Saturday, March 28, 2009

Togwotee Overnight

I left the Togwotee Lodge parking lot Friday afternoon not knowing exactly how this adventure would go but that was ok. I was packed for an epic if it worked out that way but the goal was to gain winter camping experience.

The Fatback was loaded, and felt that way on every hill

Clouds moved in quickly and the wind picked up

The trail was firm and rideable where the groomers had recently been but in sections that hadn't been groomed in a couple of days the trail was soft and churned up from the constant snowmachine traffic.

A light snow began to fall and I wondered if the forecast was way off

The camera didn't do the steepness of this hill justice

Open areas were wind affected and required pushing

As if someone flipped a switch, the snow stopped and sun came back out

I had a rough idea where I wanted to ride but as I got further down the CD Trail, and further from Togwotee Lodge's groomers, the conditions worsened and I was pushing far more than I was riding. Sometimes I was even pushing downhill. To be perfectly honest, I was not mentally into pushing for hours on end on this trip so I spun it around and headed back uphill to a camp spot that caught my eye earlier.

There is something very soothing about a campfire

I was very pleased with my campsite. A giant spruce had fallen over at some point and its root ball stood exposed 6-7' above ground. The mass of roots and dirt provided an excellent wind break for the night.

Backpacker's Pantry Pad Thai is not bad at says it serves two but I ate the whole package

Rise and shine

Breakfast in bed was a half-frozen PB sandwich and gourmet coffee

At some point during the night, the "groomer fairy" came to visit. The first hour of riding today was some of the best snow biking I have ever had. Firm, freshly groomed trails and absolute silence were my reward for sleeping out and rising early enough to beat the snow machine's to it. I wonder if the snow machiners love the "freshly groomed" as much as I do?

For the first hour, the trails were firm and the sun was mostly out

The speed at which this storm moved and the resulting deterioration of the trail made me feel good about my decision to cut the epic short.

The predicted storm moved in quickly and conditions were changing by the minute

I need more practice at being an efficient winter camper. I had a great adventure and learned a few things which was the #1 goal all along.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Not so fast my friends... what Ma Nature is saying to the residents of Teton Valley and Jackson right now after teasing us with a splash of spring last weekend. Well, she pushed the "winter" button again and must have kept her finger on it for a while because we got a whopper.

The BT Avi Forecast reported 20" of snow in 24 hours so I had no choice but to go skiing this morning before work. The trip up Glory and then down the SE Ridge was definitely an adventure due to all of the new snow, one fresh natural slide, and the nuclear wind at the top.

Yesterday afternoon just as the storm was ramping up I snuck in snow bike ride up Pole Canyon and was surprised to find mostly rideable trail which means the downhill was super-sweet!

It is still very wintry up Pole Canyon

Since returning from AK, I have been planning to attempt the 107-mile Togwotee Winter Classic loop. Earlier in the week the weather looked to be a "go" but then the forecast got snowier AND I learned that all grooming operations for the Dubois, WY side of the route have ceased for the season. Maybe with last night's storm Mother Nature is trying to tell me something. Hmmm.

Overnight gear is ready to go

The current forecast is just one of many variables in this weekend's adventure

I am pretty sure this is not the weekend to attempt the 107-mile loop. However, it still could be a good weekend to get some quality overnight snow bike touring experience. Or, it could be an incredible backcountry ski weekend instead. Doh!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Wheel Ski

I still have snow biking on the brain and one of my favorite aspects of snow biking is the endless tinkering.

A couple years ago, JayP and I geeked-out on the idea of a wheel ski for times when you knew that you would be pushing for sustained distance. Jay crafted one out of an old Pocket Rocket ski, tested it, and never used it in a race. I have seen a few random pics of bikes on the start line of the ITI 350 with wheel skis mounted on a rack but I have never seen or heard of anyone actually using one in the race.

The pics below are from this year's race and I heard that the owner pitched the ski only a few miles into the race. I wonder if he regretted that move when he got to Rainey Pass?

I still think this idea is valid if executed properly. How about a retractable, wide, carbon ski that floated both wheels?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Spring Teaser

Mother Nature was only teasing us with a small dose of spring but I will take it. It felt great to get out on the roads Friday & Saturday and feel the speed of the skinny tires for the first time in 2009.

On the highway north of Tetonia

Saturday's ride threw me a little curveball though. 2 1/2 hours into my planned 5 hour ride I started to experience pain in my right knee just above the knee cap. I know my saddle height is correct because I adjusted my saddle Friday before my ride. Hmmm. I may go see Fitzy for a quick fit check this week just to make sure.

Speaking of injuries; this is a request to all of my riding buddies out there.


No more broken collar bones, dislocated thumbs, torn ACLs, or dislocated patellas! I am looking forward to riding with all of you this summer so be careful out there.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Early risers get firm trails

Jilli and I rallied early for a snow bike from Slide Lake in the Gros Ventres yesterday in hopes of completing the ride before the sun turned the trail into mush. It was a brisk 5F with a breeze in our faces when we started and the trail was perfect. In fact, it never really felt warm out there yesterday due to the inversion and the river being the low point.

This baldy appeared to be napping and was content to hang around

Gorgeous views are in your face on the return trip

The willow-lined trail leads to the frozen Slide Lake...where the trail is not so sweet. :)

As an experiment, I wore my Lake Winter mtb shoes and ran clipless pedals yesterday. Inside the shoes, I had rooom for an uninsulated VB sock and a heavy wool sock. My feet absolutely froze. Experiment over. Ha! Despite the cold feet, I had a great 4.5 hour ride with Jilli.

More 2009 Togwotee Winter Classic race pics have been posted here.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Indoors this week

My last three rides have been on the trainer and rollers down in the basement but that is not a bad thing. In small doses, I actually like riding the trainer and feel the benefits of the specific work I am able to do on it. I am looking forward to Saturday's long snow bike ride though.

L5 Intervals

My PT computer's LCD display is dying. The middle row display has started to intermittently go out and most of the time there is nothing in the middle row at all. Although still usable, seeing two out of three rows is not ideal so I called Saris to ask about a replacement/repair fully expecting to pay something. I was told "we don't repair them and it will $199 for a new one". Ouch! The functionality on PT computer is average at best so that number did not make me happy and I remembered Dave Harris' recent post about the 705 and WKO+'s recent update that makes tracking power a snap.

This little yellow glob of plastic is NOT worth $199!

Possible New Hotness

So instead of putting $199 towards a very average replacement, I may put a little extra towards a Garmin 705 that does ten times what the overpriced PT computer can do.

Friday, March 6, 2009


The Togwotee 100-Mile Route

Attempting the 100-mile route that I mapped for the Togwotee Winter Classic has been on my mind since last January. If Mother Nature cooperates, I am going to attempt to ride it on March 21st or March 28th.

The Dilemna: With 15,000 feet of climbing, one would like to go as light as possible. However, with only one place to refuel, or bail out, one would like to pack enough gear and food to ensure safety if conditions change for the worse. So I will be thinking about my gear list a lot between now and then but I will carry overnight least for this first run at it.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

2009 Togwotee Winter Classic

I have posted results, a short recap, and some GPX data on the Togwotee Winter Classic website.

A good time was had by all!