Tuesday night, a pretty hard ride. I finished Tuesday night's ride completely spent. That was an odd night because it was relatively warm (upper 40's), completely dry, and a full moon and yet I was the only person in the entire park all night, at least as far as I saw.

The full moon made night rides a little brighter all week
When I arrived, I was the only car parked at the Inn (which was apparently closed) and I never saw a hint of any living thing except for a few deer all night. After I finished, one other car was pulling out of the lot and the guy driving told me that it was a good thing I was done because another deer cull was starting at 9:00. So I guess that explained it, but to be honest, it didn't really -- I mean, if the hunt started at 9, and I was done with my ride by 8:30, I still don't get why everyone else avoided the park on a near perfect night. I didn't see any notices prohibiting trail use for the night. So, I don't know. Maybe everyone just decided to go someplace else ...

Anyway, training continues and the 2012 season is just around the corner. I'm getting psyched now. Don't have any specific goals or targets at the moment, and don't know if I will this season. I have a bunch of races I'm planing to do or already registered for (SSAP and the DH40 both sold out in less than a few days -- SSAP in less than one! -- but I was in and registered for both less than 20 minutes after registration opened.) I'm basically just looking forward to having some fun, riding some great courses and feeling that unique "race burn" in my legs again!

The path forward for 2012 continues to take shape.

1 comment:

  1. I am so jealous you have trails to ride that are open at night. All of our local trails close at dark and this time of year you #1-have to leave work early to get in a ride or #2-are relegated to the trainer. Night road rides were an option, until they salted the heck out of our roads. Now it's too sketchy.
    Some day I'll live near trails that are open any time I want to ride....
    That night deer hunt is seriously one of the dumbest things I've heard...still.

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