Sunday, February 4, 2007

cold moutain riding

The weather yesterday looked to be cold. It turned out to be. Here are yesterday's actual temps in the valley:

That's right, at 11am it was 24 degrees, with a wind chill that made it feel like eight. Ah yeah, time to go riding.

So I left my house a little before 10am and headed up towards the mountains. I battled the wind for about five miles, then got to the mouth of the canyon (Means Hollow) and started up the snow-packed dirt road...up, up, up about 1200 ft to Ridge Road, which looked like this:

Twelve hundred feet is my estimate. Shippensburg, PA is listed at 656 feet above sea level. The Birch Run Shelter on the Appalachian Trail, which one passes just a stone's throw away on Ridge Road, is 1795 feet above sea level, according to this site, and I'm fairly confident that Ridge Road, at it's highest point, sits a bit above the shelter. (Of course, the road doesn't just go straight up, so to get up 1200' you end up climbing quite a bit more.)

Here's the bike:


After the climb I rode several miles north on Ridge Road along the spine of South Mountain, planning to make my way as for as Mt. Holly Springs for lunch. Those mountain roads are tricky though, and I ended up making a wrong turn that brought me down to Pine Grove Furnace State Park (about 850' above sea level), which wasn't really where I wanted to be.

From there I considered taking route 233 north until I could get back on track, but the road was still icy/snow-packed on the shoulders, and there was enough traffic that I was made nervous by that combination of circumstances. Also, I'd already been out an hour and 54 minutes; making Mt Holly Springs by the route I had planned would take at least another hour, maybe more.

Also, my feet were cold! One of the most significant problems with cold weather riding is the negative energy transfer from your warm feet to the ice-cold metal pedals and crank arms. I was wearing two pairs of neoprene booties--enough to warm my feet right up when I got off the bike and danced around a bit--but booties don't insulate against the shoe-pedal contact point. I haven't figured out how to solve this problem yet.

Anyway, from Pine Grove Furnace I climbed back up to Ridge Road, then back to the Baltimore Road intersection (about 1900'). From there I opted to take a different route home, riding east on Baltimore (crossing the AT again) about a mile to Big Flat, where I caught Birch Run Road all the way down to Chambersburg Reservoir (about 1000'). Birch Run had been heavily traveled by both snowmobiles and four-wheelers, but I didn't see any out while I was on the road.

From the reservoir, I begin climbing back over the ridge again, but once more took a wrong turn and ended up climbing probably 200 - 300' feet more than I needed to, about 800' in total.

Finally back to the valley, though even at this point I took several wrong turns, on purpose this time, thinking I had found new, less traveled, more fun routes to make it back down. These efforts proved fruitless, and only resulted in my having to climb several more hundred feet as well as having to do quite a bit of walking.

Val took a couple of picture when I got home:

Including one showcasing the salt stains on my butt--tell-tell signs of a good long bike ride.

Total ride time: 4:55:23

Total miles: 51.3

Total climbing: 3500-4000'

Number of mud splats on goggles: 22


UtRider said...

Wow - I wish I could have been with you on that ride. Sounded like a good time. Did you have a hard time keeping your water from freezing?

You should think about wearing the ski goggles on some of your cold weather road rides. That would be sweet.

goat said...

I wish you were there too, man.

The thing with the water is that in a camelback you only have to worry about it freezing in the tube. If you remember to take a sip every 10 minutes or so then there's no problem.

That's not to say it didn't freeze, which it did, when I forgot to sip for a while. So I just stopped and put the tube around my waist for a few minutes and that worked okay.

As for the goggles, I started out the ride with my glasses and had brought the goggles only as a precaution. After just a few miles I realized the goggles were a much better idea, but they seriously limit peripheral vision in a way I wasn't used to on a bike.

vandyman said...

I feel like such a wimp for copping out of bike commuting all but one day this week because Tennessee was down in the 20s...

'course I don't have those cool ski googles or neoprene booties, though.