Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Snowy ramble

Monday, December 6th, 2010

Every once in a while, I’ll go into a ride without earth-shattering expectations, and it will blow my expectations out of the water. This was one of those rides.

This weekend, we got our first significant snow of the year here. It started snowing Friday night and when I woke up on Saturday there were several inches of snow on the ground. The snow was around 5″ thick on our porch, but probably more like 3″ on the ground, due to the ground being warmer than the air.

I love riding in snow, so in the afternoon I set out for a ride with nothing more than a vague idea of where I wanted to go. The temperature was right around freezing, so the snow was very wet, and most of the roads were wet but not snowy or icy. Still, I took the Trucker out, with the studded tires mounted, as I was unsure what to expect once I got away from town. Also, I had notions of riding on a rail-trail, which was bound to be snow-covered. By the end of the ride, I had ridden 19 quite hilly miles, over the course of a bit over two hours. Here is a map of my ride.

Immediately, the ride took on an ethereal quality. The ground was blanketed in white, snow fell hard from the sky, sticking to my bicycle and myself.  The air was thick with moisture and a constant cloud of snow.

I entered the woods on the Bloomington Rail-Trail.  The snowy trail followed Clear Creek for a while.

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These horses appeared to be kissing.

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Here’s my bike, just a couple miles into the ride, already snow-covered.

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I also spotted a beautiful Heron in Clear Creek.

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After a bit of that, I exited the woods and got on some roads. There was very little traffic. Movement was slow due to the conditions and the extra drag created by the studded tires, but I was in no hurry.

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The views on one of my favorite roads, Victor Pike, were even more stunning than usual, though visibility was low due to the falling, blowing snow.

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I love the swooping curves of the road. Down. Left. Up. Right.

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I passed another part of Clear Creek, beautiful again as it ran under the tracks.

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My bicycle had picked up a lot of snow, especially my Acorn handlebar bag.

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The snow picked up. It mostly melted on contact with my clothing. At one point a clump of snow fell from just above my face. Apparently it had been accumulating on my cap.

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I stopped for yet another creek view. What could be more beautiful than a snowy creek?

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Now I had a hell of a climb. I took my time and spun up in a low gear. Even though there was more snow on the road here, my studded tires didn’t fail me. These things are amazing.

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After the long climb, I passed a quarry and saw this wild, dilapidated, overgrown old house.

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The road conditions took a turn for the worse. A couple of cars went by. I hadn’t seen anyone for quite a while. The road had more and more snow on it.

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And, the snow fell harder and harder. You can see large snowflakes falling in the shot below. I was getting a bit wet from it, but I was covered well enough to avoid feeling too cold or wet.

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Now I had more climbing ahead of me — this time, with more snow on the road.

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Since I hadn’t plotted a route, I started to think about where I should to next.  I decided to turn on Harmony Road. I saw some beautiful red berries along the side of the road.

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The snow was still coming down pretty hard. But I was having a blast. I have to say that my gear worked better than I expected in these conditions. I never felt cold, even though it was chilly and wet. The better I figure out how to handle different types of conditions, the more fun I have. I was grinning moronically while descending on slick roads with wet snow pelting me the entire time!

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I enjoyed seeing this excessive but pretty fence and gate.

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But this perfect barn and the beautiful horses were even better.

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The snow just came down harder and harder. The roads got better, then worse, then better, then worse again. Having studded tires is such a treat. I rode with confidence through all of it.

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Soon I was on my way home, more or less, but I had plenty more scenery to enjoy. Ponds …

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Hills …

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Hay …

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I stopped by a cemetery for a brief break. What’s crazy is, the photo below is straight out of the camera, in color mode. It just turned out nearly entirely grey.

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The Trucker performed admirably. I did have a few problems with my derailleur clogging with snow and ice, and ice collecting on my brakes. But otherwise, the bicycle was fantastic.

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My poor handlebar bag was just a magnet for wet snow. Actually, I think it looks awesome this way.

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I got back on the bike. I rode up another hill …

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… and past another quarry. I couldn’t resist the reflections of the snowy concrete blocks in the water.

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My ride back was typified by more creek scenery, and more hills.

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And soon, I was back on the rail-trail.

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And then, home. Here’s my handlebar bag at the end of the ride. It has since thawed and dried out nicely.

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What an incredible ride! At the end of the day, I rode over 19 miles in just a bit over two hours. It felt like more in terms of both exertion and reward. I also enjoyed going out without a plan. Normally, I have a route planned before I go out.

I can’t wait to do more snow riding. I just love the stuff!

How about you? Are you still getting out and riding?

7 Responses to “Snowy ramble”

  1. Randy Rasa Says:

    Riding as the snow is falling, as long as winds and temps aren’t too extreme, can be a magical experience indeed. The world looks and sounds so different.

    We haven’t had any snow yet here in Kansas, but I find myself looking forward to it.

    Enjoyed your post!

  2. Chris Says:

    Lovely images. Those kinds of rides are rare in these parts, so the sensations are especially startling when it happens. I can relate to your impressions.

  3. freewheel Says:

    Looks like it was an awesome snow ride! Did the fenders help or hinder with the falling snow?

  4. David Crowell Says:

    Very cool pictures. We haven’t had nearly that much snow here in Louisville yet. I’m running the studded tires on my LHT now too, but I think I put them on prematurely.

  5. Apertome Says:

    freewheel: The fenders were definitely helpful. Without them, I would have been sprayed with snow, water, salt and sand from below, as well as snowed on from above.

    David: I put mine on last week. At first, I thought it was premature too, but I saw this snow in the forecast and I ended up being glad I had them on. I could probably take them back off now, but I like the extra confidence, and I don’t want to swap my tires out constantly anyway.

  6. David Gardner Says:

    Great pics and commentary! You could use them for calendar pics.

    Dave

  7. Doug Says:

    I agree, great pics. That’s my kind of ride. I love riding in the snow.

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