Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Man From Blodgett Canyon

It has recently come to my attention that this blog has become incredibly popular with the Hamilton Middle School set. Yes, least one teenager has read or considered reading about the amazing mountain biking exploits occurring in the Bitterroot Valley.  I was under the impression that kids of this age were unable to read more than 140 characters at a time without getting bored, so reading a post of more than 140 words is no doubt incredible.

So this new reader is the son of one of our ( I was going to say rat pack, but somehow I can't see any of us hanging around with the Sinatra and Dean Martin, or even with the newer Clooney reincarnation.  Well maybe Hanrahan could, but isn't he dead or something?) posse.  Somehow this grommet had developed the impression, after some off hand comment at the Red Barn,  that he was of my flesh and blood.  Now I know his dad and I can't fathom how this young teen could have developed this misunderstanding. Only in my fantasies, and fantasize I do, could I match his father's combination of brilliance, his poetry on the bike, and his ability to induce cardiac arrhythmia's in the opposite sex. No doubt he could hang in Vegas with the rat packs, new or old. Although Brad Pitt would likely leave Angelina at home lest she accidentally grab the wrong room key.

So the presence of this new potential readership has left me with a bit a dilemma since on occasion I have followed that enticing loamy single track across the railroad tracks and forded the gutter into territory that could possibly be considered, if you are an uptight piece of number two but apparently not if you manage the firewall at RML, lewd and crude.   So henceforth do I bleach the tighties and ascend to a more cerebral realm, or do I embrace the tastes of my new readers?

Was there really any question?  After all grown men are still just 13 year olds who have just figured out how to better disguise our tastes.

Fat bikes, tis the season for the fatties.  Chad convinced Ventana to make one, El Gordo. Classiest one I have seen yet.

If $1200 for a fat frame of mangoed aluminum is too much for the pocketbook. How does $199 sound. That's all it costs for the Mongoose Beast at Walmart.

I've been thinking a little bit more about the setup on the bike. My initial impression was single speed, coasters brakes, lame.  After more reflection, including several hours mediating with the mantra, "ohmmm, clown shoes, ohmmm, bear grease," I was enlightened and I understood this inspired creation. Assuming you can get it's max weight of 250 lbs rolling, a single speed is fine.  I don't think I ever left granny  alone the entire ride, and really how much stopping power do you need when you are barely moving.

No Gordos or Beasts showed up last night for some Blodgett fun. The valley's only snow biker, our favorite Shreky, took a break from rutting up the Como Lakes trails to do a morning recon and laid in a track for us.  As the valley's sole representative he has a hard job. In the old days he used to pre-pack the trails with snowshoes. Now he just takes abuse from skate skiers. No doubt someone is calling him right to now to complain why he rode up and down the first mile of Blodgett Canyon seven times and knocking all those trees down.

Considering that most people don't have fat bikes, that it was short notice on the wrong day, along with it being in the dark and in the snow we had excellent turnout of seven hardy souls, with one at least fat bike virgin and one Missoula visitor. The weather wasn't quite as nipplish (A new meteorology term I just picked up while watching the annual showing of "The Man From Snowy River," and a word that  became the impetus for organizing this night ride, just so that I would have an excuse to use this particular Benderism in a blog post)  as I was expecting.

Since we are tangentially on the topics of middle school and nipplish weather, I thought I would share my first memory appreciating the function of the arrector pili muscles. While most of my memories of that distant time in middle school are about as hazy as the air during a safety break, this one stands out like the gleaming LED of a Lupine Piko headlamp, so there is a good chance that this hippocampal reenactment is at least loosely based on reality.

 It was  an early spring Saturday night and I was sporting a wicked goggle tan, a side effect of having not discovered the utility of sunscreen during ski season, and I was hanging around the Skate City parking lot with some of my other nerdy friends waiting for one of our mom's station  wagons to arrive, the melody of Downtown still ringing in our ears, when somehow we found ourselves face to face with a similar aged collection of teens.  Except these people had longer hair, and the shadows cast on the building from the street lamp had some intriguing curves.  Attempts at conversation by me consisted of incoherent babbling while I tried to figure why the chilly night air make her nipples perky yet made my scrotum shrivel up.  As far as I can tell this was my first encounter with nipples since I was a babe, and maybe even not even then since I think I was bottle fed.

So last night weather was rather balmy and we thought we might need a pre ride refreshment to let the snow firm up, but in the shadow of the canyon the snow remained frozen. Riding up the trial I was consistently reminded of my general ineptitude at snow biking. With each incline I ran out of breath and started staring at my front tire inevitably resulting a game of pinball as I ricocheted back and forth off the wall of the track until I would lurch to a halt as the tire dug into a soft patch of snow.
No one else seemed to be similarly afflicted, apparently they can keep their eyes focused down the trail.

Traffic, bike and otherwise, has been light up Blodgett so far this winter and rather quickly we left the packed snow behind and started into the untouched snow.  Pushing a 4" or more tread through soft snow is not necessarily a pleasant experience. The first four people push their bikes packing down the snow. By about the sixth person in line the experience becomes something resembling riding. So we managed to drag the bikes up about a mile and a half, additionally slowed by a few trees that decided. to get recumbent this winter.

I have heard several variations of "Blodgett is a pain without snow. Why in the hell would you ride up there in the winter?"  Well the answer is: you know all those rocks that get in the way.  In the winter they all go away, and all that is left is a smooth trail. Assuming that is that some one has been there before you.  Luckily for everyone,  there is now a trail packed down, and if everyone pitches in we can ride by ride pack it down to the bridge.  Now if only I had one of the aluminum chain saw panniers like Corey, so that I could take care of those lodgepole obstacles.  Heaving the fatties over trees is a wee bit more of a challenge than usual, well maybe not if you happen to own a carbon Beargrease.

One of the nice things is that no matter how challenging making trail was on the ascent,   there is always that skinny rock and root free packed highway heading back down.  Once we had the trail established, and the hard work done, everyone opted for a short second hot lap up around the twin trailheads, with Rob and Jeff going for a third.

Watching Rob and Jeff ride their mountain steeds down the steep hillside to the parking lot after everyone had given up and grabbed beers that, even they weren't driving a herd of wild Pugsleys, they were truly the Men With the Snowy Bikes.

And to any candy assed, smart mouthed, young whipper snapper that made it this far, I think I just farted, heh, heh.

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