Six Bubbas attended Sunday’s Church of Two Wheels 10 mile long service in Warren, Maine today.
After the melting snow cover caused me to cut short my plans for a long snowmobile trail ride on Friday, I expected that today would be the same: crumbling patches of ice, mud sections, and that sudden sinking on the front wheel scenario, complete with cockpit ejection over the handlebars. I’m very pleased to say that the subfreezing temps from last night and our 9:30 AM start set things up nice and solid.
For those of you who think that these well-attended winter rides are only suitable for us fat-tire riders, check out this video clip from the ride. Listen to the crunch of the ice beneath the tires while The Hawk comes into view on his Mukluk, closely followed by Rigger and Nate on their 26-inch-tire mountain bikes.
Another Wednesday snowstorm is predicted this week- could be at least 6″ of snow. Winter riding is still going strong in the Midcoast this Spring season.
The light was thick and golden, temps were up near freezing, and it was Friday afternoon- perfect time to hop on the Pugsley and ride 6 miles via Hobbes Pond and check on the camp. I left at 3 pm. I didn’t make it.
Right from the start it began. I was descending the hill through a huge field in back of my neighbor’s house on what I thought were hard- packed snowmobile tracks when the bike started this weird fishtailing. I was sinking in. The heat from the winter sun is apparently not so feeble anymore. Thankfully the frozen surface returned when I resumed riding in the forest, where the sun had not penetrated. Someone had been out before me lately on a fat bike. I saw the tracks. Things went really well until I came out into the open fields around the back side of Moody Pond where the afternoon sun had melted the surface enough for the 4″ wheels to sink down so far that I couldn’t pedal forward.
I detoured around the pond via Martin Corner Road, which turned out to be a bad move. No snowmobiles had been over the discontinued town road in weeks, it appeared. The only tracks were from one lonely cross country skier.
I tried riding on them but they were too narrow. I had to hike-a-bike. It sucked. Both the bike and I were sinking- me, enough to have snow coming into the tops of my boots. I was overheating, and under the delusion that I would be hit a shaded section where I could get back on my bike and ride. Nope.
It was a relief when I reached the pavement on Moody Mountain Road. I headed uphill, when I decided that it was not the best day to try and ride those 6 miles over land and pond to get there (and come back). So I banged a right on the snowmobile trail that took a steep descent onto Moody Pond. The thick ice on the pond was just what I needed to get that riding feeling back under me again. Here’s the ride:
I think it is going to be better to ride in the morning from now on, and hope that it continues to freeze at night. There will be many months to ride on bare ground coming up. Right now, I am enjoying exploring the back spaces of my town.
Last night seven fat bike riders covered 11.3 miles at a quick pace over the super compacted snowmobile tread in Lincolnville. It was a loop trip, guided by Jason and Ian, with the Stevens Corner parking lot at Youngtown road as the base. The ride went clockwise, up the big climb to Bald Rock, then over to Cameron Mtn, and down to the center. From there out to Coleman Pond and then back through a frozen swamp.
It was 11 degrees when I reached the house at 8 PM. My hands and feet hurt from the cold. I have to remember to use chemical heat packets for my hands and feet the next time I ride in this cold, which should happen Friday.
Some of the features of this ride were:
First, how surprisingly rideable the surface was. It hasn’t been this good this winter. It should stay good, with the eastern US now locked into a cold pattern , where frigid temps are expected until mid-March. Warm is good for the soul, but bad for us winter bikers.
Second, it was a gas to have this much fun riding so close to my home. My new trend is to stay close to home and have local adventures . The feeling of careening down over a smooth track from Cameron mountain and gliding over a rock garden that makes up the trail in the summertime was unique.
Third: The bizarre experience of riding along over the top of Coleman Pond was both unsettling, and exciting. Our little lights put a weak glow into the darkness, and added to the mystery.
And oh, what a deep sleep.
Our camp is a ten mile drive from the house. Finding a little authentic Maine camp so close to home was fortunate.
I have ridden my mountain bike over land to get there before. I go up over Hatchet Mountain and back down to Hobbes Pond over some abandoned roads to do that in warm weather. One adventure that I have finally completed today was riding my bicycle to camp over snow mobile trails in winter. Here’s the route- a 15 mile round trip. Checkered circle is the start and finish, the unmarked body of water is Moody Pond.
I took the car over to camp in the morning. It was 22 degrees inside. I started the wood stove and went home, with a plan to ride the Pugsley to camp to eat lunch, relax a bit , and head back home. It took me 50 minutes from the house to bike to the camp, some 6.2 miles away. I took a mix of road and trails to get there. 9 pounds of pressure in my 4″ studded 45N tires was just right until I reached Hobbes Pond where I started to slide on the shiny, slick ice.
Deflating the tires to about 3 PSI let me ride directly down the middle of Hobbes Pond and come right up to the front door of the camp. It was scary, fun, and exciting to roll over the hard ice at a good clip. I liberated an HTC cell phone ( US Cellular) that was partially frozen into the ice in the middle of the pond. Call me if it’s yours. I am drying it out – hope to locate the owner.
The camp had was now at 62 degrees, comfortable for sure. I hung out, read the new issue of Rolling Stone and cooked up a big bowl of pho. Then a slightly longer trip back, exploring new trail, and detouring around Moody Pond via the Martin Corner road- unplowed, and untracked except for some cross country ski grooves.
i was dismayed to see a string of barbed wire blocking entrance to an open field near the 90 degree turn on Martin Corner Rd.- nasty, rusted barbs at neck height.
When I reached the house, Marcia had fired up the sauna for me. That 185 degree heat was exactly right.
Riding a couple of miles on the top of a large body of water is not something that is on many people’s bucket list, but it was on mine.
We are breaking out into midwinter riding conditions here in coastal Maine. The temps have been consistently in single numbers for a few weeks now, and with diminishing snow cover, the ground can freeze more deeply. Ponds, lakes, and even rivers are also now solid, with at least two feet of ice covering most areas.
I took my first ride over Moody Pond.
It is thrilling to me to be on top of a body of water that I pass almost daily. Moody is 1.3 miles down High Street from my house. It is both scary and exciting to launch off of land onto a frozen body of water.
Riding over Moody Pond is just one of three bodies of water that I plan to cross this week. Today I hope to ride over Hobbes Pond, about 5 miles from here. I have a camp there that I hope to check on today. While I have ridden there from the house in the summer, I have never taken the direct route over Moody Pond and then the 1 mile long ride down the center of Hobbes Pond. I’ m both frightened and challenged to do it.
I’ll be taking a two mile long walk over Attean Pond in Jackman this upcoming week, then three more days of walking on the frozen Moose River, where I hope to reach the spectacle of frozen cascades on Holeb Falls. I know it’s sort of nuts, but it’s what I do.
Steve said no. Sheesh!
It was 12 degrees when we started and 12 degrees when five Bubbas completed this Sunday’s ride at the usual winter place, departing from Warren Community School parking lot.
There had been an ATV out there, probably sometime yesterday, before a couple of inches of fresh snow accumulated over the track. The going was a bit slow, more grinding of gears to get as far as we are used to going. No water at all, the streams and boggy sections are rock solid now, after more sub zero nights.
John Anders might have been working on cleaning up the trail from Stevens Corner parking lot to Tanglewood this morning. John, you do that? Also, looks like Walter might have been out earlier today.
The wind was tough- definitely over 10 MPH, putting the wind chill at below zero. Very much evident riding along the power line to get out to the woods, and on any open areas. I noticed that even in the woods, the higher points were getting hit by wind. This kept our stops short. Once, we even rode purposely slow on a flat segment instead of waiting for guys in back to catch up.
I had to wear more clothing. I had the hoodie from my wool shirt up, and wore a fleece hat over that, under my helmet- had to have sunglasses to cut the headwind. I had heat packets in my boots, and inside my handlebar pogies. The bladder tube on my Camelback had to ride inside my Windstopper jacket, which didn’t feel like it was able to stop all of the wind today. As the ride went on for a couple of hours, I was getting cold. I read on Facebook that putting the heat on your chest may be more effecting than placing the packets on all extremities. Has anyone tried to see if that makes a difference?
Maybe packets on all the extremities and a chest warmer, too, next time it is like this?
No matter, as Rigger said, ” It’s still better than drinking three hot coffees and eating muffins on the couch while watching Meet the Press.”