Saturday, January 8, 2011

Slushy roads

11.75 miles
48 degrees

Being that our slightly above freezing temperatures are going to quickly give way to sub zero in the next couple days, I decided to take advantage of the nice weather (for January in Montana) and do some pedaling in the snow.  Since our last snow storm was over a week ago and we had rain yesterday, I assumed that the roads and trails would be a little easier to ride than my Thanksgiving Day ride on the same route.  Ohhh, so wrong.  Inside Riverfront Park the hard packed trails had turned into a slushy mess making it almost impossible to pedal in anything but my lowest gears.  But it was possible and hoping that things would improve as I got closer to the road, I pressed on.  I was able to pedal most of the trail except the deepest parts.  Which poses the question, why are cross country skiers always so skinny?  I need some heavy weights to pack down the trails for me.

Anyway, in one of the tough spots I had to jump off the bike and walk.  Then I noticed that my bike computer was no longer there.  I had to turn around and retrace my steps to find the thing.  After my quarter mile detour to find my computer, I finally reached the first of the lakes in the park.  I looked at the slushy mess I was riding in, then looked at the smooth snow covered lake.  My studded tires are made for ice you know.  At first I was leery and cautious but there were deer, dog, and ski tracks all over the place.  I figured the ice was thick enough.  I gained real confidence after discovering the lake was pitted with ice fishing holes that were at least 4 inches thick.  I took off, shifting up a couple gears and circled the lake a couple times before I decided to move on. 

Shifting back down, I then rode the trail around Lake Josephine.  Out of breathe and super tired after the trail, I decided it was time to play again, this time on Lake Josephine.  Again, I was able to gain some speed but biking on the frozen lake with 4 inches of slushy snow on top is still no picnic.  I think I may have hit 6 mph which felt like flying compared to the slow progress on the trails. 

I finished playing on Lake Josephine, exhausted, wet, sweaty and ready to go home.  Then I looked at the disappointing mileage on my bike computer and determined to go another mile or so around Norm's Island.  Norm's Island is a popular dog walking area where I figured I might have better luck with the trails being packed down from so much traffic.  I was right.  I was able to shift up a couple gears and again hit 6 mph.  Flying comparatively. 

The ride home afterwords was a long one.  I was exhausted and ready to be off the bike.  I had overdressed so I was sweating and just wanted to strip my gear off and shower.  I think that has to be of the hardest 11 miles I've ever done, with exception of riding to the Beartooth Highway Gate above Red Lodge in below 40 temperatures in a t-shirt and shorts after having already ridden 50 miles in the rain.