In Maine’s Sunday Telegram.
There were so many Bubbas and guests on their bikes in the frozen Bog this morning that I lost count. Jason thinks there were 16. There were so many of us that the group broke apart right at the start, with most of us backtracking the Bog Road for the climb up Benner Hill into the trails that led off the powerline on top.I do know it was a Bog record, even bypassing the numbers from the three warmer seasons this year.
Why? Surely it was not the conditions. It was 11 degrees out, and in the open sections like the power line, there was wind as well, driving the wind-chilled temps into the single numbers.
How long was the ride today? Depends on who you were with. Nelson and I were toast after just 5.7 miles, but Jon Anders put up 7.1, Eric checked in with 10.5, and the Hawk trumped all comers with 12.1. These were not summertime miles. They were mostly hard earned.
What were the riding conditions? There were places where the packed and refrozen snow settled down over rock gardens and evened them out, making travel zipper than usual. However, some things were more difficult, like finding the trail. John and I found ourselves off-trail descending the first section from the power line to the wooden bridge over Branch Brook. Without a defined trail, the deep double-rutted ATV tracks led the way, but sometimes it was the wrong. The absolute best assistance winter bikers can get on their favorite trails is from snowmobiles, who pack the trail evenly, and if that surface is refrozen, it’s generally easy to stay on top and not break through no matter what type of tires you have on your bike. ATV’s left a narrow berm between the two icy tire tracks that were just deep enough to catch my pedals when I tried to ride in the slots. When I was in the berm between, refrozen footprints and deer tracks lumped things up and sometimes threw me back into the ruts.
There were 7 riders on fat-tire bikes out there today. He’s a pic of my group:
There were a few sections of trail that were sheer ice, and the guys who were riding studded tires were able to go straight over them. Fat tire bikes had an option here, which was to pull off the trail, head right into the woods along those sections, and pick your way around trees to rejoin the trail after the ice receded. I did this successfully a number of times.
Climbing out of Branch Brook, there was the biggest blow-down we’ve seen yet this year on this ride.
And finally, here’s the real deal- footage of today’s ride posted by John Anders mixed in with a ride that John and Tim Sewall took on the Warren trails the day before.
This time of year, my Twitter feed is jamming up with “Top Ten” lists from 2012. While I think it’s great to compile the best from the avalanche of information that’s that’s cascading over us, most of it is just clever advertising.
That being said, I am filtering through and blogging up the good lists. Here’s one:
My last post, the “Cycling Eight“, came from this Adventure Cycling Association list. I can see where my interest in both bicycling and camping is headed. I am not a member of the ACA, but I just requested a trial issue of their magazine.
I decided to modify the “10 Things You Don’t Need” to address backpacking.
1) You don’t need an expensive backpack. I have a pricey Arc’teryx and customer service has been a curse. Never again. Best to have something that fits well. Most packs hold up, even used ones.
2) You don’t need special Goretex/waterproof backpacking boots. They’ll plague you with blisters. Go with lighte, breathable alternatives.
3) You don’t need lots of money. In 2007, I thru hiked the AT with Lifetraveler, who also completed the trail in 5-and-1/2 months on just $2,000, and one pair of boots.
4) You don’t need “backpacking clothing”. You can outfit at a Goodwill. If stuff wears out go back.
5) You don’t need multiple sets of spare clothing. I use one set. When I reach a washer and drier, I change into my rain gear and wait for my clothes to clean and dry. If it is warm out, water sources can be a place to get water to wash, and the sun works well as a drier.
6) You don’t need a lot of stuff to cook and eat with. I use 1 pot, one spoon, and a cup.
7) You don’t even need to be physically fit. I just watched “Walking the Great Divide“, where three guys each lost at least 20 pounds in their first three weeks of backpacking. You start slow and get more efficient. Weekend warriors may need to be in better shape.
Time for me to get out and shovel away a half foot of snow.
Crazy weather here in coastal Maine in December.
I do what I can, trying for daily outdoor sessions.
A couple of days ago, it was still raining, but I had to get out- I did a 4 mile hike from the house around Moody Pond. We’ve had 4 inches of rain here in the last week. I started out walking down the abandoned Proctor Road, which is just a stream on top of mud.
After I leaped over a stream, I cut onto a snowmobile trail that led to the “closed” Martin’s Corner Road, where I was careful to stay out of the water here.
This was a big blow down from the wind a couple of days ago, which gusted to 60 MPH. I was afraid I might get electrocuted, so I pushed through thick brush where I scratched my legs on the briars.
Here’s a map of the hike. My house is just at the edge of the map, up top.
Yesterday the thermometer read 21 degrees when I left the house to join 8 other Bubbas for our regularly scheduled Sunday ride. Nate said that we’ve been able to get some good miles out each month this year, even through last winter. There was some mud out here in the lower portions of the ride, but major ice flows on the long exposed ledges up on the top of Mt. Pleasant. Not many of us were even willing to try and ride up, and chance a bone-crushing fall on the solid ice. Hike-a-bike is what I call it.
This was also the first time that we took an alternate route back down, heading way right off the summit, and snaking our way over abandoned jeep trails interspersed with dry steep granite, and low growing shrubs. Scary steep in places, but my trust in momentum and tire adhesion worked again.
I chose my fat-tired Pugsley for this ride. It continues to shine in these in-between-seasons conditions.
Lately, I have been able to keep ascending through muddy climbs and rocky stuff, even passing some of the guys who usually toast me when it’s dry and grippier. Love the white bike!
The best part of the ride for me today was the long descent at the end. You can see it starting on the elevation profile below, right about the 5.4 mile mark. I was riding behind Rigger, who waited for me half-way down. I like to follow him, because he’s excellent at picking good lines through impossible stuff. There have been some serious crashes on this downhill over the years ( Nelson comes to mind), so we all continue to watch out for each other.
I had some battery left in my iPhone, so I inserted the headphones, cranked up the volume, and had Neil Young and the Horse as my soundtrack for the ride out to the car. Do check out “Driftin’ Back”, the 27 minute extravaganza off Mr. Young’s most recent CD, “Psychedelic Pill”. I thank my peretually-musically-enhanced buddy Lock for being persistent in bringing Mr. Young to my ride today, and most every day this December.
The weaving through the winter countryside was magical today. I even pulled some holiday spirit back home with me.
My neighbor Andy and I now have a Thanksgiving tradition- an early morning bicycle ride of a couple of hours down and back through Lincolnville Center to Camden Hills State Park, where we have a few routes that we choose from. According to Andy, we did this same ride last year, when we went up Cameron Mountain and then down the back side to Youngstown Road. This time, I promised my wife I’d be ready to travel at 11 AM to my sister-in-law’s place for a family get-together, so we altered the route a bit and stuck to the multipurpose trail in the park.
There are just two more days of deer hunting w/ rifle season, so I wore a high visibility vest and tied a hunter orange bandanna to the back of my helmet.
It was below freezing on the ground when we left at 8:45 AM, and there was some black ice on the pavement, so no brakes or quick turns for a while.
The following picture was taken on the “closed” Martin’s Corner gravel road. Andy told me that there was a snapping turtle that was living in this super-sized puddle this past summer, that once advanced on him as he was riding through there.
I’m thankful today that I live here, surrounded by woods, rocks, hills, and ocean. I’m thankful I have a loving family, that I still have my health, and that I can walk right out my door on my bikes and ride, or walk to these incredible trails and hike.
Read my review below. Thanks to Philip Werner, Author of http://SectionHiker.com, outdoor writer, hiking guide, and educator for recommending it:
From time to time I report content from other sites that support the direction of my own blog.
Section Hiker is one of those places where good ideas (and sometimes good deals, and give-aways) are the standard. I recently bought a very little used, and much lighter ice axe from the author, Philip.
While I haven’t yet done any night hiking this season, the days are starting to get shorter and it is good to know that it can be done safely, while enjoying the relative solitude of the night world. I am planning a night ride on my bike this evening, and have two lights that are fully charged and ready to go.