Winter officially begins this coming Friday with the Solstice (though rumor has it that we may not get a Winter because of coincidental arrival of the end of the world). But winter came to the Upper Arkansas Valley last weekend; a little snow and a bunch of frigid air.
Monarch Ski and Snowboard Area was able to finally open this Friday. Their opening was ushered in with another storm, another foot of snow. That is damned fine news for the economy of the upper valley and the health of the mountains. Keep it coming.
But my soul isn't fed by downhill skiing, I was looking for a window to ride down in Pee-ebluh. I knew that they'd gotten a taste of snow during last weekend's storm, but I watched the traffic cams on Friday to see if the snow we were getting was happening down there. Did not look like it. So I got my butt moving Saturday morning and got down there ready to ride by 11 AM.
The sky was gray and it was not warm. And there were patches of thin snow in any shaded place, but I was good to go and that's what I did.
Got in a nice 30 mile ride. All of Inner Limits, Outer Limits, and Voodoo. Found some snow+powdered clay conditions on the very far side of Voodoo that threw tiny spatters of adobe all over the bike, but not a show-stopper by any means.
Came onto a Hawk sitting on a juniper on the front side of Voodoo.
By that time the cloud ceiling had moved north and I was riding in perfect, sunny, cool but comfortable air. No wind. Only the sound of tires crunching and clattering through the clanky shattered rocks. Nice.
Take it when you can. Just in case the end is near, I wanted one more chance to throw a bike into corner after corner.
As a postscript, I feel compelled to mention the Sandy Hook incident. This is a blog about mountain biking, and I probably have little qualification to mention this sad event here. But I have to say that there is a sadness that radiates from this tragedy. Every time I hear on the radio the statement, all of the 20 children who were killed were between the ages of 6 and 7, my throat tightens up. The adults that were killed deserve to be mourned of course. But the children, and for God's sake their parents; the pain has bottomless for them.