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Ride Women Ride

18 Mar

Cycling has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world – Susan B. Anthony

My crack is so full of snow right now – Monika Melnychuk

 

 

Cycling was an important tool in the women’s movement.  With cycling came freedom, movement outside of small neighborhoods and pants.   Bikes it seemed, were a catalyst for change – both in fashion and politics. Although the world has changed since the days of Susan B. Anthony, you only need to look so far as the recent debate on birth control rights to be reminded that the journey may not be over.  Today was National Women’s Ride Day – a day to celebrate the bike’s place in feminist history.  What better way to honor the bike  then by going for an all ladies ride.

I am grateful for many things in my life – but a group of amazing female bike friends is pretty high on the list.  Doesn’t matter if we are battling SAD (Seasonal Affectiveness Disorder) with wine and spinning, taking off on the latest bike-cation, or just riding around Whitehorse; we always have  a good time.  I knew I’d have no trouble convincing the girls to celebrate National Women’s Ride Day, especially if I promised alcohol and potato chips.   After a couple weeks of questionable trail quality, I was excited to find out if the other side of town had some better options.  Once the champagne was safely stowed in a snowbank, we headed out onto on our ride.

 

The first section of the trail was awesome, heavily packed by eager Spring Break walkers it was smooth and hard, way faster than anything else I’ve ridden lately.  By the time we hit the bottom of Quickie it was big smiles all around.

 

Unfortunately, within the first 100 m of the Quickie up-track the trail conditions deteriorated significantly.  The entire trail was coated in greasy, fresh snow that slid wheels off the path and threw them into deep snow.  A normally quick climb was slow, with many unforeseen snowy interruptions.  But instead of disintegrating into frustration, the frequent falls had us doubled over with laughter.

 

At the top of the climb, my cheeks sore from over-smiling, I shook my head: “There is going to be some serious carnage” were the last words I uttered before rolling 10 meters down the trail, planting my front wheel in 1 foot of fresh powder and flipping straight onto my head.  The great thing about girlfriends is you know they’ll always be there for you; there to take photos and laugh as you struggle to lift a bike off of your back and stand back up.

 

A favor you are happy to return 100 m down the trail, when said girlfriends have to shimmy up trees to pull themselves out of 2 feet of fresh powder.

No matter how crappy the trail, or how crappy the day, riding with a bunch of girls makes life better.  Maybe I should thank bikes for helping make it possible for me to vote or for giving me access to education and jobs that my grandmothers didn’t have.  But mostly I thank bikes for giving me my awesome bike friends.  Now that’s something to celebrate, with stereotypically pink champagne.

 

Playing in the Margin

11 Mar

There is no doubt that this has been an amazing fat bike year.  There has been very little snow since Christmas, leaving lots of time for walkers, snowshoers, skidooers, and mushers to build fast, fun snow bike routes.  But the drought has ended, since we pedaled off the Dawson Overland trail on Monday, snow has steadily fallen and our packed trails are once again fresh and frustrating.

It’s difficult to accept marginal trails after a winter of amazing.  But, I haven’t been on my bike since our overnight trip and sometimes an okay ride is better than a good day on the couch.

Who? Me?

Starbuck and I decided to take the road up to the trails – it’s much easier to cope with soft paths when gravity is on your side.  The road section was surprisingly good – a strong tailwind had me believing I was in incredible shape.  It took until I turned around to face the blowing snow, before I realized just how much help I had gotten.  Halfway up the hill, I got a text from Niki and Monika – they were also heading up Grey Mountain and the new plan was to meet up for the ride down.

Pow

I stopped at a couple of trail heads along the way, checking the snow depth and trying to figure out what the best way down might be.  After passing a couple of snowed in entrances, I came upon the opening to Cantlie Lake trail.  Although not normally a favored snowbike route,  Cantlie Lake gets a lot of snowmobile traffic, so at least it wasn’t fresh powder.

Extra Tough?

Monika and Niki met me at the entrance and we headed down the slippery, soft slope.    The problem wasn’t snow depth, it was snow slip.  The hill was greasy, and if yelps were any indication, we spent most of the ride barely remaining vertical.  Even though we were on a downwards trajectory, the bad snow was already slowing us down.  Once we hit Long Flat trail, which is as its name suggests is flat and long, we were barely moving.

Snowy

So it wasn’t great, but it was still a couple hours outside, with friends, on a bike.    Plus, after watching some of the videos from the Iditarod Trail Invitational, I’ve got nothing to complain about.  My favorite part of Pete Basinger’s clip is when they can’t help but giggle.  Sometimes when it gets bad, you just gotta laugh (and then, if you’re me…cry).

Pecha Kucha Mountain

7 Mar

P1060374

This weekend, Yukon was lucky to have two new female fat bikers in town.  Jill Homer – hereinafter known as Dr. Jill – is a famous endurance athlete who’s biked the Great Divide and the Iditarod.  She’s also a friend who’s visited Whitehorse for a couple of local events, as well as just to hang out.  For the last couple weeks Jill’s been in Alaska, running in the Susitna 100, and watching her boyfriend Beat run the Iditarod Invitaitonal.  Jill Missal – hereinafter known as Hunter Missal – is GearGals, a female gear blogger who I’ve only met through the twitterverse.  In 140 characters or less, the two Alaskan Jills, Bike-wife and I have been plotting a fat bike weekend.

The Jills arrived on Friday night after a long car ride in from Anchorage.  Yukon and Alaska may be close on a map, but without an airline to connect them, they tend to involve long drives.  On Saturday, we spent the day exploring Yukon single track – double riding so that we could check out Quickie and Boogaloo in the same day.

Sunday was the main event – an overnight snowbike ride along the Dawson Overland trail.  The trail, formerly a winter mail route from Whitehorse to Dawson City, is a well traveled snowmobile route and part of the Yukon Quest.  Our trip would take us from Braeburn Lodge to Takhini River Road – 100 km split evenly between two days.

This trip was a multi-biketual adventure.  I was on Wednesday, my titanium Fatback.  Hunter Missal rode a titanium 9:zero:7, similar to my bike, but even lighter thanks to the absence of a front brake.  Bike-wife was on her Salsa Mukluk; and Dr. Jill rode a borrowed Surly Pugsley.  We were successfully representing all major fat bike brands.

4 Bikes - 4 Girls

The Mr. drove us out to Braeburn Lodge, gave us a quick summary of the trail and off we rode.  Day 1 was warm – within the first half hour I’d abandoned my hat and was riding bare headed.   The highlight for me, was a small snowmobile trail that Hunter Missal discovered when trying to find the facilities.   Halfway down the trail, the silence of the forest was interrupted by the sound of a rushing river – right underneath your feet.  Hunter Missal and I were mesmerized, the other two girls were not as keen on standing on top of the frozen river.

Overall, the trail was nice and firm, with enough room to ride side by side with plenty of opportunity to chat and visit.  Although we’d left Whitehorse in blue skies, most of our ride was spent in soft snow with hazy skies.

Blue bum big sun

The one break in the weather was accompanied by the most colorful sundog I’ve ever seen.  Unfortunately, my skills at capturing the moment on megabytes are lacking.

Sundog

After 40 km of riding, we finally met up with our Cabin Boy – the incredibly kind Sky Hunter who had kindly volunteered to bring our food out to the cabin.  While the use of a Cabin Boy may spoil the purity of a hut to hut – it turned out to be a brilliant decision.  Sky Hunter had come upon our planned Klondike Snowmobile Association cabin, only to discover it was occupied by a couple of bison hunters.  While we were out the trail, he found us a Trapper’s cabin that we could use for the night to stay warm and dry.  He was able to direct us to our new accommodations before nightfall – and even got the stove going for us.

Cabin

The cabin was probably the best part of our trip.  Despite the snowmobile for transportation, we only brought the essentials: wine, cheese, chocolate, beer, pasta, eggs, bacon, pancakes, syrup and Reese’s Peanut Butter cups.

Peering In

Cabin Life

After a long day of exercise, we started our cabin time huddled close to the woodstove, desperate to get every joule of heat energy.  With each passing hour our chairs moved back, widening the semi-circle as the stove got warmer and warmer.   By half way through the night, Dr. Jill was singing Ne-Yo’s “It’s Getting Hot in Here” as we changed into tank tops and rolled up our pants.  Finally, the beer was done, the wine-skins were empty and it was time to climb into our sleeping bags and rest up for the morning.

At 6:30 am, the sauna cabin was back to needing a wood fire; and I had the coldest sleeping bag.  By the time I gathered more wood, it was time to start on breakfast anyway.  We had convinced our Cabin Boy to stay the evening, instead of travelling back to town in the dark.  After water was boiled for coffee, bacon cooked in the fire, and pancakes slowly baked, we loaded the snowmobile with garbage and our sleeping bags and sent Sky Hunter on his way.

P1060407

After leaving a nice message for the cabin owner, we packed our own bikes up and started down the trail.  Despite a snowy evening, the route was still packed well, and we were able to make good time.  We even started our ride in blue skies with a big, bright sun.  Unfortunately, within the first 10 km, the temperature started to drop and stopping to eat was made more difficult by the chilly weather.

Morning

Blue sky

The trail is not incredibly exciting, or particularly challenging – but is consistent and dotted with interesting historical artifacts.  There were some fun, long descents; a long section of climbing and plenty of fast, flat sections.  It was also a great way to try out an overnight bike trip – leaving me more confident in joining the Mr. for some of his longer adventures.

Motoring

By the time we pulled up to the car at 3:30 pm, we’d ridden for almost 10 hours in total.  Seems like a long time on bikes, but thanks to good conversation, and wicked 80s ballads, the time flew by. It was fun to see the surprised expressions on the snowmobilers faces as they came across a group of women, riding bikes, in the middle of winter.   I’m hoping this becomes an annual adventure – perhaps next time we’ll trek up to Alaska.

 

Same trip, different blogs:

For more information on the historical elements of the trail, see Jennoit’s post: http://jennoit.blogspot.com/2012/03/741-1842-sunset-ya-know-if-this-was.html

For an awesome Robert Service inspired poem, see Dr. Jill’s post: http://arcticglass.blogspot.com/2012/03/there-are-strange-things-done.html

 

A Ride through 2 Lenses

19 Feb

The Fat Tire Ballerinas decided to celebrate warm weather and packed trails with a beautiful Sunday afternoon snow bike ride.  My bike-wife and I both brought cameras to capture the fun.  After our ride was over, we exchanged memory cards and came up with a fun blog game.  Your five favorite pictures, taken by either camera, posted with a brief explanation.

This game proved to be harder than I thought.  It was a little bit like picking Cabinet Ministers.  Aesthetic preference was not the only consideration.  Trying to pick 5 photos that showed off different riders, different parts of trail and different perspectives was really tough.  But in the end I made my choices and I’m keen to see how many of them are also in my bike-wife’s collection.

Here is my ride in 5 pics:

Sun and Smiles

There were four furry companions on today’s ride and no picture collection would be complete without at least one doggie-centric portrait.  I love this photo because it features the star of the afternoon (literally) a bright sun that feels like it’s pulling us towards summer, and a doggy smile so wide that it’s infectious.

Borrowed Bikes Big Grins

The nice thing about a community of female snow bikers, is that there’s always bikes to lend.  Paula is riding Monika’s puke Pugsley, while Monika rides dirt on the Island.  Kris is rocking out on Van Gogh, Kate’s starry night themed beauty.   I picked this photo because I love the light and the beautiful scenery.  It’s almost hard to believe that these trails weave between Whitehorse subdivisions.   They look like the kind of place you’d have to drive a car to – instead of starting from a backyard.

 

Blue Belle

This was a tough choice, because it’s clearly the same shot.  But, where I picked the previous one for the scene, I chose this one because of the person.  I love Jenn’s big grin, but even more I love her flawless wardrobe choices.  Notice her blue skirt matches perfectly with her hat and helmet,  not to mention the blue of her bicycle.  She looks great!

Aspen

I like this picture, but more importantly I love this section of Quickie.  It’s at the end of trail and it is fast and fun.  It was hard to get any good pictures through here just because of how quickly the girls flew by.

Lean

This was almost a selfish pick/pic, but I chose it because it shows me riding and that was the best thing about today.  The riding was awesome.  The corners were fast and I actually got good air off three of the rock drops.  Today was one of the wonderful days where I felt like I rode my bike, and my bike didn’t ride me.

Pictures 1 and 5 were taken by Jenn; and 2, 3 and 4 were taken by me.

You’ve seen my top 5, now it’s time to check out Jenn’s pic(k)s

 

Cold Weather Commute

21 Jan

Ice fog commute

The temperature never successfully broke -30 C (-22 F) this week.

On day 1, commuting to work in temperatures around -40 is an adventure.  I finally got to try out my new Christmas polar bear mittens, which exceeded expectation when it comes to warmth.  I got to take my Skookum parka out of the closet and see if it was as amazing as I remembered (it is).   And, I’m not going to lie, I got to be the crazy winter cyclist, that people shake their head at.  “You rode your bike in this?” they ask – and I take their awe with pride.  The cold weather couldn’t keep me down, couldn’t stop me from my daily routine, and couldn’t keep me off my bike.

But, by Friday, the routine has lost its novelty.  I’m tired of the pre-ride ritual of layering on all my clothes.  Every day I get to work, exhausted from battling the cold – soaking wet from all the energy it’s taken to fight the freezing lubricants, and rigid tires.  I’m annoyed at the people that say to me “You rode your bike in this?” with their disapproving tone, like my bike riding is somehow causing the cold snap.  Maybe if I got with the program and jumped in my car, we could climate change this problem away.

 

Riding to work at 40 below

 

Some of my annoyance is because of the cars that drive past me on my morning commute.  In these temperatures I try to stick with the paved pathways.  It’s too cold for a helmet – I need all the hats I can get on my head.  And at -40, cars spew thick exhaust that lingers in the air, too cold and dense to dissapate.  I have no desire to ride through the fog of petroleum products.   More importantly, the cold snap has left people cranky, and less inclined to follow general traffic rules.  Apparently at around -35, martial law is enacted on the streets of Whitehorse and you can do anything you want.  On Wednesday, I was crossing 2nd avenue when a car rushed passed me, honking its horn and shaking its fist.  It may have been too cold for them to roll down the window, but  the message was pretty clear.  I had obviously inconvenienced this driver.  I may have been crossing on a green light, and they may have completely blown a red light; but that’s really not the point.  What was I doing on their street in the first place?

 

View from the bike lane at 40 below

 

The car vs. bike debate seems to be renewed in the chill of January’s coldest week.  I sometimes wonder if the anger is due in part to the inconvenience of a car in this weather.  There’s parts to plug in, windows to scrape, gas-line antifreeze to inject – from atop my little bike I can hear the cars grumble down the street – metal scraping, and engine struggling.  Our esteemed Mayor Bev Buckway told a newspaper earlier this year that bicycle commuters “can be really scary for cars”.  Sometimes I imagine that through a windshield I look like a crazy flesh eating zombie that at any moment could jump through the passenger window and eat someone’s brain.   Putting my overactive imagination aside, I can see the concern.  If a car hits a bike on the road, there’s huge repercussions for a driver: police reports, insurance costs, car repairs, and probably hundreds of hours of paperwork.   All things most cyclists don’t have to do – because they are dead.  I wonder if cars know that in the 58 car/bike accidents that resulted in fatalities in 2005, the cyclists are up 58 to 0 when it comes to deaths.  I’d say they don’t need to be too scared.

 

40 below commute

 

But, it’s easy when the weather’s bad and you’ve almost been killed by a giant box of metal, to become bitter.  The truth is that 99% of cars are great.  They are courteous, they are kind.  Lots of them give me a little wave as the go by (and not with their middle finger).  I’m not stupid, I know that sometimes I delay a car by 5 or 10 seconds, because it takes me that much longer to get through the round-about.  But, most drivers seem to be okay with that.  In fact many vehicles try to cede right of way to me (which by the way is completely unnecessary and can be kind of dangerous), stopping to let me cross the street, or make a turn.  So instead of making this post about the crazy winter drivers, I’m writing it to thank the not so crazies.  The ones who scrape their windows, so they can actually see the human powered commuters on the sidewalks.  The ones that follow traffic laws, even when it’s cold.  The ones who don’t yell at me or threaten to kill me.  And most importantly, the ones that don’t maim me on my way to and from work.   For you, I am truly grateful.

 

Frozen Commute

What’s it like to ride a bike at -40?

15 Jan

Riding at 40 below

Riding at -40 requires a special wardrobe.  Anything designed to be aerodynamic or light is useless.  Instead you’ve got to find the things that through science or nature will keep you warm.  There’s a reason that the first people of the arctic wore furs – and it wasn’t for fashion.  Equipped with my Christmas polar bear mittens, and Northwest Territories’ beaver hat – I’m either a traitor or patriot.  If the ride ends in frostbite, and I have to take advantage of our health-care system, I’ll be the trifecta of Canadian awesomeness.

At -40 the world is both incredibly quiet, and strikingly loud.  Because most people are hiding inside, away from the harsh cold, the regular sounds of civilization are noticeably absent.  There are not a lot of cars on the street, and scarves have all but eliminated any chance of chatter.  But where regular sounds are silenced, others are amplified to the point of becoming unrecognizable.   Planes that normally escape the runway without detection, suddenly sound like chainsaws being started mere meters away; and cracking ice has you dodging imaginative bullets.

While your sense of hearing reaches superhero levels, your sight is slowly eradicated.  A scarf or facemask takes away your ability to look down.  A big hat or hood removes the peripheral.  Lashes slowly accumulate frost, weighing them down until they drape over your eyeballs.  What’s left is a pinhole world, covered in crystal fur.

There is no speed at -40.  Within meters of leaving the heated house, Jack Frost takes hold of your bike.  First it’s the tires, that become rigid and no longer roll with ease.  Then it’s the cranks that start to slow as lubricant transforms into maple syrup.  The pedals stop spinning – frozen in place and a once speedy machine now crunches over the snow like a half-ton Caterpillar.

The body slows just as quickly as the bike.  Air at -40 is empty – humidity and oxygen have flown to warmer climates, like most of your friends.   The only thing even remotely comparable,  is the first bike ride after landing in Aspen, CO – 8000 feet above sea level.  Every breath in feels like it’s not enough.  Further complicating things are they scarf or facemask – a necessity if you want to avoid frozen skin.  The already diluted air has to be sucked through a layer of fabric.   With only a small fraction of the oxygen necessary to power movement – each leg rotation takes the effort of a sprint.  The normal 20 minute ride to work is suddenly 40 minutes, and the flat river trail morphs into a hilly challenge.  Thank God no-one else is stupid enough to be riding, or walking up those pathetically small hills would be embarrassing.

So why wander out when the rest of the world is content inside?  Partly it’s the ADHD, but it’s also the adventure of entering a world that looks a little bit familiar, but is somehow completely different.  It’s also the hardest you’ll ever ride to cover such a short distance.

Riding at 40 below

How to Clone the Awesome

31 Dec

The step by step instructions for cloning the awesome:

 

1.  Find two friends.  These friends must be awesome.  They also must have different schedules for the day.  Ideally they will also live in two different parts of town.

Kate disappears into the woods

 

Niki on Lower Boogaloo

 

2.  Locate two awesome single track trails that have been packed by heavy holiday snow-shoers full of eggnog and cookies.

Singletrack start of Boogaloo Heights

 

Wooden stunts on Quickie

 

3.  Find a dog that has been suffering from run deprivation, thanks to his owners’ return to work world.

 

Excuse me Niki - you forgot to throw my stick

 

Leading the way down Foreplay

 

3.  Pack 2 entire sets of clothing.  Snow biking is like the Oscars – each party needs its own outfit.  Seriously, biking in sweat drenched clothes is asking for hypothermia.  You must always start a ride in a dry outfit.  This includes sports bras, long underwear and socks.

 

4.  Throw some food and drink into a bag.  It’s hard to eat in the cold, but you’ll need something to keep the bonk away.

 

5.  Ride…then repeat.

 

Ending ride two with the setting sun

 

 

The First Annual 5+ Hours of Light Fat Tire Festival

19 Dec

This past weekend we celebrated the elusive sun with the first ever 5+ Hours of Light Fat Tire Festival.    Every year, Whitehorse celebrates it’s good fortune with at 24 Hours of Light mountain bike race, where no lights are allowed (or needed).  It seemed almost cruel to ignore the ugly sister solstice – so a small group of snow bikers (Mario, Paul, Jenn, Heather, Jonah and I) decided to honor the shortest days with a bike race that went from sunrise (10:07 am) to sunset (3:47 pm).

 

It's 9:45 am - getting ready to race

 

I have to admit – when 9:45 am rolled around, I was a bit worried.   Whitehorse was fully into Christmas Party season, and around 11:30 pm on Saturday night, I was convinced that everyone in town was drunk.  This would not bode well for an event that started “early” by Yukon standards.  But, a small crew of us (Heather, Jenn and I) and our respective partners (Mario, Ben, and Mr.) were up and ready for whoever might show up.   At least if no-one came we had 20 L of coffee and 2 L of Bailey’s.

When the clock struck 10:07 – the sun officially risen – we set off, a crew of 8 – most smelling slightly of rum and sugar.

It's 10:30 - first rip down Boogaloo

 

Jenn and I decided to take the first lap, figuring that while we were out, more participants might arrive and need bikes to ride.  Thanks to the hard work of volunteers and the Biathlon club, we were treated to a great combination of single track and double track.  By the time we got back, some of the more festive folks had made it to the start line.

 

It's 11:15 - most of Whitehorse's fat bikes are now here.

 

We designed a 24 hours style race, with the hopes that folks who didn’t have fat bikes (yet), could try them out by teaming up with owners.  Icycle Sports also brought out demo bikes for folks to try out.   So despite a limiting factor of approximately 20 bikes, we were able to have around 30 participants.

 

It's 11:45 - I'm watching for riders to come in.

 

The most amazing part of this race was the great facilities courtesy of our local biathlon club.  We had envisioned a race outside with pallet fires and wall tents.  Then the biathlon club offered us:  partially groomed trails (groomed until our singletrack started), a warm-up hut, bike storage system and an amazing stereo system!  They even arrived early to set the course.

 

It's 12:30 - the sun is high in the sky

 

My second lap coincided with “high noon” – and standing at the bluff at Magnusson you really got to appreciate just how low “high” is this time of year.   But more importantly, Jenn captured the awesome reflective tape on my bike.  Two things to be thankful for – cool reflective tape and (starting Wednesday) longer days.

 

It's 1:30 - my old bike (Snowbitch) and new bike (Wednesday) are heading out

 

After Jenn and I completed our second lap – we came back to bigger crowd (and empty bike rack).   This meant lending out our bikes and taking another turn hanging out at the headquarters.   Our patience was well worth it, because a half hour later, Fat Tire Ballerinas Kate and Julie came pedaling by and we decided on a group ride.

 

It's 2:30 - the girls are ready to rumble.

 

Fat tires rolling, we headed down the familiar trail, which thanks to the warm winds and extensive use was become more and more challenging.  Not all of us made it through unscathed:

It's 2:50 and we have a ballerina down.

 

It's 3:05 and things are not looking good for Jonah.

 

We arrived back with 30 minutes to sunset, not quite enough time to fit in another lap.  After unsuccessfully trying to bribe participants with a naked lap (0.8 km would be counted as a full lap if you did in unclothed), we counted down to sunset.

 

It's 3:37 according to our high tech timing system.

 

Prizes were awarded to team (Pearsons and Girl), male (Jonah with 7 laps) and female (me – because I was one of the few female solo riders)

It's 3:50 - time to pass out the hardware.

 

Despite the mathematical challenges with this statement – I’m going to go ahead and say that a 5 + Hours race is almost as exhausting as a 24 Hours race.  By the time we finished packing up I was tired and happy the sun was gone and I could go home.

It's 4:00 - time to go.

All around 5+ Hours of Light was a great success.  Perhaps an annual event?

Ready to Race

16 Dec

This weekend, a group of dedicated Whitehorse snow bikers is putting on the first ever: 5+ Hours of Light Fat Tire Festival.    A 24 Hours style race that goes from sunrise (10:07 am) to sunset (3:47 pm).  It’s the Yukon’s first attempt at a Snow Bike race, but given the explosion of fat tire bicycles, it hopefully won’t be the last.

In preparation for the big week-end, the last pieces of the Wednesday puzzle were put together.  She is now officially complete!

 

I feel like a rockstar riding around my kawasaki green wheels.

 

If anyone wants details on the race, go to the CMBC website.  There will be extra bikes for folks who’ve never known the giddy joy of riding in the snow.

Snow Shuttle

3 Dec

The Whitehorse weather this weekend is unusually warm, hovering only a few degrees below zero.  With the sky blue, and the sun out, snow biking was the obvious choice for a Saturday activity.   Paula, Niki and I; with our respective canines Guinness, Jackson and Starbuck decided to explore Grey Mountain.   Often we ride up the back trails to the Magnusson parking lot, but the days are getting shorter, so we decided that a shuttle up the road would mean more time to explore the trails.  Since car shuttles up Grey Mountain are taboo, we went with an alternate transportation option:

Canine shuttles are not only more fun then sitting in a car, they also have many side benefits.  After a long dog shuttle, there is a significant reduction on evening whining, and there’s no need for any additional post-ride exercise.   Also, because your shuttle vehicle travels with you, you don’t ever have to worry about a pick up.    I thought that gas savings would be another benefit, but it turns out that while my gasoline is $1.29/liter; dog food is $6/liter – and my car doesn’t poop, so I guess that’s two strikes against the canines.   The only other problem is if you have a poor performer.

 

 

Guinness is a retired sled-dog.  He is, apparently, taking his retirement very seriously.  It’s not a good sign when the line is slack, and it’s even worse with the dog is beside instead of in front.  Poor Paula had to do far more pedaling then us.

 

The early season snow is still soft and not all the trails have been walked, ridden or snowmobiled.  This afternoon’s ride was an interesting combination of breaking trail, speeding down well packed single track, and finding alternative methods of movement.  We had planned to ride down a trail that turned out to be completely unpacked.  Instead of backtracking, we slid on our butts down a steep hill, bikes in hand.   Paula almost ran over Niki with her bike, but as you can see both Niki and Guinness thought it was hilarious.

 

 

By the time we’d finished our loop, the sun was setting (it wasn’t quite 4:00 pm), and the sky was lighting up like a citrus salad.

 

 

 

On the final turn towards home, the moon had taken its seat in the  sky.   The days may be short, but perhaps there’s something to be said about quality, not quantity.   Dark skies and sleepy dogs are the perfect setting for an evening in with wine and cheese.  Turns out winter’s not so bad…