Rides We Like: (Tried) The Snow Day Ride
(2016) I’m a firm believer in listening to what people say at the beginnings of a group ride. One of the worst things I could overhear is someone saying he’s a mountain biker. Those guys from the other side of the industry have their own language and perception. It’s not bad. It’s not good. It’s strictly terrifying from a road standpoint.
I was once on a group ride when I heard three comments by a mountain biker- riding his road bike for the day- that has forever altered my trust in how mountain bikers perceive the road ride. The quotes were something along the lines of, “I’m just riding easy today.” “There’s a false flat.” “I’m not going to lie, there’s a bit of a climb ahead.” Seems apropos to anyone reading, right? Well…
I remember riding down the road with said mountain biker and realizing that this ‘easy’ pace was creeping up. Not wanting to be a by-the-rules sort of person I kept my mouth shut except to take in larger volume- breaths to match the new pace. Perhaps this guy’s average was a bit different. And forget about conversing at this time. All story telling ceased once the pace altered. I suddenly became the quiet one.
The ride continued and I started noticing the group was downsizing. This is when I heard about the false flat portion. Perhaps my definition of a false flat varies from mountain bikers insomuch as a false flat looks flat but is slightly uphill. I actually think if I stopped strangers on a sidewalk, similar definitions would abound. Yet this route had a climb in front of us, I wasn’t buying the whole ‘falsified gradient’ evaluation.
Just when I was ready to blow up on the (recovery) ride it was announced there was a slight climb ahead. By the way, this rider had assumed the leadership role of the ride at this point. People had called it quits and dropped off. They were the lucky ones. We turned the corner onto a road I had never ascended and locked eyes with a demon of a climb. In my mind I thought ‘little bit of a climb’ would qualify as slightly steeper than a false flat.
After making deals that I would never use curse words again if a SAG wagon would pick me up, I crested the hill with what felt like an inch remaining in my life. Naturally the downhill portion was an unpaved experience that saw the mountain biker attack (because who doesn’t attack on an easy day?) and I tried to survive. I will say that I remember this ride because of this experience and doesn’t that qualify it for a great ride?
In the spirit of mountain biking, I rolled out the dusty rig and put a few pumps of pressure into the giant tires to ride in deep snow outside. With the blizzard in full swing I cyclocross- jumped over the snow bank that had accumulated against the closed garage door. At the encouragement of my neighbor who happened to be by his window, I decided I would wheel around the neighborhood by 'riding easy.' So what if the roads were plowed four hours ago and four inches had fallen?
I lowered my Oakley ski goggles, snapped my chinstrap, stood on the platform pedals, and proceeded to dismount immediately. "Perhaps I should get into the vehicle tire groove," I thought. I adjusted and pushed off again. This time a tank slapper and another foot down. The neighborhood kids with their sleds watched me, probably confused as to what I was doing. Sadly enough, I couldn’t even get the bike to roll in the snowmobile track that seemed so perfect to target. I thought it would’ve felt like corduroy on a ski slope.
I made it a total of one hundred yards and dismounted about twenty times. Luckily there were no mountain bikers coming through to give riding tips. I came back and shoveled the sidewalk. I got dressed for a reason; it might as well be a success.
Even if it was only a one hundred yard mountain bike ride in fast accumulating snow, it still was a decent day to get out and try to ride a bike. It still beats being on the trainer. And luckily there aren’t any climbs, er, false flats in the neighborhood.