“Wanna ride tonight”, Chad asked me after a titillating description of snow biking conditions at Lolo Pass.
My immediate gut reaction was disbelief. After all this was a “school night”. There was one thing that could temp me to go. I immediately emailed my friend Jill to see if she wanted to go. It would be my virgin ride on a snow bike and if there was one person I wanted to help me into this ultra cool sport it would be her. She replied that she regretfully couldn’t pull it off.
So I just dropped the idea out of my mind, and got back to Chad. I gave reasons why it would take me a while to prepare and suggested maybe this weekend.
“let’s go. tonight”, I got in return.
That was it. Ask me twice and my heart will chime in. It took me two seconds to reply, “OK”.
And with that a giddiness came over me as I twittered, “Is going to Lolo Pass to do a FATTY ride … SWEET …0/0”.
“What, where?”, Norman commented almost as soon as I posted my tweet.
A couple short bursts of social networking and the date was all set. Norman would get to take Jill’s Pugsley out and we would meet Chad on Lolo for a trek to Lolo Pass. I excitedly went home and quickly threw some stuff together. “This is how skiers must feel”, I said to myself.
I was crunching on some corn nuts when Chad rolled into the Lolo gas station. We loaded up the Red Barn van and headed for the snowy wonderland at Lolo Pass. Once we were at the pass and bikes unloaded we were ready for my first ride on a fat tire bike.
“Norman … is that you?”, a female voice said from the other side of the parking lot. As she emerged into view from the parking lot lights she said, “what are you doing up here?”
“What? Will you be at work tomorrow”, …like Norman was committing suicide or something. “Your going to bike? How?”
So as Norman began to explain that this is normal behavior I was questioning what my friend did for a living. Given that a car full of women out in the middle of nowhere had recognized him from about 50 yards in a dark parking lot.
The conditions were not optimal. Lolo Pass gets groomed on the weekends and a recent snow storm had dumped about 8 inches of fresh stuff. Lucky for us some snowmobiles had been out there since then and somewhat packed the trails. But just enough and the going was slow. We averaged about 4 miles an hour, maybe 3. This all meant spinning out a lot and some zigzagging down the trail. I washed out a couple times and putting my foot down real fast was not a good idea for my injured right knee. Every time I mounted or dismounted (sometimes falling over) I felt a tug at the back of my knee. By the end of the ride I could hardly walk.
Not to be deterred by my personal challenge of being “winged” we did have a great ride. The moon was out in full force and at times the sky was a real dark blue. The skies were semi cloudy which made for some real cool tree/cloud/moon scenes. AND I was lucky enough to have found my previously lost camera. I never used the flash once. It was so bright out we didn’t need lights but had to use them at times to find the best lines through the semi packed snow.
The trail seemed to be going uphill and the going slow. Around the 4 mile point Chad stopped and proposed to turn around. It had been just around an hour and twenty minutes but the conditions were just to loose. We stuck the bikes into the snow banks and enjoyed the scenery. Chad whipped out his secret weapon against the cold night air … a thermos full of hot coco. It hit the spot just right and enabled us to stand in freezing temps just a little longer to soak up the moons rays. The scene was surreal.
Going back it was evident why we were dragging ass on the way out. It took us like 5 minutes to cover a couple miles. Bombing down the hill I got the feel why this sport is so freaking cool. There is no way we could do this on regular mountain bikes. I was ripping down a snowmobile trail about 16 MPH while snow was swirling up and around me like a vortex from a car going down a snowy road.
Between stops to find our fingers we were ripping down the trail and on one such session I caught a rut and stuck the bike into the bank. Usually one would go over the bars and enjoy a nice fluffy landing on their face. But I was so worried about my knee I just stuck with the bike and ate the handlebar. Even with this great idea I did have to fall over and getting back up … you guessed it … felt the pain in the back of the leg. OUCH!
So I made my way back stopping for glimpses of a beautiful meadow or a warmly lit cabin buried up to its eves. Rolling into the parking lot I had to hurt my leg just one last time by taking the Mukluk our for a spin. Knowing full well that I had pushed my luck with my leg far enough I finally relinquished the bikes while Norman popped the cap of a “Face Plant” beer. What the heck. My leg hurt so might as well get a buzz on.
Sipping some of Bayern’s finest we were able to reflect on our ride and really let the freezing arctic air sink in. It was a great night. After a while it was a full on shiver fest so we hopped into the van and put an end to a great night. It was my first fat tire snow bike. Thanks Chad.