Sunday, December 6, 2009

Bobcat Ridge Weekend Double

Bobcat Ridge Weekend
~12 miles running
~35 miles road bike
~10 miles skiing

Saturday Bike 'n Run
After last Friday's flirtation with temperatures in the 70s, the arctic weather returned, and shirtlessness gave way to layers. When I could catch a break from work, I enjoyed morning and lunchtime runs.

The biggest dilemma for me in the winter is deciding to run, ride, or hop in the car and go for a ski. One advantage of running is that I can sleep in, since most of the good skiing requires an hour-and-a-half drive. After a nice family dinner on Friday night at Bent Fork, in celebration of Christina's birthday, it was nice to sleep in until 8 or so, and then decide what to do.

The weather Saturday, actually, was noticeably warmer than the previous days: mid 30's with full sun by 11AM. I hadn't been on the red bike in a few months, it seemed, so I decided to head up to Bobcat Ridge, a good standby: easy access, more climbing, scenery, and solitude than in-town natural areas. I wasn't sure about the road shoulder conditions, and I was ready to bail or cut things short if it got icy, but it turned out to be quite pleasant. My ascent up the first climb to Horsetooth was nothing to be proud of, so I can tell that I've certainly lost something on the bike. I saw two friendly runners running the shoulder on my way up to Masonville, but zero other cyclists to offend with my non-aerodynamic foolishness and uncoordinated outfit of tattered hiking pants, puffy jacket, and backpack.

The only sketchy ice I encountered, in fact, was the half mile turnoff into Bobcat Ridge itself. Soon I reached the parking lot, did a clothing swap, and headed up Ginny Trail. The lower part of the trail was dry, but quickly gave way to dry, champagne snow in shadowed aspects. I hadn't tested my Yaktrax yet, so I thought I'd give it a go. Even though there were only a few inches of snow, they were a perfect choice, as I really got traction on some slippery technical areas. Huzzah for Yaktrax!

I admired the new (to me) mt. bike features going up, and the single, consistent mt. bike track in the snow. Make no mistake, this is a gnarly trail that I wouldn't contemplate on my own bike.

But I was on my feet today, and going up, up, I crested the ridge, I took a snack break to enjoy one of my favorite local views. Shortly after, I encountered the first two humans I saw on the trail, two hunters taking a break within the Roosevelt NF area adjacent to the natural area. We exchanged friendly greetings, and I guess I was glad I was wearing a blaze orange cap, but I think it was a fine day for all of us to be out there. After passing them, the backside of the ridge, then, was marvelously untracked. With just the right amount of dry snow, traction, and rolling trail, it was a blast. I took the wide loop (DR Trail) off of Mahoney and headed down, when I big mulie crashed through the brush and started bouncing down the trail. "Parkour!"

I looped back, passed two more humanfolk, and returned to my bike; once again, thankfully, unmolested. And, the coffee in my thermos was still hot!

I slowly rode back home, still ahead of the sunset, but started getting cold and a bit stiff from the lack of riding and general weather.

Another front was coming through...

We went to Old Town to celebrate friend Peter's birthday, and enjoyed Stonehouse brews and fish 'n chips, which I need to give credit for as the best in town. On the way, Jessica spotted a Red Hot Chili Peppers tribute band playing at Hodi's. Only $3 (good!) but wouldn't start until 11:30 or so. After going to Washington's for a bit, we did circle back to Hodi's. The opener was just finishing...which was a Muse cover band. D'oh! Well, we caught the end of "Nights of Cydonia" at least.

"Psycho Sexy" was fun for the mood we were in, it seemed. Surprisingly, they played mostly older stuff, which was awesome. Now, early Sunday AM, the snow was falling steadily in Old Town:

Sunday Ski
After the previous late night, I slept in even more, and awoke to a solid 4 or 5 inches of fresh powder -- and still falling! But, the temperatures were barely in the double digits. Driving to a good ski spot was unattractive, since the unplowed roads and late start wouldn't leave much time.

So, I decided to head back to Bobcat Ridge. I decided the previous day that much of the Valley Trail and DR would be pretty decent with some solid snow.
Long story short, it was still a fun ski, but not enough snow for the rocks. Or, I should say, the trail needs one layer of heavy, wet snow compressed on top of the rocks to make it more manageable. I banged up my skis a lot, and only got some fun momentum downhill a few times. Still, it was nice to be out on the skis, and also fun to drive the Outback with the snow tires back on. I saw exactly two other people on the trail in over three hours today (grand total: 6 for the weekend), and 4 deer, in addition to three more deer on the side of the road near HTMP. I can't say enough for the solitude and quality trails of Bobcat Ridge!

Now, I just have to fight off this cold/fever that everyone seemed to have already...