Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Winter mixed-terrain ramble

Monday, January 11th, 2010

On Saturday afternoon, I headed out for a ride with only a vague idea of the route I wanted to do. I ended up spending about 2 1/2 hours riding gravel roads, trails, fire roads, and paved roads … and even a bit on a frozen lake. I took my new mountain bike on this ride and once again, it fared very well.

This was a drive and ride situation, I wasn’t sure how the roads would be, and this let me get to the area where I wanted to ride in time to actually do some riding there.

I parked the car on a paved section of road, but it immediately turned to gravel. The gravel parts had snow on them, compacted somewhat by cars, but fortunately not icy.

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I reached a lake, and could see that some people had been out on its frozen surface, ice fishers and sledders, and some deer. I walked out a bit on the ice myself to check it out. Some holes had been made and you could see the ice was about four inches thick.

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After testing the ice thickness, I went back and got my bike (visible in the photo below, by the shore). I wanted to ride on the ice a little.

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I was headed across the lake, on the left side of the below photo. I considered trying to ride all the way across, but I wasn’t sure the ice was uniformly thick.

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I got enough of a sense for riding on the ice to want to do more of it. It’s just something you have to be very cautious about. I stayed within the area where others had already been, and there were several holes where I could confirm that the ice was thick.

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Making tracks on the lake

After that unique experience, I got back on the road. The route across the lake would’ve been a lot easier, but I just wasn’t sure about it.

After that, I had some more wonderful gravel riding.

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I made it over to the area I noted above, directly across that part of the lake …

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… and looked over at a ridge on the other side of the lake, which I would later climb up, and then ride down.

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I rode on, and the scenery remained quite breathtaking.

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I turned and rode on paved roads, briefly, which were relatively clear by comparison …

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… before turning onto another gravel road. The sign said “No Outlet,” but that depends on your mode of travel, and your willingness to make your way through the woods on rough fire roads and horse trails. On my bicycle, and abundantly willing, I planned on riding through.

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Around this time, my water bottles started to freeze. I had to bite down on the valve to crack the ice, and take frequent drinks to keep them from freezing shut.

The fire road/trail was just wonderful and, riding through the powdery snow was fairly easy, even if it was slick at times. Some places had footprints, but it was wide enough that I could make my own tracks off to the side. In addition to human footprints, I followed deer tracks literally for miles. Apparently, deer use trails, too! Later, I also encountered some ski tracks.

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I stopped for another drink of water and noticed the sun was setting over a distant ridge.

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At this point, I was almost finished. The trail spit me out onto a gravel road, in an odd rural neighborhood. I saw a very ramshackle house for sale,  with an RV parked near it.

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I rode down the hill …

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… and soon, I was back at my car. I have to say, this was the best ride I’ve done in some time. It was cold, and challenging, but it was also incredibly beautiful. Riding in the snow is an experience you can’t get any other way.

8 Responses to “Winter mixed-terrain ramble”

  1. Randy Says:

    I’ve been sorely tempted to try riding on iced-over lakes here in Kansas, but haven’t braved it. It’s more than a little scary to think of breaking through, especially when you’re alone. (Plus, I wouldn’t want to lose the bike!)

    Enjoyed the pics!

  2. Chris Says:

    Loved the sunset bicycle portrait. There were many fantastic images, but the bicycle was clearly proud to be out in the woods.

  3. Dave Says:

    Ahh…I think I recognize that lake and secret “no outlet” road…sounds (and looks) like a great ride! I’m very paranoid about ice; you’re right about the lack of uniformity when freezing. If you go again, please do it before things warm up – one day of bright sun and temps even in the 20s will start to work on melting the ice in certain spots. And, of course, I’ll do what I can to provide you with a little company once I return to town…and once it warms up a little bit. Great recount of the ride, and beautiful pics. I’ve used cross country skis on that entire “no outlet” road, and it’s about perfect for that sport, too. Enjoy!

  4. Chandra Says:

    Great photos of the sunset! I wouldn’t expect anything less from ya 🙂

    BTW. I have the same shox on my (er…) my daughter’s Cannondale F-6.

    Peace 🙂

  5. Redbike Says:

    Thankfully it rarely gets cold enough here (England) to freeze a lake thick enough to let you ride on it.

    I still haven’t got around to fitting proper tyres to my 29er. However, they cyclo-cross tyres i’m using are working brilliantly on these mixed terrain rides. (Fire-road / tarmac / none rocky singletrack).

  6. furiousBall Says:

    there’s those fictitious tires again

  7. Tim Says:

    1. the pics of the bike with the sun behind is pretty amazing

    2. you’re welcome to come down and visit us and make KY one of your other states. we’ll host a good one for you.

  8. Apertome Says:

    Tim: KY is definitely a possibility, in fact I almost set my goal to 3 because NC is a foregone conclusion and KY is very likely to happen, as well. Not sure what the 3rd would be, in that case …

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