Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Snow mountain biking

I had a bit of an interesting afternoon today. According to the trail conditions, the bike trail at Wirth, which I've seen criss-crossing the ski trails all winter, would close to snow riding this evening. So I decided that something had to be done about that, now that Birkie was over and an encounter with a tree wouldn't preempt my ski season. (Moca still has conditions as being good, though.)

It was almost not to be, however. I biked from work to the ski room. There was no van key. The person earlier had not returned it. After several calls and no answer, I reluctantly made my way across campus towards home. But one last call yielded a van key, so five minutes later my bike was in the back of the van and we (me and Hans, he was skiing) were on our way.

And traffic was horrendous. We should have taken the river but with waning daylight I was willing to risk it. Bad move. We sat on 94 through Minneapolis (four lanes wide, but with horrid merges on the two outer lanes, it's really a two lane highway, so no wonder it backs up) and the sun was sinking fast as we got through the tunnel and on to the Olson. I made the first light but stopped for the second. As we sat at the now-red light, the van shook and a Caddy, having clipped the back of the van, came by, scraping his mirror down the side of the van, and then sped through the red light. I was almost flabbergasted, but saw the guy stuck at the light ahead of us (a longer light) and, when our light changed, used all eight cylinders of the van's engine to rev ahead of other traffic and cut in behind him.

We got the plate, and I leaned on the horn. Any normal person would stop and exchange information, but apparently this guy wanted a hit-and-run. I was on the phone with the Minneapolis police, who said that I could follow him, but that it wasn't advised. I agreed to meet the cops at the Chalet (better than the side of the Olson) to give them a report.

Now, of course, my hopes of riding were being dashed as the sky darkened. But the cops came rather quickly, I told them what happened, and they took a report. Hopefully they catch this guy and throw the book at him. I was more pissed off about the lack of skiing—well, biking—than the superficial damage to the van. But when we were done there was still some light, and I had a head lamp, so, snow mountain biking it was.

Snow mountain biking is a lot of fun. The trail was in good shape—packed, somewhat transformed snow—except for a few sections of ice or frozen dirt. That's not to say I had the right equipment or training to ride it. My tires spun out a lot, I did quite a bit of hike-a-bike, and never got going more than about 8 mph. Oh, and I fell in to the snow a couple times, put my foot in to a foot of snow several times, and grabbed my fair share of trees. It was dark by the end, but at such low speeds my headlamp did a fine job of illuminating the snow. Since it was still around 30, it wasn't too brisk, and it was a blast.

Oh, and the ski trails looked good, too. Aha! Trail report.

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