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More winter mountain biking: Nebo Ridge

Monday, January 4th, 2010

Well, the snow in the forecast for the weekend never materialized, but the temperatures did stay low enough to allow for some fantastic mountain biking. On Sunday, I headed out to Nebo Ridge, one of my favorite trails in the area. It was nearly a three-hour ride, with temperatures in the teens, and single-digit windchills. Fortunately, it was sunny outside which helped a little bit.

Nebo Ridge is a long enough ride that I have never done it during the winter. And the trailhead is remote enough that if we did have snow, it would be hard to get to. So, I felt lucky that I got to ride this trail in January.

The trail starts at the bottom of a big hill. There was quite a bit of ice at the bottom, but once I started up the hill, the ice dissipated. The trail was nicely frozen and crunchy, though there were some frozen tire ruts throughout the trail that made it extremely rough.

The climb went better than I expected. I made myself stop a couple of times to catch my breath, after the coughing fits I experienced after a long climb on another cold ride. These breaks seemed to help, and I was able to avoid any major coughing fits.

After climbing for a while, I reached this sign. I was headed out on the Nebo Trail and would come back up on Combs “Road” (which is more of a fire road than an actual road).

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After the long climb, the trail throws some rather large rolling hills at you. These were a lot of fun and I once again felt that the 29er’s increased momentum was helpful. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail about the rest of the trail, the first half seems like it’s mostly climbing and rolling hills, but the last 2 1/2 miles are a real blast, as they’re almost entirely downhill.

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When I reached the end of the trail, I stopped for a snack. I grabbed a Clif Bar from my Camelbak and tried to take a bite. Frozen solid! I literally could not get a bite. I held it in my hands for a few minutes, and eventually warmed it up enough that I could take small bites. I am going to have to find a better snack food for cold weather. I’m not particularly fond of energy bars, but I usually buy them anyway because they are convenient. Any suggestions for snack items that won’t freeze would be much appreciated.

At this point, I had a decision to make. I had considered riding back along the trail, or riding down to the road to do a loop with a few miles of paved/gravel/fire roads. Ultimately, I decided to make the loop. I knew it would be colder down on the road, so I put on an extra layer. As I put my Camelbak back on, the buckle for the waist strap broke. Damn!

After my break, I felt very cold for a few minutes. I got a little worried that I wouldn’t warm up again, but I did after a few minutes.  The road section has a very different feel from the trail, the scenery is a bit more varied, and the road goes by a creek, some farms, etc.

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I reached Combs “Road”, a fire road of sorts, and here you have to pass through a gate. No cars back here. There were a few creeks to cross, which gave me some pause. They were icy, as were parts of the “road,” and I knew if I got my feet wet, I’d get cold. I made it through a few creeks, some of which had ice on them. I tried to ride across the last creek, but the ice cracked and my wheel fell in. I had to put my feet down to catch myself, and they got wet. Fortunately the water was only a few inches deep, but it was COLD.

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This is the one that got me

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After a while, I reached the end of the “road” and had a tough climb back up to the trail. This climb is hit or miss for me: sometimes I make it, sometimes I don’t. It was hard, but I made it up.

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After that there was a bit more climbing and then I reached the trail proper and had a rough mile and a half downhill to the parking lot.

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This was a great ride, and as I do more winter rides, I gain confidence that I can do many of the same rides I love, even if it’s cold outside.

6 Responses to “More winter mountain biking: Nebo Ridge”

  1. Chris Says:

    Apparently no long term damage from the wet foot incident, eh? Seems like that would have taken a bit of joy out of the ride.

  2. furiousBall Says:

    What a beautiful ride, I really need to get my bike ready for riding.

  3. Apertome Says:

    Whoops, I meant to resolve the wet foot thing. My feet were cold after they got wet, but it was only about 30 minutes back to the car at that point, so no real problems there. If it’d happened earlier in the ride, I would have been worried.

  4. bill Says:

    Great photos! Nebo/Hickory is about my favorite local spot – not as flowing as BCSP, but typically more of an adventure, especially during the winter. Rode Nebo, 20, 18, 4, 10, 12, 21, Nebo on Saturday – good to know you were sweeping on Sunday just in case my frozen carcass needed to be located!

  5. Apertome Says:

    Bill: geez, that’s a long ride! Glad to know I wasn’t the only one getting out there this weekend. I agree, the HNF trails give you more of a sense of adventure than BCSP. We are lucky to have both nearby.

  6. Jon Grinder Says:

    When it comes to snack foods which won’t freeze, I usually carry those little peanutbutter snack crackers (made by Keebler, among others), for salty goodness or fig bars for the sweet tooth. Fig bars get really stiff, but not so hard that you can’t bite them.

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