You could feel the warmth and hear the running water of snow melt today. No face mask or goggles, no over-layer of wind pants, thermal boots or Bar Mitts! Spring is close at hand, but first the ice has to melt. Sunday and Monday’s temperatures were great, but parts of the Billy Wolfe were not. Snow melt, freezing overnight temperatures, and shade had created some really treacherous stretches of trail. I didn’t fall, but that’s only because I was extremely cautious. Some areas, like along Antelope park in the shade, are best avoided until they melt off. I’ve been to this rodeo before. By Monday afternoon, many areas that I’m sure were still icy in the morning were not so in the afternoon. We’ll still see some overnight freezing of that melt this week, so be careful, but it’s coming off quickly.
Along with the thaw, as everyone has noticed, potholes have sprouted. Sure, it’s an annoyance for motorists, but it’s downright dangerous for cyclists. Get too close to the gutter and you run the risk of falling into a hole or a crack and taking a header. Then there is the asphalt debris to slip on or run over. Avoiding it all may cause you to swerve into the traffic lane.
Another thing to watch out for are the puddles, and not just because getting splashed on can really put a damper on things. It’s hard to gauge the depth of a puddle or pothole on a trail or in the street. A couple of times on Sunday I’d slowed way down in anticipation of ice, and found the water underneath was deeper than what I was expecting. I had to pour on the power to make up for the loss of momentum or put my foot down in ankle-deep ice water.
Of course next comes mud season and it will likely take a while for the gravel to dry out, and longer for the limestone trails. It will take longest of all for the dirt trails and roads, so keep the bikes out of Wilderness park until it dries out. Unless there’s some snow pack left on the trails that were groomed for the Run For The Bridges this past weekend. Kudos for everyone who helped pack the trails or assist with the event that raises money to help build bridges in the park. There is a Spring Equinox hike scheduled for this Sunday in Wilderness Park, Saltillo Street entrance, at first light, 7:20-7:30 A.M. It will be 2-4 miles, if you want to get into the park on foot to see the Heron Rookery and other treasures.