Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Everyday weather

I hiked about a third of the way up Big Mountain before the drizzle turned to rain. Even at around 4,500 feet, not freezing rain, just rain. Before I got more wet than I already was, I retracted my trekking poles, packed them, strapped my pack on, strapped my feet in, and rode down. The snow was a few inches of heavy slush on top of a layer of ice; the snow in the trees was more like really-deep mud with a base of quicksand. But I was happy to get the workout and even happier to get a few turns -- I used to thrash Campgaw, I'm no snow snob.

Of course, as soon as I got back into town, it stopped raining and warmed to 42. I decided to go for it: I put my Spandex on, taped my mountain shoes (I broke the ratchet strap on one of my Mavic mountain shoes -- a year and a half later, I'm still using electrical tape), pumped my tires, and rode. It was my first ride of the year, a whole 12 miles, four in the break-down lane on Rt. 40 and eight back to town on sketchy, mostly-ice-covered Edgewood. I got muddy and soaked (after two seasons of racing 'cross, it was more muddy and soaked than I've ever gotten in a race -- I've never even raced in drizzle. But have you ever raced a 'cross race when it was 5 degrees? I have. It sucked.). A majority of the ride was spent with my knees bracing the top tube, trying to stay upright no matter what. And it mostly worked -- I didn't crash until the 12th mile ... riding into my driveway.

The ice rink at West 8th.

Hike the mountain, snowboard down, then bike: My version of the winter duathalon.

It's a mid-January thaw, the fourth straight day of low-40s and rain. Just like last winter, back east -- Pittsburgh, where I'm "from," and New Jersey, where I "grew up" -- is more like Montana than Montana is like Montana. All winter it's been either low -5/high 5 clear, blue skies or 34-36 and raining. While La Nina has dumped about five feet of snow at around 5,000 feet, like last year, it hasn't snowed more than four inches in a 24-hour period here in town at 3,000.

I know, I have no control of the weather, I just wish it was one or the other ... board or bike.

And, really, anything's better than this. "Despite all of my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage on a trainer watching 'Breaking Away' for the hundreth time."

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