Sunday, December 23, 2007

Race Update: Trail Report (2 Speed Snow Bike)

I was starting to get concerned after a couple hours of rain. We lost nearly a foot of our snow base early in the storm. However, as the temperature turned colder the snow begin to fall, and did it ever. A fresh 9" of powder fell then drifted due to 25 mph sustained winds all of this with temperatures from six to 14 degrees F made for one hell of a ride.
I headed out for a couple of hours of winter riding (turned into 4 1/2)... 35+ mph head winds on the way to Dyersville caused me to run in my lowest gear the entire time at a breakneck speed of 3-5 mph. While I was warm (a little to warm) even with the wind-chill readings to below -10F, the wind was starting to make the ride more of a challenge than originally planned. However, on the way back I was able to run all the gravel and pavement in the 44/11 somewhere at 20 mph (fells like 50 mph when you're running a 4" tire at 5 psi). There is no such thing as bad weather - only bad clothing... today I actually had to shed a layer about an hour in to keep from overheating. The cold though was real, and a short uphill took my concentration for just a little too long causing me to forget about my camel back. By the time I crested the hill (into a 45 mph headwind) I realized that my camel back hose had frozen solid (even with the neoprene over cover & rubber mouthpiece cover). I was able to continue to drink by stopping, taking off the backpack and opening the fill reservoir. They say you have to do something 20 times before it becomes habit (well so far I’ve remembered to blow air back into my camel back a total of 3 times), looks like I may need some work on this one.

Ok, here's the trail report: If the race were today (I’d bet half of you wouldn’t show up...) the classical skiers would have experienced nirvana with 35+ mph tail winds and near prefect snow on heritage trail. The skate skiers and foot racers would have had a little more work cut out for them, as the snow was still oatmeal soft.

The bikes, well with the headwinds and deep powder even the normally euphoric 10% downhill on the Humpkie Level B road was only slightly ridable (had to push about 30% - yes. I had to push my bike down 10% grade! By the way, not a soul had attempted this road yet - virgin show. I was able to chug along on about 15 miles of heritage trail somewhere slightly faster than a brisk walk. The gravel roads and secondary paved roads couldn’t be distinguished from each other as they were all glassed with ice or knee deep in drifts... making the ride either fun (downhill with a tailwind) or a death march (uphill with a headwind). The worst of the ride was on a famous local route called "Potter Hill" a 2 mile 6%+ climb completely exposed to the 35+ mph winds. I had to push though some drifted uphill sections but was able to ride most of it... when about halfway up I passed my first 4-wheel drive stuck on the road (not in the ditch - on the road). I would see three more of them before the ride was over!

The picture was where I left Heritage trail and turned up Potter Hill. The winds on Heritage Trail where mild as the trial is sheltered for most of its 23+ mile length. Only a half mile up Potter Hill it was nearly whiteout conditions.


Paul said...

Ouch! I don't think my 2.1's would have done too well!

I am still looking forward to it!

Thanks for the update.

Lance Andre said...

I’m not sure about any tire... However, I was thinking a very small 1.8-studded tire might have worked better. A good hard base layer was rain soaked and frozen below the 6-9" of powder; a small tire might have sliced through the powder.