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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A fools bike

Sometimes I loath snow biking.

I suppose that’s why cross training keeps me sane but the recent snows, freeze, etc.. enticed me to believe I would be jazzed about snow biking. Yesterday I was not. 

The roads are icy, the traffic scary, the larry tires are running on low PSI and by the time I was able to get to my fun climbing hill where I can bike on a steep ‘technical’ snowy road, it was only a few minutes behind my running time.  The boring part of the ride is going from my house to the base of Anvil, about 4 miles.  Normally, a nice warmup (riding or running) as it’s a gradual uphill all the way on the road.  Only now the snow on the shoulder adds resistance, the low tire pressure adds resistance and to top it off the afternoon north wind kicks up an annoying headwind.  That adds resistance.  All said and done my speed is a frustrating 6-13 mph depending when the next gust of wind decides to bear down.  If I add a bigger ring and stand up to ride it’s more comfortable but the headwind plus riding speed negates any benefit from the added power.  I wish I had a power meter, maybe looking at watts instead of speed and heart rate will make me feel better but it certainly won’t get me there faster. 

Once on the dexter bypass road the Anvil mnt turn off is a steep dirt (now snow) road about a mile to the top.  The road at the top of Anvil continues where you can ride a circle around the mountain and pop out back on the dexter bypass road a couple of miles further up.  I’ve been itching to ride the loop on snow but by the time I grind & grunt to the top of Anvil an hour has past, same as my running time.
A few hundred yards before the WWII era radar towers I see fresh muskox tracks in the snow and cautiously search for the herd or the culprit.  Sure enough he (or she) is hanging 20 yards ahead camouflaged in the thick willows next to the road.  I’ve come to dislike these critters, they have thwarted many workouts over the years in their roaming packs. These animals have a tendency to appear docile but they will charge at the drop of a hat (or at least for me) and where there’s one there’s a herd somewhere hiding around. They’ve decided to mill closer to town lately and have even gored a number of dogs this year.  In any case, they don’t seem to move for barking dogs, trucks or humans on bikes.  I went off trail pushing the bike through the willows to hike a bike around the beast. While I eventually made it, I then had to bail and head home.  Time is a factor.
From the top of Anvil without a snowy road I can zoom down and join the main road, cruising, pedaling hard (it’s generally all downhill back to town) maintain my heart rate and I’m at the house in 15 minutes.  Only the icy snow road is so treacherous I have to run down the mountain with the bike. Once on the road I have to brake constantly downhill, (no shoulder) it’s slick and not pedaling, my heart rate drops to 75.  At my house it a dissillusioned 1 hour 30 minutes total for 11 miles; my running time is faster for the same route. 
None of this is new nor unexpected but yesterday, for whatever reason, it was just plain ole frustrating.   

2 comments:

Jill Homer said...

For the longest time I believed that snow biking was equally slow and difficult as snow running. But then I actually tried the Susitna 100 on foot and yeah, running is a lot harder.

Phil said...

Definitely. I was surprised how fast I could get myself in the blow up zone on my new 'obsessive' HR monitor with running. In biking I have to constantly increase my pace to get my HR up. Can't imagine what pulling a sled will do to that HR.