You gotta like slush and mud to be biking in Maine right now

It’ is not even winter yet, but it’s much more challenging to get outside and bike and hike in Maine right now.
First, we’ve already had two major snow storms that have resulted in serious downed limbs, branches, and even whole trees laying across our usual wooded trails.
One November storm was so brutal that we lost our electricity for five whole days. That’s what happens when you have gale force winds pushing against trees rooted atop soft ground that had not even shed their leaves. The weight of twenty inches of wet sticky snow accumulating on the branches makes the trees top heavy, resulting in uprooted messes toppling like pick-up-sticks across the countryside.
A week ago Andre, Buck, and I headed over to the Rockland Bog on snow shoes to clear out some of the usual riding loops that we have been favoring for the past twenty five years.
We all packed small saws that are surprisingly efficient at slicing through even larger trees that lay across the trails, but there were several behemoths that we left for the big boys on their snowmobiles to dispatch with their chain saws.
Here’s Andre using his snowshoes to stay on top of a particularly despicable half frozen mass of broken up ice partially frozen in nasty mudded-up water.

Andre atop ice
Andre atop ice

Sometimes there are no decent go-arounds, and you need to just work straight across, through the ruts and mud.

No place to tip over
No place to tip over

Thank God there are even a few bridges that we can cross. This is not a place to slip into the water, either on foot or a bike .

IMG_4053
Andre and Buck considering foot placement

Just before we got back to the cars in the lot along the Bog Road, we decided to just go around this particular nasty tangle of downed branches, and yes, normally we are in the habit of being able to ride right through this stream and along the path ahead.  Not going to happen.

Almost on the Bog Road
Almost on the Bog Road

Two days later, we three went back in, along with 5 other cultural iconoclasts. The Bubbas in the Woods have been stuck in a rut of sorts,  for a few decades now. We have these group rides on Sunday morning, and also Tuesday and Thursday nights, year after year- for decades. Incredible but true.  This past Tuesday night, it was pitch black at 5:15 PM, the temps were in the low 20’s, and much of what was soft and mucky was now frozen solid and slippery.

I had charged up my Turbocat handlebar and helmet-mounted lights for the event, my first night ride of the fall season. And yes, I realize my ancient Turbocat system is now old history, and after the ride I realized it would be way cheaper for me to upgrade to a Magicshine LED helmet light than to buy another replacement lead-acid battery that was acceptable way back when.

I also hope not to fall, so just in case, I wore my Fox padded shorts underneath my tights to prevent a broken hip or tailbone ( Right,  Lincoln Jamrog ?).  A recent Men’s health magazine article  about winter fat-tire biking, The Winter Sport That Burns 1,500 Calories an Hour, helped explain why I was a hurting unit just a half-hour into Tuesday night’s ride.

It was ridiculously tough going for me- churning through snow, mud, half-frozen water, and trying to see the path through partially fogged up /frozen safety glasses.  Here’s a map of the 7.5 miles that I somehow managed to finish on Tuesday night:

Bog Ride.  Green dot on Bog Road.
Bog Ride. Green dot on Bog Road.

Here’s a pic of the Hawk, taking a quick break in the middle of a particularly wet piece of the Bog ride.  The darkness at the bottom is black pools of water , interspersed between elevated hummocks of land and mounds of solid ground with trees somehow surviving in there.

The Hawk usually churns right through everything
The Hawk usually churns right through everything- not tonight, though.

It’s what we do, and I’m actually looking forward to my next ride in the dark with these guys.

I’m hoping that my new Magic Shine headlamp works it’s magic on my performance out there!

Big Bunch of Bubbas on Snowshoes

The Bubbas are feeding the mountain biking spirit right up to the doorstep of 2013.

Packing the trail
Packing the trail- photo by John Anders
Eight of us pounded down one of our riding loops over in the Rockland Bog this morning, donning snowshoes after the Midcoast region was blanketed with what must have been a foot of snow. We’re doing this in part to prepare the Bog for more winter mountain bike riding, hopefully with New Year’s day ride. This work will need to set up for a day of two, when the sub freezing temperatures will harden up the track. It’s what we are know for in these parts, riding through ALL the seasons.
Here’s the map of the hike. We’re going counterclockwise from the “S”.
Bog map
Bog map
We parked on the side of Bog Road, across from the white house on the left then went backwards 50 feet from the cars on our usual exit route. We saw no evidence of anyone else but the deer out before us, with Jason Buck breaking trail for the majority of the distance. We wound our way along old woods roads up to The Culvert, where we picked up the George’s Highland Path (GHP) and followed it uphill all the way back to the Big Pine tree, where Ian and Suzy, Walter, and John A. took Exit Ramp back to the cars.
Rick on last uphill  on Two Arrows
Rick on last uphill on Two Arrows
Nelson, Rick, Jason and I kept at it, on the GHP back down to loop back on Two Arrows and then doubling back to to Exit ramp and out.
Jason and Nelson crossing the powerline on GHP
Jason and Nelson crossing the powerline on GHP

The map and the descriptions of the trail should make it possible for any other bicyclists, snowshoeing enthusiasts, or even walkers to get out and follow our tracks, at least until the next big snow storm fluffs things up again.