But still, I was jonesing to ride since we'd had two weeks of snow and sub zero temps. So last Saturday with a break in the weather I rented a fat bike and headed out to some slick rock country south of town.
My first half mile of biking was well, not really biking. It was a push, pull and carry up a steep ravine. There used to be an actual trail before a flash flood washed it away a few years back and left a jumble of rock and scree. The ravine was icy and I was slipping all over in my old pac boots trying to carry the bike.
Once I was out of the ravine I was exposed to the wind that was just starting to blow. But it's pretty up on the 'flats' - the trail winds through juniper and limber pine along a red rock rim and finally tops out on slick rock. The only tracks I saw were those of deer, antelope and an occasional moose.
I love fat bikes, they are just plain fun. They can be squirrely in slush but using good technique helps - steering with your body and keeping an extra wide stance. Keeping a loose grip also helps because if you manhandle the bike then you are all over the trail like a drunken badger.
The thing is, I'm not great but I can ride with some finesse, except for the dang wind. It picked up out of nowhere and the 65-mph-gusts tossed me sideways into the sagebrush. I couldn't stay on the trail. Finally I admitted defeat and turned around.
I was too annoyed with being tossed around so I walked the bike, which turned out to be ridiculously hard because I was caught in a cross wind. I had to put the bike between me and the crosswind and then lean my body weight on the bike to keep it from blowing around. Still the wind would occasionally pick up the back tire of the bike and whip it around my body.
The big tires were like balloons in the wind. Wyoming is windy and sometimes you see high-wind-warning signs on our highways that prohibit "light trailers and high-profile vehicles." The snow bike fit the category of "high profile" with its monster-truck tires. Maybe a bigger person could keep the thing grounded but I couldn't.
It was crazy. The wind kept changing directions and once it lifted the bike completely off the ground. I was simultaneously cussing and laughing. I needed a tether from me to the bike, like when you were a little kid and your mom tied a string from your wrist to your helium balloon. Or something like a surfboard leash to my ankle.
My face hurt from the blowing snow and my hair whipping it. I was feeling sorry for myself that it wasn't a perfect bluebird day like yesterday - when I was at work.
|Not a bluebird day.|
The universe was laughing at me, except I don't know when to give up.
I made it back to the truck and then headed toward the mountains for another ride, this one in Sink's Canyon. It was raining at the mouth of the canyon but slowed to a light drizzle at the trailhead.
This made me happy because rain on snow is just plain yucky. The wind was blowing but once I got into the trees it was almost balmy.
Then, ta-da! The sun came out and there was a beautiful filtered light through the pine trees. It was a nice reprieve before another squall moved in and the sun started to set below the canyon walls.
Despite the not-so-perfect weather, being on a bike is always better than being in the gym. There's something about biking in the winter that makes you feel like you got one over on the 'man.' Then there's the beauty and quiet of the trails... and another season or riding. Hallelujah!
|On Chain Reaction and out of the wind.|