Saturday, December 28, 2013

SP to PR via Fat

I've had the dream for 3 years of riding from Sandpoint to Priest River, via the Pend Oreille River.  In other words, I wanted to ride the ice and shoreline for the 25ish miles that separate our 2 towns.  Why you might ask?  Why not?  I'm sure no one has done it before, the scenery is spectacular and I am always down for an adventure.  Plus fat bikes are built for such an epic ride.

A little history.  Two years ago I went out for a leisurely ride with a friend on the river's ice.  We were having a ball and started heading toward PR.  We soon realized that the ice/riding potential was more than we had prepared for that day.  It was a cool 15 degrees.  However, the ice was great with a few fresh inches of snow on it.  It was then I had the light bulb moment.  I decided we would retreat and attempt to ride all the way to PR the following weekend.  Well, it warmed up in that week, a lot.  The ice got shitty and my dream for that winter melted.

Last winter, I waited and waited for some good ice to form on the river again.  There was a small window of maybe a week where things looks decent.  But again it warmed and the thick ice never return.  Another year lost.

That brings us to this winter.  I'd thrown this idea of riding SP to PR out to a few riding buddies and they were down.  The epic ride "seed" had been planted in their heads over several beers at Eichs.  I further fertilized the idea over more beers at Laughing Dog over several months.  Amazingly, we only lost one rider come ride day...not bad, but an important one cause he was gonna take pics.  Hence, you are left with mine.

We had some freezing temps for over a week before the ride.  This combined with the Corp. drawing down the river way more than normal, made for some nice frozen beaches and good ice on the river's edge.  Ride day, the temps were just over freezing and things were thawing a bit.  However, I figured this may be our only shot this winter.  It may never be as cold as it had been for a as long again.  I couldn't really fathom waiting another year to attempt.  So, we ventured out.

To summarize that day's ride, it was everything I hoped for, but cut a little short.  We rode on huge snow covered ice fields.  We rode over beaches.  We hiked over rock walls and eddies.  We ran out of ice and shoreline a couple times and had to hike up the hillside and ride the railroad tracks (a first for me and not really that awesome).  The scenery was amazing.  The perspective on the river and winter shoreline will forever be burned in my mind.  I was smiling so much my cheeks started to ache.  This was easily one of my best days fat bike riding.

That's all the good things of the ride.  But remember I said it was thawing and getting warm?  Well, we crossed several small streams/creeks that ran into the big river.  Some had a thin layer of ice over them, that we easily navigated across.  Others, had no ice and you could see water flowing.  We could easily ride through those as well.  Because the water of the river was so low, the water in these streams and creeks were spread out and we never saw very deep water in any of them.  At most a foot of water was all we saw.  That was until mile 12.5 when one rider went to cross, what looked like one of several small streams we had crossed so many times before, but it wasn't like the others.  The ice broke revealing a stream approximately 4' wide and being 2-3' deep.  He got wet and bloody.  When you get wet...and bloody, well it kinda kills the group spirit.  We bailed out and went and reviewed the ride over beers...planning for our next attempt.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Planting the Seeds for an Epic Ride

Recently I went on an epic biking event with friends.  It was one of those rides, that when I first presented it, I wondered if anyone would actually wanna embark on it with me.  It got me thinking about crazy bike adventures and why some happen and some don't.

Typically I find that my bike adventures start something like this...drink a beer, than another, then you throw out this semi or fully crazy bike idea to your riding buds.  They ask details.  You drink another beer.  Everyone is excited.  Your ideas sounds great and everyone wants to do it.  You feel validated and super smart for thinking of said semi/fully crazy bike adventure.  The seed has been planted in your buddies brains.  At some point the night ends and you all go home.

Now the days that follow this night of bike adventure presentation are very important.  The seed that was planted is very, very delicate and needs nourishing to come to fruition.  You see the alcohol has subsided.  External diseases and bacteria threaten the bike seed in your buddies brains.  These threats to the seed can come in several forms: work schedule, wives/girlfriends (or husbands/boyfriends), conflicts with other events, weather, a riding buddy who lets liquid courage fuel his impromptu decision to throw his hat in only to bail when said liquid courage subsided...there are other threats but these are the tops as I see them.

You will try your best to fertilize the bike idea to your teetering riding buddies.  Extra beers may help.  But in the end, the threats against your idea are great and some will fall.  It is at this point, that you, the great purveyor of the crazy bike idea, might start to question your own idea.  The disease and bacteria that took down your fellow riding buddies may be now attacking you.  You must stand strong and hold to your plan.

When the glorious ride day arrives, it will be you and the lucky few that made it through the idea growth process.  Whether the ride turns out as planned doesn't really matter.  Whether it is viewed as a ride success or a failure doesn't really matter either.  What matters is that you had a semi/fully crazy bike idea, you planted the idea in your buddies brains, you fertilized it and it grew and on the day of harvest you are with friends, riding bikes.  You should feel lucky.

More to come...

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Great Scott Fat Bike Race

Schweitzer is at it again.  The first of 2, and possibly 3, fat bike races this season.  Spread the word and come on out to support.  Oh, I guess there will be skiing there as well if anyone is interested...  

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Camels Prairie Scouting

Day 2 in Priest Lake for a little fat biking.  Yesterday was a fun and easy day spinning around Hanna Flats.  Today we heading into the hills to find more snow and scout out an overnighter I've wanted to do for awhile.  We headed to the East side of the lake and up toward this little (not really) place called the Echo Bowl and Camels Prairie Hut.

Ride conditions started out great, several snowmobiles had been up the trail and snow was packed great.  Views of the lake, where I just sat and had breakfast a mere 2 hours before, were abundant and beautiful.  Signage at the intersections matched the winter rec map like a charm and navigation was easy.  However, as the snowmobile tracks took off in different directions as we rode further into the hills, so did the easy of pedaling.  In the end, we drove about 4 miles up the road, pedaled about another 4 miles and came about 4 miles short of the destination.  My plan to take this all on in a day may not be achievable.  A sad reality.  I will still go back to ride here...maybe I need more than just an overnighter...