Now, I don’t get up early on a Saturday morning for much; but I do like to ride my bike which was just about enough motivation. When I looked at the thermometer out my kitchen window, it was only 12 degrees (Fahrenheit). Not exactly the most enticing temperature. Still, the clouds were almost non-existent, and it looked like it was going to be a good day. My daughter was already up and wanting to go.
The big question was: What do I wear?? Being too hot can be uncomfortable, but being cold actually hurts. I read the forecast for the day a few times and tried to plan out what I would need. I usually get it wrong, so I piled on a few layers. The hardest thing I have to deal with is my feet. I can be overheating all over, but my feet will still be painfully cold. Old wool Army socks seemed to fit the bill. It was a bit strange packing the bikes in the back of the wagon while there are still snowbanks in the driveway.
It seems like I’m always late for everything. We arrived at the Kingdom Trails Nordic Center quite a bit later than I wanted; but, thankfully, things weren’t happening yet. Emma and I registered and tried to get a sense for what the schedule would be for the morning. They had plenty of food on-hand (homemade doughnuts!). Quite nice for an event that is only asking for donations.
Riders were broken up into 3 or 4 groups: one group was going to ride easier terrain, another more moderate and another group was for fat tire bikes. I think there might have been a fourth group that was going to be doing some more technical single-track or something, but I never saw them. Emma went with the first group along with one of her friends. I opted for the second group since I didn’t have a fat bike or studded tires.
The conditions were absolutely perfect. Earlier in the week we had a thaw and received quite a bit of rain followed by a couple of inches of snow. They must have groomed the trails as the temperatures dropped because all of the X-C ski trails we rode on were a perfect, dense corduroy. There were some patches of ice, but they were the exception. The patches that were there had enough texture that it never presented a problem for the bike, even without studded tires. You really couldn’t have asked for better conditions. My summer “mud” tires were ideal. Even the climbs provided enough traction that we didn’t need to walk any hills.
The group I was in had about 15 riders altogether. I knew a fair number of people in the group, but there were still a few who had traveled from outside the area – mostly from northern Vermont. About half way into the ride we stopped in Magill fields where they had a camp fire and quite a bit of food and drink. The doughnuts and cider were great, but the idea of beer or vodka mid-morning just isn’t my thing.
After hanging out and talking for a little while, we hit the trails again. This time we circled around some trails on the other side of Pinkham Rd. This started off with a really long downhill section that seemed to go on forever. I followed a woman on a Pugsley through the descent and gained new appreciation for those fat tires. We then crossed the road back to the other side of the trail system and reversed much of what we rode earlier in the morning. It was a blast. Things were starting to warm up a bit and patches of the trail were started to get soft. We climbed back up towards the touring center to end the ride. Unfortunately, I had to leave shortly after lunch and was unable to stick around for the 6X race. I hope to link to some photos from that if I can find some on-line.
This is the most mileage I’ve put on the black Jabberwocky frame. I love the way that bike handles. It will definitely be worth a review of the frame once I have some more mileage and a few races on it. Still, after seeing so many fat bikes in action, I now have a renewed bike envy for a Pugsley or Mukluk. I’ll be saving up any loose change I might have towards one for next winter.
Overall, I had a lot of fun. I got some great riding in and met a few new people. I really hope that Kingdom Trails and others are able to keep this event going in the future. While the attendance was pretty good for a bike event in the winter, it would be great to see it grow a bit more.