Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Bike-Ski

This weekend was so incredible in my eyes I just had to split it into two posts. Sunday night after Desolate Peas-Gah, I thought I would never want to venture into the cold again. It took me a good while to warm up sitting directly in front of the blazing fire before I was warm again. The experience was behind me and it taught me a lot about the upcoming race and what South Carolina has done to my tolerance of the cold.

Hypothermia should be on the forefront of everyone’s minds if you are attempting this race. Special plans and circumstance will have to be taken to avoid getting wet AT ALL COSTS. This is no joking matter, we will be in the dark, all alone, in the wilderness with only ourselves to rely on. Imagine, after only 9 hours how cold I was; because once the chill gets into your inner core it is close to impossible to relieve. In the race format, I would still have another 27 hours to go. Hot meals are going to be a requirement when we make it back to base camp during the race. These are the thoughts I had while warming from Saturday’s adventure.

Sunday was a day of reflection and rest.

Monday brought on another un-expected snow adventure. Shade, Obi, Kristin, Andrew, David George and I all met up at Fawn Lake for some more fun in the snow. Once again, I never expected there to be so much snow left from Wednesday’s storm. We took the dogs out on a “short loop” that ended up being pretty long from snow resistance.

Reasonover -> Lake Julia Road -> Shelter Rock -> Airstrip -> Fawn Lake

Monday’s snow riding was slightly different than Saturday’s because the snow was frosted over from a cold, cold night. So the surface of the snow provided a gentle coaxing surface that led you to believe you would just glide gracefully over the top until you made a sudden movement and you would hear the sound of the crystals tearing apart and your wheels sinking deeply into the snow causing you to increase your power to maximum thresh hold.

It was a fine Taoistic balance of quiet movements and speed that allowed your bike to glide gracefully over the surface. This was of course riding flat or uphill. Going down on this day was all fun fun fun! The first downhill was Reasonover and I took off as fast as I could go thinking the conditions would be like Sunday. That is the best part about snow though as the trail is in a constant state of flux from sunlight, heat pockets and shade.

So flying down the trail able to maneuver the bike into the deeper patches I was able to rocket down the trail in an uncontrollable slide. I had no breaks to speak of and so I just went with it. I went down pretty hard on the first descent and came up laughing. Once you went down, you just slid and slid. I actually think for the first time ever (that I have seen) there was a falling hazard in the mountains. If you fell on a steep slope that was this slippery, only an ice axe could slow you down, well that or a tree.

So it was with great joy that we came all the way down Reasonover. Shade loves the snow and his toleration of cold temps has me very worried for the summer. He has no problems wading in water that is below freezing.

After the short dog loop, Andrew and I headed back out for some more fun:

Fawn Lake -> Airstrip -> Barn Trail -> Bridal Veil Falls Road -> Corn Mill Shoals -> Laurel Ridge -> Mine Mountain

Bridal veil was looking great. Once side was frozen with snow and the actual falls side was flowing with heavy whitewater.

It was later in the evening coming down Mine Mountain and I noticed at the first tree that the snow looked funny. It had that yellow icy tint just like an early morning spring skiing slope. The snow had turned to glare ice and I barely kept it together across the slick section. I yelled back to Andrew but he didn’t heed the warning fast enough and went down with a Mike Tyson thud. I cringed as I caught the end of the fall as I turned around. I fell over and over again pressing the edge of speed for the conditions.






2 comments:

Thomas Gaines said...

I can only take Hank, the other brindle pup, riding when temps are below 70 degrees. He loves cold weather best!
BTW, I enjoyed reading about your ride in Peas-gah! That's awesome your are gonna give it a go for "The most horrible thing ever," it's way out of my league, see you at PMBAR!

ExtrmTao said...

TG,

It is way out of my league too . . .

I figured Shade would be shade ridden after spring arrives. Got get it while the gettin' is good.