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Friday, January 2, 2009

Riding snowy trails on a Colorado Bluebird Day

Snow has been scarce here on the Front Range so some trails are packed so well that I can ride them on my mountain bike with ‘skinny’ (2.3 Nokian) studded tires. First thing this morning, one of my dogs, K, joined me for a tour of the trails that we can access from our property. During the non-snowy months, I always start my day with an hour or so on ‘our’ trails with K. The trails are sufficiently technical that my speed is well matched to K’s speed. I find that biking with a dog requires a few things: technical trails so that I don’t work her too hard, lots of obedience training for her so that she is well behaved around other trail users (although there is almost nobody else on ‘our’ trails - we see another person maybe once per week), and not-too-hot weather. My ride with her each morning is the highlight of my day – there’s nothing like the feeling of pedaling hard in the early-morning light with my dog trotting along beside me.
Above is a sunrise that I saw while riding recently.

And this is the Alpenglow on the Continental Divide that we saw when we got a view to the west.

A few months ago, K protected me from a mountain lion during a ride. We were descending a twisty technical singletrack trail when we came around a curve to see a lion standing about 50 yards away. We all paused briefly, and it didn’t look the lion was planning to retreat. My sweet Labrador turned into a very protective dog and started barking wildly. The lion climbed effortlessly up a high pine tree and looked down at us. I took that as our cue to leave very quickly. The lion was still in the tree when I looked back before passing out of sight. One of my neighbors works for the Division of Wildlife on their mountain lion project. He wasn’t at all surprised by my story. He said that lions will tree themselves 99% of the time when faced with a barking dog. Apparently, the tables are turned when a dog is not aware of a lion – the lion then views the dog (and her human) as prey.

Today, after my short ride with K, I went for a longer ride mostly on trails generally toward Boulder – that’s a good choice at this time of year due to less snow and warmer temperatures. It was a gorgeous day and I ended up riding for a total of almost 4 hours. That’s a long time for a winter ride. I’ve just discovered that I can actually ride snowy trails when they're well packed even though I don’t yet have a ‘snow bike’. It’s a blast being out in the beauty of winter.

The one thing that I don’t like, however, is how much many Boulder people seem to dislike mountain bikers. Today’s ride went on a trail that generally attracts Boulderites rather than my fellow mountain people that live about 1000’ higher. I try to be polite, always stopping and letting hikers pass while saying something friendly. However, my ‘hellos’ are often met with mean stares – no other reply. In fact, today I was riding along at about 4 mph on 6 inches of snow when a woman replied to my ‘hello’ by pointing at me and saying to her friend: “Is that allowed? If it is legal, it ought to be banned.” I really wanted to ask what was so offensive about me riding on the snow (on a trail where bikes are allowed and very common in the summer). I wasn’t even touching the dirt so they couldn’t say that I was causing trail damage. I was going very slowly and stopped for them so I definitely didn’t seem like a danger. There weren’t any ski tracks for me to mess up. However, I could tell that I wouldn’t get anywhere by confronting the woman so I just let it be. Her type of attitude is why I stay as far from Boulder as possible during most of the riding season. Once this warm snap is over, I’ll have those trails to myself again. I ride them only in the winter or on early weekday mornings in the spring/summer/fall.

I didn’t let that interaction ruin the beautiful day. The next hikers I saw said that it was awesome that I was out there and were amazed that I could ride on the snow. I decided to let their comment color the rest of my ride. It was day when I felt very lucky to be out exploring and having a blast on my bike.

1 comment:

  1. It was great to read your first post about you and K and how much you love biking in the snow with your dog trotting beside you. :)


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