Monday, February 26, 2007

Getting Old...

Today, my best friend's daughter turns 21. She recently bought a house with her boyfriend and they're talking about the "M" word. Now that she's old enough to drive, vote and drink, I suppose I have to accept the fact that she's an adult.

However, when I think back to when she was born, changing her diapers, and the little girl in the sailor dress (yes, Manda - I remember it!), I feel a little old - just for a minute.

Happy Birthday, Beast!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Tandem Togetherness

I've been away from the blog for the past week, on a business trip to the lovely city of Houston, TX. Actually, there really isn't anything too lovely about the place, unless you count the sunshine and temps in the 80s while I was there. The highlight of the week though was riding in the fire chief's truck back to the hotel (he is a colleague of mine), and having him blast the sirens - I'm a kid at heart ;-).

Once back home, Mike and I headed north early Saturday morning so that we could take advantage of the snow. We loaded our two-up (a two person snowmobile) and drove over to Gorham, NH to start our ride. Mike needed to pick up some shocks at our dealer in Twin Mountain, and from there we were going to head to Franconia Notch. The trails were in great shape as we set out in the morning, and we really enjoyed the ride, and riding some new trails.

We didn't realize the amount of traffic in the Notch. We encountered several large groups (including groups from rental companies), and the trails quickly began to show the signs of lots of sleds. I took advantage of the lower speed limit and twisty trails to do some photography from the back of the sled - it's tough to capture images even moving along at only 25 mph!

We continued on from Franconia to Bethlehem on stellar trails (flat, but twisty), and from there to Littleton and on to Whitefield before heading back to Gorham. From Littleton on, the trails were in tough shape - lots of bumps and the main corridor was along a set of rails. By the time we got back to Gorham, 125 miles later, we were both pretty beat due to the deteriorating conditions. It was nice, however, to ride some new trails.

On our way back home, we passed a load of emergency vehicles just before our house, at a river crossing the club had done a lot of work on a couple of years ago. Someone crossing hit their ski on one of the metal uprights, launching him over his windshield (breaking the windshield off as well as the mirror) and down the bank. Mike helped the rescue teams lift him up and over the bank - it appeared he had broken his leg. Guess we will need to put some planking in that section next year.
We came home on Sunday and did a pretty long tandem bike ride. Temps in MA were in the low 40s and the sun was out. The roads were a little bit wet, but there was no snow or ice. It was great to be out on the bike after a week away. We ended up riding 45 miles, and then came home to watch bike racing on TV. It was a nice weekend together after a long week away.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Stuck and Unstuck

With the Valentine's Day blizzard behind us, it was time to finally be able to ride our sleds directly from the house in Maine (for the first time in 2 years!). It was, however, A LOT of work... You see, with the large amount of snow that fell, and then the wind causing huge wind drifts, the sleds were easily sucked into the snow - they are 500 (+/-) pounds, and tend to sink into the fluffy white powder... And, let's tell the truth, it was ME who tended to get stuck, not Mike ;-).

On Thursday, we set out from the house, and I immediately got stuck getting out of the driveway - UGH! That set the tone, as I managed to get stuck two more times within 1/4 mile of the house. After much digging (and some cursing), we set out onto trails that had been packed by another sled, making the going a little bit easier. We didn't do a big ride, but without traffic packing down the snow, we couldn't manage to get much further. We managed to ride about 27 miles before heading in for the day.

On Friday, we decided that by now, people would have been out on the trails, and we would try again. The plan was to head from our place, over to Gorham and on from there to Twin Mountain. Close to town, the riding was fairly good - the trails had been groomed/packed, and there was very little traffic. We got to a point, however, where the drifts were fairly significant and no one had yet been through. Mike decided to go ahead, and of course, I got stuck...

We made it out to the gas line along the Androscoggin River, and were breaking trail through the powder. After I finally figured out how to surf the sled ON TOP of the snow, we actually had a great time (although, there were still places where I managed to get stuck!). We made it through to Gilead where we had to turn around - the going had been tough already, and any place we needed to cross the road was like jumping the sleds off a take-off ramp, landing flat into roads and fields (the plows had winged the banks up to about 3.5 feet or more at the road crossings). Heading home was a little easier since we had already broken the trail, and we ended the day with 57 miles.

After two tough days of riding powder, we decided we wanted to try and ride some groomed trails and get in some miles on the sleds on Saturday. Our friend, Rob, picked us up at 7:00 am, and we trailered to Newry to hit the trails, and head towards Rangeley, ME. The trails were awesome most of the morning, and we were able to move right along. Unfortunately for Rob, this meant missing a corner at one point, and getting COMPLETELY stuck (at least it was him this time, and not me!). We passed a couple of clubs out packing and grooming the trails - they were doing a great job with what they had, but by the afternoon, that work was really for not - the entire ride back from Rangeley was riddled with VW Bug-sized bumps. You can see how exhausting this can be in the pic of Mike - he gave up and decided to have a nap (instead of helping to dig Rob out - AGAIN)... We ended up with 175 miles for the day, but it was ANOTHER hard ride. My muscles will need a week to recover.

I was super excited that I was actually able to get myself unstuck on the trail twice while we were out on Saturday! It's a good thing, too, since the guys were off in front. I guess I had enough practice over the previous two days, that I actually learned something - of course, it would have been better if I had actually learned how NOT to get stuck in the first place...

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Wind Hold

So, with 22" of new snow in the mountains, what would you do to ski some powder runs?

Mike and I headed north to ME at 5:00 am so that we could get in some good runs on the mountain before everything had been skied off. Surprisingly, the roads were in pretty good shape given all of the snow/rain/ice from the day before. After unpacking the truck, changing and grabbing ski gear, we were off to the mountain.

The only trouble with the remnants of the storm was the wind - only two lifts were even running when we arrived, putting all the "freshie" seekers on the same trails. We took a different approach, and decided that it was worthwhile hiking up to ski down some untracked runs...

We took Lift 9 (black line) to the top of Tempest on our first "powder" run, and hiked up (red lines) to Snowbound where we could intersect with Obsession (blue lines). There were only two tracks down in front of us, so I headed down first, and immediately took a digger...I forgot that I needed to lean back in the powder, and that turning was a difficult maneuver! The rest of the run was sweet, but hard work.

On the second adventure, we decided to go a little higher - all the way to the top of Barker Mtn! Looking at the Barker quad at the top, we could understand the wind hold - I wouldn't have wanted to be on it! No on ehad ventured this high, and we skied first tracks down Top Gun to the bottom. I was spent after that - legs were killing me not only from climbing up with all of the gear, but from having to work so hard getting down in all of the snow.

Later in the day, we ventured out on the sleds for a ride. That was really a mis-adventure. With all of the snow, I ended up getting my machine stuck 4 times, and that thing is heavy! We'll go out and try again tomorrow, once some of the trails have been packed down...

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

VDay Blizzards and Treats

Happy Valentine's Day!

In New England, we are finally getting some significant snowfall. The original forecast said that we would get anywhere between 6" and 12" and then that was tapered back because everything was turning over to rain/sleet/mix. It's currently still snowing here, and Mike has gone out to blow out the driveway 3 times already. The forecast for the remainder of the day is nasty, with BLIZZARD conditions up in Maine (woohoo!).

The cold and snow appear to also have forced some of the critters to look for creative ways to get out of the weather and have a snack. I watched the squirrels in the feeders and on the whirl-a-squirrel for quite awhile. It actually looked like this little guy's paws were frozen.

And of course, we can't have Valentine's Day without treats. We don't eat a lot of chocolate at our house, but I baked up a batch of my grandpa's shortbread recipie for Mike. He's giving them two thumbs up.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Dual Sport

Morning, Sunday River, ME - approx. 20 degrees

Afternoon, MA - 32 degrees

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Scenes of Winter

Two sure signs that it's cold outside:

1. There is ice in my garden.

2. We only rode our bikes 3.5 miles before turning around and coming home.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Hard Miles

It finally snowed in New England this weekend! Whoopee - we got a whole 4-6" inches overnight on Friday. We decided that we would head out early on Saturday morning to take advantage of the new snow, and try and beat some of the crowds onto the trails.

We ended up trailering to Gorham, and decided to ride from there to Lancaster -> Groveton -> Millsfield -> Nash Stream -> Dixville Peak -> Errol -> Milan -> Berlin -> Gorham. As we started our ride, we were the first to track in the new snow, which was great. The trails from Gorham through to Lancaster were fairly good, and we tracked a good amount of the way. The snow was thin, but there was no traffic, and the fresh snow helped.

We hit the Groveton trails behind the groomer, and the trails, while thin, were good. Again, we were the first to run these trails both before and after we passed the groomer. Because of the lack of base, there were a lot of rocks and logs hit along the way. The going was slow. Mike had a rare bobcat sighting on these trails - he didn't quite get the camera out quick enough, and I didn't see it at all, but did see the tracks.

There is a bobcat in this picture somewhere...

Once we got further north, we started to hit trails that had had quite a lot of traffic, and were really bumpy. We also started encountering more riders, some of whom were a little crazy. We got out of the area as quickly as we could, stopping in Errol for gas before heading South. The remainder of our trip was pretty miserable - bumps, thin cover, rocks and logs. By the time we got back to the truck (160 miles and 8 hours later), we were tired and sore. We did have some great views today though.

Mt Washington (early AM), Groveton Parking Lot
Freshly Groomed (Trail 5), Riding the Trail
Errol Buffalo Farm, Weather Closing in on Mt. Washington (late afternoon)

I have to say that I'm not anxious to go out and repeat a ride like this. We simply need more snow. The clubs are doing a great job with what they have, but they could use a helping hand from Mother Nature.

Our day ended with a delicious dinner at the Sudbury Inn with Alexis and Susan. Good food, good company and a great end to the day.