Here in Spokaloo our ground is covered in many inches of snow, but a big meltdown is on the way including 2" of rain in the forecast. Saturday I took my fatbike out while there was still snow to ride over, thinking it could be my last chance this winter for a good local snow ride. I was off work sick mid-week and still not feeling up to par; I finally left the house around 1:00pm on the venerable Pugsley Neck Romancer. It's set up up for commuting with front and rear lights, which I almost took off. It's under 20F and I'm wearing jeans over smartwool thinking I won't be out too long. No time to put on the gopro, so I hope I don't have any epic wipeouts or get chased by coyotes and miss getting it on camera. As I head out I see I forgot my trustworthy Garmin Edge Touring. My phone is out of the way in a back pocket of my jacket. This ride will just have to be undocumented!
I told Debbie I'd be gone a couple hours at most, just ride to Albi/Merkel and tool around the flat area between the ridge and Aubrey Parkway that is part of Riverside State Park. And I stick to that plan. At first. The first half of the Merkel Trail I'm on and off the bike. Foot traffic has carved out a very narrow path and I'm having trouble staying on it due to a combo of my great bike handling skills and the front tire's delayed turning response. It wants to keep going straight when I want to turn. It's all worth it though when I make it to the downhill section leading to the flat area. A fun little spin, I try not to get going too fast.
On flat ground, the trails have been carved out by walkers and skiers. It's prit near perfect snow biking. After a bit I end up at Rifle Club Rd and the north edge of the flat area. The plan was to turn around, head back on a few different trails, but instead I hop on Aubrey Parkway and ride to Seven Mile Rd. It feels good to ride on the smooth packed roadway and keep a steady speed. I need to build up some endurance, anyway, in case there's a gran fondo in my future. At the Seven Mile bridge I can turn around, but I'm so close to the Centennial Trail and Riverside State Park across the river I just have to go check it out.
I turn off the road at the new parking lot by the old airstrip and hit the trails. Whoa, these trails are great! I can't tell you exactly what route I took, but it went from Trail 25 (of course) to a 2-lane trail, looping out and around and ending up at the Wilbur Trailhead. This was some of the best riding I've had out there - none of that slogging through deep unpacked snow that makes you want to quit snow biking. I pull out my phone and see it's 3:30. Hmmm, have an hour or so of daylight left, maybe I should head back.
I could either take the Centennial Trail to the Bowl and Pitcher to home or ride back the way I came. I decide to go back the same way, since I wasn't sure what condition the Centennial is in further down the trail. Back on Aubrey Parkway, my legs are starting to feel it, and it's not as easy pedaling as on the way out. My hands, inside a wool liner and 4-fingered gloves, are getting cold. I'm wishing I had got those insulated pogies. My feet, even inside light liners, wool socks, and winter boots, are getting tingly. If I had my garmin with me, I'd know what the temp is. But it's not a life or death situation, as I'm riding past some nice houses along the river inside city limits.
"Just a couple hours at most". Yep.
I have to walk up most of the Merkel Trail and can't stay on the bike for more than a few feet at time. It's a long fricking haul. Somebody really needs to widen this path, and I try a bit with the fat tires. Finally, I make it back to the start of the Trail behind the baseball fields and it's getting dark. I'm glad I kept the lights on the bike! Just as I get out my phone to text Debbie, she texts me to see if I'm ok. Yup, just about home. She tells me the Seahawks game just ended and there are a lot of idiot drivers out there. Luckily, the sidewalks by the Naval Reserve and/or VA Hospital on Assembly are plowed, and when they end I cross the street and head through the residential section to get to Wellesley. A few more blocks and I'm home.
It's after 5 when I get upstairs and plop down on the couch. I think I overdid it.
Edit: Monday, my nerve endings are on fire, 9F outside, but I think I'll head out for a quick ride. Just an hour or so.