November Thaw

Those of us who live in the northern regions experienced what we “affectionately” called the “Winter That Never Ended” last year. By early December we were already well below zero for lows and never got above freezing in Potsdam. By the time early March rolled around we were all looking at our wood piles, wondering if we would make it till it thawed. By the time the weather broke we had only a couple of dry pieces of wood left and were mixing in some wood that was green just to get through. But we are Northerners and up here “all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.”

This year we approached winter with smiles on our faces (and bigger stockpiles of wood). But then it started earlier this year. It started in November.

I figured the comfortable riding had closed out well before I got home. Then the weekend of Thanksgiving we had a break in the weather. Forecast for Sunday a balmy 50F and dry. It was definitely time to get the mountain bike out and see what the trails held.

My first choice for location were some fun flowy trails one town over: “Lenny’s Loop” in Colton (built by my local mtb club). I picked those trails because they travel through more pines than hardwoods and would have fewer leaves on them. When I got to the parking lot it was clear that there were hunters in the woods. Those trails are on county land and it’s hunting season. Being a mtb’er and a hunter I appreciate that it’s not fun to have a quiet day in the woods disturbed. I also appreciate that I get to ride those trails most of the year. And so I pulled back out of the parking area and headed to my backup, the Clarkson Trails. My home single track.

The trails were in surprisingly good shape. We usually take a leaf blower to them in the fall after the leaves have come down so we can extend our season and so that when the snow finally melts we don’t have to contend with wet slippery leaves (just mud). They were really wet since the permafrost had started to melt on the top surface but the leaves had been blown off the first half of the track. The rest of the trail had leaves on it but people had been riding and so the trail was easy to follow.

I was a little bit under tired for the ride. I had my Maxxis Ikons, which as we all know do NOT shed mud. The ride was more a mental exercise than physical one. Keeping good lines, keeping the speed right, braking when the traction was good. My time was not close to a record. But the ride was fun.

It’s nice to be home.



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