Saturday, February 28, 2009

Hubbard Brook

Wow did it feel great to be biking outdoors again. And look at this place! It was beautiful out today, couldn't have asked for a better day. I was aware that this place existed because the Center for the Environment at PSU has been doing a lot of work in the area and its in publications on campus all the time. Hubbard Brook is a conservation area of sorts where they run watershed studies and the what not.

There is a big science center at the end of Mirror Lake Rd in Thornton and starting there is Hubbard Brook Rd. which is a dirt road that the scientists use for accessing various parts of the brook and the surrounding area. The studies don't stop in the winter so it turns into a perfect snow machine packed down trail that is great for winter riding. It had never even occurred to me to try riding here until Bill swung us by the place on the way home from Doublehead last weekend. He has skin'd up the road and skied down in the past.

You'll notice that I said Bill has skied here in the past. i.e. There is some vert to be had. Unfortunately for me my ice bike is geared 32:16 which is a bit on the heavy side for winter riding especially if you are going to be doing some sustained climbing. I figured I'd give it a shot anyway...and I paid for it a bit. Right from the get go things tilted up.


The grade wasn't too bad but it was more than I could handle for prolonged periods with my tough guy gearing. I was red lining about 1K in of climbing and had to stop and rest a few times to let the heart settle and the legs recover. So in essence it was like interval training, kinda. Not sure how far up I made it in total. I rode up/out for about 45mins and then decided that was about as much as I could take. The high torque / low cadence was starting to do a number on my knees.

you can see the hurt

After turning around the ride back down was AWESOME. and cold. Luckily I was smart and packed extra wind proof layers in my new Camelbak M.U.L.E. The descent was fast, probably took me 3-4 mins to get back down to the bottom. 45 mins up, 4 down...sweet. Snow was in perfect shape to rip but still be in control. Probably didnt even really need the studs, but its nice to have them there for peace of mind.

at rest after a hard days work

Speaking of my new M.U.L.E, it's very nice (read like Borat). Picked it up on Chainlove recently and I'm glad I pulled the trigger on it. Big resevoir, lots of different sized storage for various types of gear, all while managing to be not that bulky. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.

I had originally planned on spending more time out on the trail so when I got home I decided I would re-gear the ice bike so I can come back here again and get farther up without my knees exploding. This simple re-gear project exploded into a giant manarea session with no less than 3 bikes being worked on. I was a man possessed. How possessed you might ask?

This possessed.

Things I got done:
  • Ice bike is now geared 32-21 running a Surly Singleator held with zipties (chopper lives again!)
  • The goofed 9 speed cassette that I bought to put on Shaun's 8 speed bike was installed on to my commuter
  • Shaun's bike is cabled, has the right cassette, and is good to go (minus a seatpost).

This came in the mail! I haven't been this excited for a new piece of gear in a long time. I can't wait to figure out all the little in's and out's and get it dialed. My 3 blog readers are going to have access to incredible levels of detail of every single bike ride I go on from here on out. You're welcome.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Doublehead Ski Trail

Finally got into the backcountry this season!

Bill and I hit the road early and went up to Jackson, NH to ride the Doublehead Ski Trail. I had actually never even heard of it until Bill had suggested it the day before. Did a bit of research and it looked fun. Avy danger was high on Washington after this latest storm of heavy snow on top of a thaw/freeze cycle but Doublehead isnt really steep enough to slide so things looked ok.

Our Destination

This is my first time in a long time earning turns in a new locale. It was interesting the night before getting all my gear together. I have a good enough set up to get by, but it would be nice to have more lighter specific touring stuff. Last thing I need is MORE gear to buy though. My wallet can only take so many outdoor activities.

My 'setup'

First time using my Marmot pack for this purpose. It worked really well and I am very pleased with it. Its a great size for the trip we did. I sort of goofed my layering for the day and had a hard time managing my "thermodynamics" on the hike up. I was overheating a bit and at the same time my hands were frozen. Bad combo. The hike was a bit more demanding than I had been anticipating.

We decided to head up the Old Path instead of hiking up the Ski Trail itself. These trails were cut by the CCC back in the 30's, but I think the Old Path may have been cut by a offshoot of that group called ASS or Anti Switchback Society. This trail went straight up the face, pretty steep in spots. Getting purchase with the snow shoes was tricky with the fresh snow and the grades we were trying to get up. But it made things interesting I guess.

As always the camera robs the Gnar

I was actually hurting quite a bit by the time we hit the top of the ridge in between the two peaks. I had to take a seat and get some carbs and fluids in me and thaw out my hands. Bill busted out some hot cocoa in a thermus that REALLY saved the day. My legs felt good but my back and shoulders werent used to hauling weight. After a refresh we had about another couple hundred feet of vert to go to the summit of North Doublehead.

Hot cocoa? HELL YEAH!

There is a hut at the top that you can actually rent out from the local ranger station....pretty sweet looking setup actually. We got the snow shoes off and began the horrifying process of trying to get frozen stiff ski boots on with cold hands. Probably took me 10-15 mins straight of constant struggle. Not fun.

I feel your pain

Finally ready to go

Views from the top were nice. Unfortunately we didn't get any action pics of the trail down. Too short to warrant the stop and go of getting the camera out. The terrain was really fun, ups and downs and plenty of turns to make it interesting. Snow was great coming down...kind of a mix of spring conditions with a bit of powder left over from Thursday. All in all, a great day trip. I'll leave you with pics from the summit.

off the back side of N.'d have to be a Maine-iac to live out this way

Monday, February 16, 2009

St. Valentine's @ Sugarbush

What a great weekend up in VT. Gina and I finally got up to Sugarbush to visit Jake and Tara this past weekend and it was a blast. Good food, good weather, good times.

Jake and I got some riding in Saturday morning while the ladies slept in and then caught a movie. We got out early, conditions were a bit hard and fast first thing but still fun. Conditions in New England aren't that hot right now so I wasn't expecting much more than that...boy was I wrong. Apparently the day before they never opened one of the lifts due to wind, and while it was windy there were also some snow squalls up top. This translated into 4-5 inches of snow that blew into the woods and had not been touched since Friday.

The crowds I was expecting never really materialized and Jake and I got at least 5 or so runs in before things started to get really tracked out. Very awesome and very unexpected. Turned out being one of my better days on snow this year. The terrain at Sugarbush is really fun I am looking forward to visiting more and getting to know the mountain better. Seems like there are tons of cool little gullys, pitches, and tree lines to be explored. I would describe a bit more about where we rode but I don't know what anything is called on that mountain yet...maybe after I ride it a few more times I will have the lay of the land down.

Jake and I took some video during the course of the day. We are both video noobs, so no telling if we will figure out how to put the footage together into something worth sharing. We only really got maybe 30sec-1min of ok footage spread out over the entire day. But who knows, if we figure something out maybe Jake will put me up on the website. And I will also post video here of course.

*UPDATE*: Jake threw something together with the footage and it actually came out pretty good! Way better than I was expecting. Check it out here:

Look for 'Orlo' from 2/14/2009

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Cannon 2/7

I decided to take the snowboard out this past weekend...mix things up a bit. Haven't been boarding yet this year. It came back to me quickly and I felt pretty comfortable on trail. Weather was pretty good, actually a bit warm at Cannon for once this year.

Later in the day we decided to head over to Mittersill as the snow on trail was starting to get a bit skied off. This is always an adventure for me when I'm on the board because we invariably end up in the trees when we head that way and I don't quite have the boarding skill set yet to pick my way elegantly through a glade....but you would never know that based on the pics Bill got of me!

Somehow Bill made my run down upper and lower Bunny look somewhat 'with it'. I have absolutely no idea how that is possible because at no point did I feel safe or in control on that run. I made it down, and in pretty decent time but I was definitely riding that knife's edge of complete disaster. I might be exaggerating a tiny bit, but I was pretty out of control.

First and foremost my board is better than yours.

Ca-ca! (to be read like a crow)


I'm pretty sure this never happened, I'm not that good.

A slight thaw continues in the area...hopefully it won't muck up the conditions too bad. I heard Cannon was a solid block of ice Sunday after the warmer temps Saturday and then the cooling overnight. Might be time to take the ice bike to the trails if Cannon is going to be a boiler plate.