Sunday, March 15, 2009

2nd Annual Ester Dome Winter Downhill

This year's EDWooD went down nicely. We had a third more riders than last year. Eventually I am sure some car company will be calling want to sponsor the ride. If you are reading this now and happened to be a advertising CEO for a major car company, you should contact me as soon as possible for early consideration.

This year was the first time (that I know of) that Pugsleys were used to rock the dome. That being the case, the non-fat tire riders had some complaints. Actually, truth be told, Super Snarsky and I are jerks. When we were standing around the shop Friday, some folks expressed interest and worry at what the trail would be like Saturday. We have had lots of snow in the past couple weeks, and there was something of a chance it would be a horrible pushfest. That being the case, SS and I decided to take it upon ourselves to preride the route (only as a favor to everyone else, we swear!) Friday night. Either that or we wanted an excuse to use the many lumens of power at our disposal, I can't quite remember. SS and I didn't get to the top until about 10pm. It was pretty cold and pretty dang dark, but the lights were out and we proceeded to crash our way down the hill. We crashed because the trail was a jumbling mess of rolling kickers with punch holes and crusty snow between. On 29er SnowCats, it required carrying a lot of speed and using a very light touch when pumping. Unfortunately, I didn't quite figure that out until I was already halfway down the trail. Which meant that most of the first half when I went to compress before an unweight, my front tire augured through the crust and I ended up not unweighting at all. We managed to make it all the way down, however, and not seriously injure ourselves.

Fast forward to Saturday, SS and I got lucky and somehow ended up with a pair of Pugsleys for the ride. As we rolled the first quarter mile, I realized that we had left huge nasty ruts the night before. It didn’t help that the temperature had dropped to something like -20°F overnight and made the ruts very crusty. This didn’t really concern me any, since I was now riding a Pugsley. However, when we stopped for the first time and waited for the folks behind us, Snarsky and I looked at each other and laughed. We stopped as soon as the first rider behind us came around the corner cursing and fighting the ruts with his much narrower wheels. We muttered assurances that it would get better (we hoped) and tried not to laugh and took off again down the hill. When everyone finally collected up at the halfway point, they still did not believe us. SS and I knew it was about to get good again, so we offered more soothing words and headed off again.

The last half of the trail rolls like it was purposely engineered for just this event. During the summer it can get boring because it’s just a long fast rollout. I generally prefer the top during the warmer months because it is much more technical. However, yesterday (and Friday night) it was awesome. Just steep enough that you can carry lots of speed without needing to lay on the brakes and completely littered with rollers, little kickers and rhythm sections. I caught air several times on Friday night with my own bike. With my borrowed steed however, I made special effort and took everything race style sucking up the terrain and keeping the wheels on the snow. The ruts were minimal since we had taken the whole section at speed the night before. Everyone arrived at the bottom in agreement. It is amazing how fast you can go when you know that you have a thick layer of snow all around you to soften any spills you may take. In fact, we’ll probably end up doing it again a couple more times before April gets here and turns the whole thing into a foul mud bog.

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