Been getting in some good rides lately of the bike and ski variety. Throw in a winter party somewhere in the middle and it's been a sweet couple weeks.
Two Wednesdays ago a few of us went to Liberty when a serious cold spell hit the area. With temps in the 20's the local resorts were pumping out as much snow as they could in preparation for MLK's birthday and the inauguration. The "snow from a can" as Camps called it was thick and dry and made for some fun runs. Not the best stuff in the world, but, it beats icy hills any day of the week. Joe, Jay, Larry, my brother Keith and I played on the backside most of the night. Jay gets special recognition for bringing a flask of GM. Unfortunately that small flask didn't last long when 5 guys are hitting it. After a few more runs we remedied that with a visit to the tavern. A couple Hop Backs later we finished the night with a few more runs and one more plb before heading home.
Saturday night Mr. & Mrs. Outlaw hosted a fine Winter Festivus. As expected, the beer selection was top notch, the food was yummy and the company was outstanding. DKEG and I were officially welcomed into the Outlaws, although the initiation ritual need to be postponed. Something about Stoner losing the gerbil..... Dodging that bullet we settled in with some beer sampling and conversation. As the night progressed, the artistic side of the inebriated guests came out and Joe's refrigerator was to be the canvass. Barb and I had to head out to relieve the babysitter just as things were getting interesting on the chalkboard. I really need to find the email with those pics.
The next morning DKEG, Sweetcheeks and I got in a short ride at the Shed. We did an out and back on Busted Knuckles, Rusted Bug and Lawnmower. Snow on top of ice made for some interesting climbs and sketchy descents. Busted Knuckles was riding very nice and it was good to get some tires on the young trail. Sadly, those 7 miles didn't make a dent in the calories we consumed at Il Forno. Best damn pizza around tho!
Wednesday night was another Gambrill ride and I was sporting my newly converted triple LED. Again the trails were covered with ice and snow and I learned that Kenda Karma's, while great race and rock tires, don't do so well in the snow. A few slides while driving into a turn meant I needed to ride a tad conservative unless I wanted another trip to the ER. The LED, on the other hand, performed flawlessly and threw out a spectacular beam. All I need to do now is build up a 4 cell battery to run on the helmet and that light will be perfect. The 6 cell pack I ran in my hydration pack is great and provides for long run times, however, I have now become spoiled and love the freedom of having everything helmet mounted. With temps in the teens we could only muster up 6 souls for the nights ride. The reduced number worked in our favor and we kept a steady pace with a singular mechanical. RiderX had a small issue with his light mount, it broke, but, we were close to the finish and it was repaired quickly. This ride was followed by the second best pizza in Frederick and beers at the brewpub. Gonzo Imperial Porter from Flying Dog on tap, that was a nice surprise.
This past Sunday we did another snow/ice ride in the Shed and we actually got in some decent miles. Did the southern/northern loops option and the trails were fast...and frozen. I think someone said it was 14 degrees when we started, sure did feel that way. However, it was a beautiful sunny day and the low temps didn't seem to bother anyone. Carlo's bike was another story and his rear shock didn't seem to care for the cold weather much. Try as we might, it just wouldn't hold air and he had to cut his ride short at the end of Dave's trail. While he took the road back to his car, the rest of us headed towards lawnmower. With the exception of a couple turns, the trail was in good shape and rode fast. From there we headed down an icy Rusted Bug and over to a very nice Busted Knuckles. That twisty trail only had a dusting of snow at this point and provided many smiles from the group. After it re-joined the Blue we headed down, over to little cannan and then towards Death March. Sweetcheeks was riding well and hot in pursuit on the climb. DKEG was looking particularly good and was only moments behind us with Liz and Greg close behind. We decided to stay on Blue and loop back towards Sand Flats. This should give us about 15 miles and a nice ride on a cold winter day. A couple icy spots on "Not Blue" made the climb impossible and a quick dismount was necessary. From the top we took the connector to Blue down into Crystal Clear pond. True to it's name the pond was clear as a bell with a thin layer of ice on top. Blue rode fast all the way back to Buck Flats and that rode well back to the cars. We did get our 15 in for the day and then a quick detour to 7th street for a little fridge re-stock. Road-runners were in order.
Last night a little more ski action as a small storm moved into the area. We pushed the Wednesday plan up a night do to the "wintery mix" forecasted for our regular night. I rolled out early to beat the traffic and get in some extra turns. Apparently everyone else had the same idea. With schools out and snow falling many people hit the slopes to enjoy snow not "from a can". After a slight altercation with some young punk, I head straight to the back side to enjoy Mother Natures bounty. Conditions were the best I've experienced in a long time and I was finally "feeling the back foot", hence the title for my post. Took a long time to get to this point, but there it is. I was feeling it last night and it felt good! Conditions aside, that was the best night I've ever had on the teles and I was stoked. I was actually driving the skis instead of being a passenger. Now, I wasn't driving them hard and I certainly wasn't popping out rapid jump turns down the bumps, but, I was able to trust them. I could ski the edge of the trail and not fear that I would blow a turn and end up in the trees. It's a great feeling when you turn that corner.
After a couple runs I see Camps and he's with a sizable group of locals, most of them freeheeling. Introductions done the group hits a couple runs and we had our own mini "telefest". Just as they are about to call it a night I hear some shouts from the lift and see Julie, Joe and Becky. Larry and I head up to meet them at the summit. Our group of 5 will spend the rest of the night together. Around 7:30 the people start to thin out just as the snow kicks up a notch. Sweet silent snow has replaced the sound of ice normally associated with these hills. It's a great sound....or lack there of. The night plays out beautifully as conditions improved. The legs are not feeling the burn I normally feel after repeated lunges down a hill. I guess that's another corner I've turned. Around 9 we decide a little refreshment is in order, a round (or two) later the drive home will be on icy roads as the snow has given way to freezing rain. Today things are a mess and most everything is covered by a blanket of ice. I'm glad we moved things up a day.