Hiking and Biking in December

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.

Proctor Road

Proctor Road

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.

Blow down on Martin's  Corner Road

Blow down on Martin’s Corner Road

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. screenshot 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.

Nelson, Eric, and Jason on the windblock

Nelson, Eric, and Jason on the windblock

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.

Eric, Nelson, and Craig Mac on the powerline

Eric, Nelson, and Craig Mac on the powerline

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. screenshot 2  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.

Where to ride mountain bikes during hunting season in Midcoast Maine?

How about Camden Hills State Park?

We’ve been spared the ravages of Hurricane Sandy here in midcoast Maine, but I haven’t been willing to ride since Sunday in the off and on rain and wind.  In addition, deer hunting season runs for a month right now, with hunting allowed from dawn to dusk 6 days of the week. There are a LOT of hunters roaming the woods right now, some hidden in tree stands as well.  People get shot every year for just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Enough said.

The internet is a wonderful thing.  I need to ride, and put up a request to find some riding buddies this afternoon on the “Bubbas in the Woods”  Facebook page where I got a bite from John Anders.  He suggested we ride at 4 PM in the Camden Hills. I was there, but forgot to pack my lights.  John had an extra set he loaned me.

So, is Camden Hills a safe place to ride a bike in the woods in November?

A check on the laws revealed that hunting is not permitted at any time at any State Historic Sites or Memorials, as well as the following State Parks: Andrews Beach State Park; that portion of Bradbury Mountain State Park west of State Route 9; Cobscook Bay State Park: Crescent Beach and Kettle Cove State Parks; Damariscotta Lake State Park; Ferry Beach State Park; Holbrook Island Sanctuary State Park; Nickerson Lake State Park; Owls Head Light State Park; that portion of Quoddy Head State Park within 1,000 feet of the lighthouse; Reid State Park; Sebago Lake State Park; Shackford Head State Park; Two Lights State Park; and Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park.

Hunting is not permitted between May 1 and September 30 at Camden Hills State Park, where “discharging of any weapon is prohibited from or within 300 feet of any picnic area, camping area or campsite, parking area, building, shelter, boat launch site, posted trail or other developed area.”

That’s it.  So you could actually encounter legal hunters in the Park in November.  We didn’t see any hunters on this Friday afternoon, nor did we see any hikers, staff, or even any other cars in the Stevens’ Corner parking lot.  We still wore bright clothing, and were often talking loud and whooping like hell on the ride.

Here’s a YouTube clip of me and John riding our fat tire bikes right now in Maine. I had no idea he was putting this together, and I like his music selection. Take a break to watch us have a superb time on our Pugsleys. And crank up the volume !

I’ve also included a map of the ride:

Parked at the top, turned around on the bottom

Fat tire bike hits the Bog

Way to go 2012 !
Woke up this morning to a snow-free landscape where the outdoor temperature come up to 50 degrees. I headed over to join the ever-ready-for-outdoor-action Bubbas in Rockland for a three hour fun-festival featuring the newest member of the group- my brand new Pugsley snow bike.

The Pug

I’m immensely pleased with the bike’s initial performance.
This bike is a heavy one, weighing in at some 35 pounds, primarily due to the huge footprint of the highly aggressive Nate knobbie tires that are mounted to 4″ wide rims. I learned how much air these tires need from Ian, who has a Salsa Mukluk. It’s not necessary to obsess with tire gauge. Ian told me to just squeeze the thing- should be sort of squishy. That was it.
The first test of the day was the road climb up to the trail head, which was no problem at all. As soon as I entered the mostly frozen, rutted trail, the rigid-framed bike settled into a comfortable pattern- churning ahead, sliding into the low spots, and sticking to the sloped sideways and the up and down ledges that we encounter here in coastal Maine.

Andre, Ian and the ice

Once this thing is rolling, it seems to keep rolling, and there wasn’t much out there today to stop it. Back in the parking lot some of the other Bubbas remarked that I appeared to be faster today. I cleared sections of this ride that I have been struggling with for what, fifteen years? I’m no fitter so far in 2012, so could it be the fat heavy bike that came to the front today, in conditions that had nothing to do with snow?
Check out a map of this ride, with statistics:
Rockland Bog 1/1/12 on Strava.com. It turned out to be a 7.4 mi ride that I did today, January 1, 2012.