Friday, January 11, 2008

The trails around Duluth are rock hard, but slippery...perfect for my set-up re: AH 135...But will these primo conditions last?

Rambling muse on the fate that awaits:

About this time last year here in Duluth, we had very similar trail conditions leading up to the Arrowhead 135. Hence, I remember seriously considering racing the Kelly Knobby X equipped with 2 inch mtb fast rolling tires. The Kelly is a great bike due to itz multiple applications, plus it is very light compared to the Gunnar 29er. I guess I am not really seriously considering the Kelly because of last year's experience with the marshlands that exist just beyond the halfway point of The Race. The Kelly, while versatile is not a mountain bike and the Gunnar certainly would be a better choice if conditions are less than rock hard. (Note: Both bikes have soul, were made by guys that I have personally met, guys that love cycling, and guys that are trying to make a well crafted product in the good ole USA--a rare thing now with the advent of the Wal-Martification of the world). Still the Kelly is fast and comfortable for just about all conditions except for snow. For example, last night I rode for 90 minutes on the local sno-mo trails on the Kelly (equipped w/ 700cX35 cross tires) and I was was scary fast as the hardpack is smooth and rockhard, it was only on the corners that the potential for a washout caused me to touch the brakes. Last year's AH 135 course was initially such that one felt like he or she was in a bike race. The Kelly would have afforded the author an advantage in the first half of the race. It was not super fast as the course was rutted and the snow was coarse and grandular. Coupled with a relative high degree of friction from the bitterly cold temperature, I would say that on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being wide-open fast (like currently here in Duluth) and 1 being unrideable, last year's initial 60 miles or so was about a 3...Of course, what no one knew was that a major section of the second half of the Arrowhead course was essentially unrideable due to inadequate snow cover. At about the 80 mile mark or so the course drops into an expansive low-lying marsh complete with briars and hummocks. Last year, with it's dismal snow depth, this span of the trail was simply impossible to ride, even for the guyz on the clown bikes. I would estimate that I walked at least 25 miles (maybe more...we walked for hours and hours and hours) and I know from speaking with others and reading race recaps, that the other finishers agree with this assessment. Finally, with about four or five hours to go to the finish, the trail vastly improved and with the addition of a significant heaven-sent tailwind the final stretch bordered on being pleasant. So...I guess what I am getting at is I better be careful about what I wish for. Still, A big snow anytime in the week leading up to the start of the Big Dance would make riding nearly impossible on a standard mountain I am praying for cold temps...but no SNOW!!!!! No Snow No Snow No Snow No Snow.....

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