Thursday, November 8, 2012

Snow rider

I finally have a week under my belt that felt like winter. There's still not enough snow in town to even justify beating up on rock skis out on the trails, however, the Powerline Pass Trail has very good early season coverage. Though there's no real grooming up there, skiers and snow bikers have packed in the trail quite nicely, and overflow that glaciated has made a thick armor to bury most of the jagged rocks. A few are still poking through, and at night, are basically impossible to avoid, but that's after all, what old skis are for. Dan and I did a classic ski in a hard snowfall on Monday night, and Tuesday, under clear skies, I went back out. Under star-light, Ptarmigan Peak, freshly coated the night before, surrounded by heat-sucking single-digit air, looked more Himalayan than Anchorage Front Range. It's cool to be able to feel that way, 10 minutes from home.
Dan joined me again on Wednesday and we skate skied, finally. It was nice to remember what skiing was like on the old fish scale classic skis, but blasting along on skates is way more fun.
Tonight I joined Ethan for a ride in Far North on snowy single track trails using my Trance with studs.
Winter riders brag that Anchorage has more single track in the winter than summer. They aren't exaggerating. Trails that cross swamps and bogs and are all but un-used in summer, are fair game this time of year. Ethan and I appeared to be the first to ride one such trail this evening, weaving our way through tussocks and stalks of grass taller than a man is high while ridding over smooth but thick ice in a swamp between two ridges.
Snow biking, once a fringe sport, has exploded in Anchorage. With temps hanging out in the low 20s tonight, there were lots of folks out. I see riders all the time on my skis when on the multi-use trails, but when they pass me or vice-versa, they are likely just connecting segments of single track, much as I do in the summer.
Despite some rivalry with friends who ride fat tires in winter, I don't really have anything against winter biking. I'm 100% sure that if I were to ever ride a fat tire bike in true winter conditions (there's still such thin coverage one can't describe what we have now as that) I would love it.
The theorem is simple. I love bikes: thus, I would love winter biking.
The issue, is that I love skate skiing too.
I'm still fairly new to skinny skiing, so it's a challenge and I see lots of progress from year to year. It's nice too to have seasonal hobbies, and helps prevent burn out. In years like last too, where we had lots of snow, skiing seemed especially optimal. With one storm rolling in after another, the snow bikers struggled to keep trails packed in. Skis don't have that problem thanks to grooming. That was record-breaking though, and in other years bikers don't have that issue.
Brian loaned me a set of poagies, the big mits over the bars. These let riders where thin riding gloves underneath instead of bulky gloves that may be hard to shift and brake with. They are toasty.

I took my 10-year-old Cygo Lite I don't think I've used in maybe 7 years and duct taped it to an old helmet. The battery only lasted an hour. Go figure. I expected that and brought a cheap spare that worked fine.

Hilltop is blowing snow. It may be a wee little hill, but I love that I can hear snow guns from my house this time of year.

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