Trail Ramblings: The New Year- A Blank Slate With Tire Tracks

So your past year’s commuting and sport miles are history. Miles were logged, rides were ridden. Goals were met, or not. What are you planning for the new year? By the looks of the tire tracks I see, it seems many of you have resolved to go about your business by bike, taking the weather in stride. Others are waiting for it to get a little warmer and consider this to be their off season. If you just cannot warm up to the idea of winter biking, try to keep active in other ways. I’ve read that those who exercise outdoors in winter are less likely to get sick than those who don’t, and I can attest to it.

new years ride
Great Plains Bicycling Club’s New Year’s Ride

New Year’s day was a somewhat popular day for group rides, and in my case solo rides too. If you’re on the fence about riding in winter, riding with other people can make it easier to get out and enjoy yourself. If you’re heading out of the city on trails though, you need to take a few things into account. Even though trails may be clear in town, that doesn’t mean they will be out of the city. Crushed limestone may be snow packed by use and rideable, or it may be ice packed, rough, rutted, and unpleasant. You may not know until you get there. I rode the Mopac from Eagle yesterday, and the closer to Eagle I was, the more difficult was the riding. (I was riding a mountain bike) Closer to Lincoln it was packed enough to be not much of a problem. The one area of real concern however, was the gullied spot between 176th and 148th.

gully on mopacAfter cutting across the trail the water pools and freezes, creating quite slippery conditions not immediately apparent with an inch of snow over the top. The cut has been around for months and is marked with a cone and sometimes warning signs. I’m glad I still had a little daylight before I came upon it.

ice sheen on mopacAside from possible icy conditions and dropping temperatures, twilight riding is beautiful. The pond just west of Walton on 112th Street was raucous with waterfowl coming in for the evening. I could hear them long before I could see them. Light displays seem to glow extra bright when seen by bicycle. Ice forms patterns in streams and ponds you would never see by car and wild life tracks show us we are far from being alone out there.

xmas on mopac
Someone has been decorating the trail

So while others are complaining and hating the cold, we know that with the right precautions and planning, winter is a great time to be out on your bike.