A Note from Fatty: I am so sore today I can barely sit down. It’s not my legs. Not my butt, either. I’ll explain where, and why, shortly.
Yesterday was Kenny’s Second Annual New Year’s Day Squaw Peak Ride. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Squaw Peak, I’d first like to apologize for the offensive nature of the road’s name. It is not my fault.Â
Next — also for those of you who aren’t familiar with Squaw Peak — I’d like to describe Squaw Peak. It is a 4.3 mile road, with somewhere between 1800 feet (during the summer) and 9000 feet (during the winter) of vertical gain.
During the summer, Squaw Peak is a nicely paved (except for the occasional oil slick) road. During the winter, it’s covered with several feet of snow.
And yesterday, at 10:00am, it was just evil-cold. James Bond Supervillain cold. Someone said that it was 10 degrees out, though he did not specify whether that was in Fahrenheit or Kelvin. With wind chill factored in, I’m pretty sure it was kelvin.
Oh, I loves me some unit-of-measurement comedy.
Anyway, about 25 of us started the climb right around 10am. What was interesting — at least to me — was how many 29″ singlespeeds were in the group. I’d guess that more than half of us were riding this way.
The first mile or so was on pavement — snowplows clear the road up to the gate. As we rode along, my fingers, toes and nose were so cold, I started thinking up persuasive excuses for why I could turn around and go home. Acute hypothermia? Enlarged goiter? A seizure?
Or should I do the unthinkable: admit that I was cold and not having any fun?
No, that would be insane.
We passed the gate and onto the snow pretty much as a group. I knew it wouldn’t last. Still, we got high enough that we were no longer in the shadow of the mountain, and the wind died down.
Evidently, this was a cue for the fast guys to take off.
I was not numbered among them. I knew I wouldn’t be. For one thing, I did not have the eye of the tiger. More importantly, however, I do currently have the mass of one.
I rode on. Or, more accurately, I sometiimes rode, but mostly marched. The snow was soft; finding a good, rideable line was nigh impossible. I thought enviously of the guy with the Surly Pugsley I saw at the beginning of the ride. That said, the Pugsley (and its rider) stayed behind me for the entirety of the ride, so I guess it wasn’t that much of an advantage.
I Cannot Believe My Eyes
Person after person passed me on the way to the top, until I was passed by a guy named Pat. I managed to catch back up to him, and he and I rode / marched the second half of the climb together.
Pat was a great guy to ride with — funny and easygoing — which made me think: here’s another great guy riding a similar bike (he was on a 29″ SS too) on the same ride as me, at the same speed. How is it possible I’ve never ridden with this guy before?
Here we are, marching the final stretch (this picture and all others in today’s post courtesy of Brad Keyes; click here to see more pictures he took during the ride):
Who’s that on the snowshoes just behind us? None other than Adam Lisonbee. Evidently, he’s just as fast hiking up as we were “biking” up.
A minute later, my friend Bill Friedman got to the top. Now, I admit that I was warmed up — even sweating — by the time I got to the top of Squaw Peak, but Bill is clearly insane:
Seriously, Bill. It’s time to admit you need help.
And here’s most of the gang at the top of Squaw Peak.
That’s a pretty excellent photo, I have to say.
We All Fall Down
During the climb, my glasses fogged constantly, until I finally just put them in my jacket pocket. At the top of the climb, I unzipped the pocket and put the glasses back on.
Please note that I did not say, “I then zipped up my jacket pocket, which incidentally also contained my car key.”
I expected the downhill to be tricky, but at first it was entirely impossible, at least for everyone in the group. I’d try to get on the bike and it would sink to its hubs before I could get going.
Eventually, we started riding again. And, immediately, we all started falling. The snow was so soft it was like trying to steer a barge. Through freshly furrowed soil.
On the plus side, however, when the snow’s this soft and you’re falling this often, you usually aren’t going very fast when you turf it. And when you do, you just *poof* into the snow, usually laughing.
A Bad Call
I did make one rather foolish choice, however. One of the times I was heading for a crash, instead of just tipping over like I had so many times — probably ten or more — before, I did a quick clip out and straddled my top tube, trying to stay upright.
This was a grievous error.
My weight plus my speed made both my feet posthole, while my bike still floated on the top of the snow.
You know, no matter how many times you rack yourself, the intensity and suddenness of the pain always catch you off-guard.
I gave myself a few minutes to let the nausea subside before I climbed back on the bike.
Needle in the Haystack
Really, the whole way down (exceot aforementioned racking) was just a big goofy romp. I had a ball. I think everyone did.
I got to the bottom of the hill, rolled up to my truck, and went to unzip the pocket of my jacket…only to find that it was already unzipped.
I knew even before I fished around that it wouldn’t be there. I had fallen so many times I had lost count; the key could have dropped out of my pocket during any of those falls. No way would I ever find it.
I resolved myself to an afternoon of unpleasant logistics. Susan’s not able to drive yet, so I’d need to get a ride home, find a neighbor to drive back to my truck, and then drive home. Probably an extra two hours of driving, all told. Not the end of the world, but not the way I’d want to spend the afternoon (and for sure not the way Susan would want me to be spending the afternoon).
And then KanyonKris rolled up, asking, “Did anyone lose a key to a Honda?” It turns out that one of his crashes had been in the exact spot of one of my crashes, and he had found my key — and my granola bars. An awesome little piece of good luck for me. Kris, next time we ride together, I’ve got a Fat Cyclist bottle for you.
I drove home — by the time I got there, I was shaking and shivering more than at any time during the ride.
You know what may be the best part of a ride in the snow? The hot shower afterward.