Ride the Puddles

Ride Journal: Snow

Posted by bikezilla on January 9, 2011

Actually, snow covered ice this time.

Today I took Jen (my skanky azz mountain bike (MTB)) back out to Waterfall Glen, the 9.75 mile trail that runs around Argonne in Darien.

I was hoping that, as the stupid, evil, lying weatherman predicted, there’d be a few inches of snow on the trail today. But no. I’d guess the actual cover was between half an inch and one inch.

But that was perfect for testing out my new back tire.

Before the ride I managed to ruin my favorite hydration pack, a 1.5 liter Bell that I’ve had for at least 4 years and truly loved.

To help me keep warm on my 1 1/2 hour long, 9.75 mile ride, I fill my hydration pack with hot water. This time it was apparently just a tad too warm, because the bladder seam softened and opened like it had been parted with a ninja sword.

Thankfully I had a backup Camelback 1 liter pack, and it held up perfectly, though I ran out of water at mile 8.

With my handy dandy heated hydration pack snuggled beneath my top two layers, and this time with my helmet squished onto my head over my thermowhatever winter cap, I was off on my merry jaunt through the woods.

Because of my previous triumph I was feeling quite cocky, so laughed at and taunted the trail: “Ha ha haaaaa, Trail! Once again you shall taste defeat at the mighty hands of Bikezilla! Ha ha ha ha haaaaaaaaaaa!” said I.

Which brought only a silent and frightened trembling from the twice cowed trail, but managed to earn pitying stares and mocking snickers from fellow trail users.

The spottier stretches of ice had largely evaporated since my last ride, but much of the sheet ice was still intact, now covered with a shallow coating of snow.

In my search for a proper snow riding tire I wanted a tread pattern of deep, heavy, square lugs; something that would bite hard into snow cover and completely void of the compromising effects of a directional tread.

I actually found the perfect tread at, I think, Target for just $15 per tire. Unfortunately it was only available for 24″ rims and try as I may I could not stretch it to fit my 26″ wheels.

What I ended up with instead was a beautiful new Continental Gravity, with more angled, very slightly directional lugs, that are still just as deep as I’d wished to find.

But at $40 I could only afford one of them, so on the back wheel it goes until payday.

I avoided riding the shoulder, or even the clearest areas of trail, in order to be more sporting and give the trail a better chance to best me.

Plus I wanted to give my new back tire an honest test and see what it could handle. So I stayed within the flow of the sheet ice and focused on staying in the least traveled (and so least beaten down and cleared) areas of snow.

Only once did I involuntarily make snow angels again.

I was on a long heavy stretch of sheet ice, angling down hill and came into about a 75 degree curve a little faster than I should have. Then again, I’m not entirely sure I could have taken that curve upright even at a slower speed and with a studded tire (which is my next purchase, ridiculously expensive as it is at $80).

Stretch after stretch of snow covered sheet ice met defeat beneath my beautiful new tire. As each stretch was defeated, one by one, I could feel the trail hanging its miserable head still lower, beaten and ashamed once again.


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