Great news announced today for our local community recreation area. Before now, it was down to snowshoeing in a large group of walkers doing this in order to ride bikes in the snow. Or we’d line up to ride our fat tire bikes and pound the snow down with breaking trail and multiple passes of those wide 5″ tires.
This is the brightest thing that may come my way this snowed-in day!
I was working in Bath yesterday and made a stop at Bath Cycle, where Bikeman sends bikes, parts, and accessories all over the world. This year, Bikeman moved over 100 fat tire bikes out the door. I bought my Surly Pugsley from them last year and can’t stay off it, even in the summer months. These bikes were designed for snow.
I would be heading over there to ride this weekend, but I’m still following doctor’s orders in healing up from a hernia repair exactly three weeks ago. I’m in deep mourning without my bike underneath me.
A number of those bikes are headed to East Burke, Vermont to check out the winter Kingdom Trails. Here’s the demo fleet Carver bikes put together by the shop to stock Bikeman’s booth: Eye candy for sure.
It looks to be a fine weekend weather-wise, with sun and glorious snow pack to ad to the draw.
From the Kingdom Trails web site:
“…Kingdom Trails has partnered with MTBVT.com to arrange for a day of mountain bike revelry. On March 9th we will be gathering early in the day to lead a charge against Old Man Winter. Group rides for all ability levels will be guided from the Kingdom Trails Nordic Center. Bring whatever bike you wanna ride… there will be a route for everyone from Fat Bike Singletrack Fanatics to “Just wanna get out there and ride my bike” Riders. There will be free Fat Bike Demo’s and rental bikes available as well as yummy snacks hot totties and cold beer. The Market Café will be offering lunch…”
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.
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 !