Monday, February 05, 2007

So Ric-MORE had it's 1st Annual Superbowl ride on Sunday and it was a blast!
Despite being in the mid 20's to start the ride, 17 people in all showed for the ride that took place in Sherando Park/GWF.
Our route had us treking a total of 24 mls from beginning to end, with about 2500' of vertical climbing from base to highest point. (As opposed to total feet climbed which was certainly more)

When we started out, it was brisk and cold out on Coal Rd parking lot, but there was sun beaming on us to help take some of the nip out of the air. 6 miles and about 300' of elevation later, the sun was going away and it was getting a little breezy just before we started up the 8.5 ml climb to the top. About 4 mls into the climb, it was getting noticeably colder as I started to suffer from cold fingers and toes which is not common for me, even in cold weather. The winds where kicking up and flurries started to fall. About this time we reached a point where snow and ice remanned from a previous storm, this made the climbs harder as you suddenly would hit a slick spot; before you even could react to the slight slippage, you were on your ass! It really was quite funny at times. Sometime around here I had to stop and I tried the HEAT inserts in my shoes. MY toes were crazy cold and just last week I saw some photos of frostbite, I certainly didn't want any part of that!

By mile 6 and about 2000' of elevation change later, the snow was really buzzing all around and mixed with the evergreens made for great scenery. By this time, my camelPak was frozen, and so was my water bottle! Even my gels were more like molasses even after trying to warm them up in my gloves. By the time we reached the top, the snow was is full effect and temps had to be mid teens at best. This made for an interesting scenario as we were all really cold and we had 3 options to get back to the cars.
1) Turn around and go back. (This is the longest option at a 17 mile return trip)
2) Head down Slacks / Tory Ridge into Sherando which would be about 13 miles.
3) Head down Mills Creek ( About 6 miles, but with 4 major stream crossings, 2 usually 20'+ across & a major downhill section that in the dry is gnarly)

Being as cold as we were, everyone voted to go the shortest route and chance the creeks. The switchbacks/downhill was gnarly as thought, but it wasn't so covered in snow that slipping was an issue. The wind was cutting through my gloves like a pins into a cushion! I had to stop repeatedly to warm up my hands before continuing to the next section. This also allowed for me to snap off a few pics of others bombing the trail.

This was one of the coolest parts of the ride (pun intended), we were now on the south-eastern side of the mountain and the snow was falling hard, but the sun was starting to shine through the clouds. It looked like fairy-tale land or something.

As we approached the bottom of the mountain, the flurries stopped and the sky turned blue as the temps raised by about 15*. I was no longer able to see my breath as the heat from the sun's rays were being soaked up by my clothes. You know it's cold out when you can feel the sun light instantly!! Fortunately for me it was getting warm as the last stream crossing brought with it a dunked left foot! Damn that was cold water.

I tried to warn Lisa as she was crossing the stream; as I was doing so I hear splash! She yell from the stream, "you mean like this?", as her foot in under the water up to her ankle.

I tell her we really need to hot foot (pun again) back to the car, we don't need to be taking our time as cold as we were and now being soaked.

With only a 2 mile ride to the car, we were changing out of our wet gear in no time flat.

This was a great trip with a variety of riders and levels. In fact there were quite a few folks riding Sherando for the first time and it was Lisa's longest single ride.

Pics to come...