Sunday, April 6, 2014

April Fools Ride

Fatbike & Ermine

April 5th-not a date one is really supposed to be still riding in snow. But as recent memory recalls, last year was even more unusual-the first turkey season found me slogging thru six inches of snow in search of the big “V” of a tom turkey-few were found. But this year-come on, really? So many days of record minus 30 and deep snow that seemed to never end (not that I mind that!) but it IS April. Just to give us all one last kick in the pants, Mother Nature tossed another wintery mess our way this week. Rain, sleet, driving snow and wind-not exactly what us cyclists want to see. But for some of us, having a fatbike in the stable, the snow affords us one last “one last ride.”

With morning temps on this day hovering between 10 and 15, I could be assured the nearby forest lanes and snowmobile trails would be frozen down. A 3” deep fresh blanket of snow covered everything and was unbroken save for a very occasional deer, coyote and ermine track. As most rides start out, I had a plan in mind of where my venture would take me. But as the dead end road turned into a skidder trail, the effort required to pedal forward was a bit much, nixing my undertaking. Option B was a shorter route- just as much work, but I figured I could slog through and make it back alive.

Fatbikes are perfect for snow riding, but several inches is tough-my nearly walking pace spinning the granny gear was humbling, but also allowing me to take everything in. Rain had preceded the snow, so the forest was coated in jewel-like crystals. Every branch glaze coated with mini icicles and frost clinging to smaller brush. There is a certain joy in laying down the first tracks in snow, evidence of one exploring in uncharted territory-kinda. A few critters beat me to it for it is their home, anxious to find a few nuggets of food here and there I suppose and for the steeping sun to melt it all away. I'd been tired of snow too, but for now, it provided a clean sparkling surface to ride on.

A county park was ahead and relief expected as I could jump into truck tracks, making the pedaling effort insanely easy. Turning onto a town road of packed snow and ice (this time of year, thoughts of plowing are long gone) the big tires sang a whirrling knobbie song and a tail wind made me forget the earlier struggles. By afternoon, with the bike tucked away, everything changed. The high sun quickly deleted most of the new snow cover and softened all surfaces, turning them into sloppy mush. Any thoughts of riding again soon would have to wait, making me perhaps more thankful for getting out the door early. I have no doubt April will fool us with a few more snowflakes and raw temps, and if so, the fatbike will roll out again to happily greet it. 
Home Stretch-Arndt Road

April-Arndt Road

Wedges Creek Trail

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Rural Township Roadtrip

Arndt Road/Ram, Sunrise
April Fools.  Rain, sleet snow and it's April 5th.  Sunrise forced the boots on and cameras charged. Molly wags impatiently for the truck ride.  The rules are broken-centered composition, horizon smack dab in the middle but it's all okay-its the township, in all it's un-glorious  frozen slush snow.  The sun is up and it's the frantic golden hour in black and white.  The coffee is warm, the truck on empt, aperture priority and the lab panting.  It's how it is.
Middle Road

Arndt & Sterling

Poertner Road

Columbia Ave./Sturtz

Columbia Ave./Winter

Coumbia Ave./Sturtz 2

Coumbia Ave./Wedges Creek

Sidney Ave.

Maple Road

Fremont Ave./Matsons

Fremont Ave.

South Mound Road/Urbans

South Mound Road

Sterling Ave./Wandering Deer
Middle Road