Of mud & snow

Last weekend I was all amped up to finally get out on the fat bike, and then mother nature and WYDOT had different plans, and all the roads leading to Happy Jack were closed.  Crushed, I quickly took to washing my cyclocross bike to make CycloX Louisville as a last minute idea to save my day and to prevent me from moping on the couch.

The overnight snow in Louisville had thawed and created epic mud conditions by my 2:45pm race time.  I gotta admit, I’m not the biggest fan of racing my cat 3 category, but I toed the line in a second row call up, and decided my goal would be to ride the hard, “Certain Death” line (the other option is called “Momma’s Boy” haha) each lap and just survive.

Slick as snot mud (Photo by Terri Smith)

Slick as snot mud (Photo by Terri Smith)

It was… well, a very very very hard race!  The mud was slippery as hell, and I can’t even recall how many times I ended up on the ground, usually when I was least expecting it. I did have one mechanical mishap when my front brake cable quick release came undone, so I had to stop and re-attach it, which caused me quite a few spots.  Nearing the end of the 3-lap race my rear wheel was stopped up with mud and grass so I had to fiddle with it a bit as well.  Overall the race involved way too much running/walking/hobbling/slipping up hills, and as a person whose strength is staying on the bike, it wasn’t that enjoyable.  Honestly, I was happy when the race was done… I finished 17th out of 20.  Compared to last year under dry conditions where I finished absolutely DFL, I was happy I at least held on for something.  And yep, rode Certain Death all three laps!

I'm becoming rather adept at drivetrain-side dismounts and flying remounts (Photo by Brent Murphy)

I’m becoming rather adept at drivetrain-side dismounts and flying remounts (Photo by Brent Murphy)

So much ridiculousness by the final lap that I was laughing about the horror of it all (Photo by Brent Murphy)

So much ridiculousness by the final lap that I was laughing about the horror of it all (Photo by Brent Murphy)

Coming down Certain Death (Photo by Shawn Curry)

Coming down Certain Death (Photo by Shawn Curry)

 

I finally had my go at fat biking today at Happy Jack thanks to a break before the next winter storm.  Oh man, it felt so good to get out there on the snowy single track!  A change I made this year is the decision to run clipless pedals on my fat bike.  Last year I really struggled with the steep learning curve of platform pedals, especially on climbs.  Luckily, that is now all remedied, and I learned clipless wasn’t the hassle I thought it would be, even with snow packed cleats!  It started out sunny and about 28 degrees, and after two hours of riding it was 14 degrees and the mountains were socked in with fog.  Frost was starting to collect on all surfaces, making things very pretty.  I pedaled about 11.8 miles in that two hours, reminding myself that fat biking is a lot slower going, albeit a blast!  I did two descents of Haunted Forest, working on my descending technique that Georgia has been helping me with.  I didn’t know quite how to dress, but ended up completely warm thanks to some new gear pieces:

  • Pearl Izumi Pro SoftShell Gloves – hands were super toasty the entire time, and never got soggy or sweaty unlike my other gloves.  I decided to leave my pogies at home, and these gloves did great keeping my fingers and hands perfectly warm and dry!
  • Specialized Therminal tights and winter bibs – these were two items I just picked up on clearance from Specialized.  I wore the tights over the 3/4 winter bibs, and was nervous about only have the tights over my calfs where the bibs ended and socks didn’t quite reach.  To my surprised my legs were HOT this entire ride!  I did have a few crashes in the snow, and moisture never leaked through, keeping me dry.  Considering I got both of these items for half off, I think they were well worth the money (and versatile for many types of riding).

I also used my Sidi Ghibli winter SPD shoes and Specialized winter wool socks, and my feet stayed toasty even when the temperatures bottomed out.  I had worn these shoes for CycloX Louisville and loved how they kept my feet dry even after being hosed off, so another versatile piece to my winter season biking gear collect.

so happy to be back on the fat bike!

Sunny skies on Headquarters

Sunny skies on Headquarters

image

Couple hours later and the fog moved in as I climbed up Pole Creek

Frost forming on the pine trees

Frost forming on the pine trees

My hair ended up sticking straight out the side and frozen solid by the time I got back to the car

My hair ended up sticking straight out the side and frozen solid by the time I got back to the car

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