It's known as the winter that wasn't, but was. Cold temps, lack of snow, but also no melting the whole season. For winter fat bike riders it was great. That said, there is a longing this time of year to get knobbie tires on dirt-real dirt on real trails.
Opening day at the trailhead is like giddy kids in toyland. Every rider and bike of every size and shape squeezes into any remaining parking slot. Such was the case at Levis Mound Trail this past weekend-Opening day in southern Clark County. Levis is blessed and cursed to have very light sandy soils, and just 2 weeks ago we were on packed snow-what a difference a week or two of warm weather makes.
Typically, the trail shuts down in March or April to allow spring thaw to allow a drying period. There are no hard opening and closing dates-Mother Nature dictates that. This year, with minimal snow cover, the singletrack was ridable much quicker than expected. With social media and web sites announcing trail conditions, it's possible to inform the riding public on a short timeline. They were ready.
The Levis Mound Facebook page had constant inquiries about as soon as the last snowflake disappeared. Patience...difficult for some-especially the non-fatbike crowd who haven't turned a pedal all winter. Our scouts and volunteer trail builders started in almost immediately checking the status of the quickly drying trail and digging dirt for re-routes. Not that there really was pressure to have maintenance and re-routes done by the opener, but when you have help-one wants to take advantage of it. Grub hoes were slinging in ernest.
Once the call was made to open her up-word spread like wildfire. Riders from all over the midwest posted on the websites-Levis was possibly the first trail open to riding for the 2015 season. A small hiccup of snow showed up a few days before, but melted and still allowed for good riding. Some north facing trails clung to snowcover a bit longer and riders on fatbikes held an advantage, giving the illusion of multi-season riding in one day. The recent trail work was welcomed and riders who made the trip to West Central Wisconsin, got their money's worth-long rides and frequent stops at scenic vistas-no shortage of them here.
As a trail builder here for 30 odd years, and head instigator of a sorts, it was a blast to be out riding by myself-stopping to chat with others and snapping as many photos as I could. A friendlier crowd of bikers you won't find. Luckily Levis has an extensive 25 mile network of singletrack, so even though there were a lot of riders-they tend to spread out and you're left feeling you have the place to yourself.
Post ride was time for a beverage or two and chatting with visitors-some who have been here before- others, like a pilot/rider from Appleton, set a small bush plane in a farm field down the road, changed into riding gear and had a wonderful day on the trail. Departing late in the day-he did a fly over and wing wag to the trailhead crew below.
Just like in baseball-opening day is a highly anticipated event and getting dirt under the tires signals the start of a new season. Weather is fickle, and within 24 hours, the trail was covered in freezing rain and sleet, but she'll bounce back quickly and mountain bike riders will return. “You always get a special kick on opening day, no matter how many you go through. You look forward to it like a birthday party when you're a kid. You think something wonderful is going to happen. - Joe DiMaggio.
I totally agree.