I ignore my phone a lot, leave it on silent mode, so I didn’t see the text until this morning, the one that said we were riding bikes. I sat and pondered. “Do I have time to switch my tires over for the studded pair I bought last winter? Do I really need them?” I thought.
Laziness being what it is, I opted to drink a second cup of coffee.
And on the way to the trailhead, as we spun our wide tires over the asphalt, I felt pretty good about my decision. My companions rolled alongside me, the metal studs in their own tires crackling over the pavement like a mile-long strip of bubble wrap being popped.
And then we entered the woods.
To say the trails were rideable lacks nuance. They were. Or rather. The narrow, packed strip that ribboned through the woods was rideable as long as you kept both tires firmly within its bounds and milked the minimal bits of momentum available for all they were worth. I encountered several tight situations where my front tire strayed minimally from the rideable zone, bogged down and then cut my rear tire loose as I tried to put power into the pedals, so I ended up with a tire in each snow bank.
My riding crew, those with the right set up, did a little better, but not much. Anything not in bounds necessitated a full stop/restart, and seeing the rideable line was challenging too in the low sunlight and mottled shade. Someone thought maybe a pair of yellow-tinted shooting glasses might help.
Once or twice I lost it on a twisting climb and found I had to push to the next flat spot, because from a dead start I didn’t have enough rear tire traction to get myself on the bike and rolling. I couldn’t get up to the slow jog necessary to make a rolling start either.
I reflected on my choices. On the one hand, good for me for getting the text last minute and still rallying for the ride. On the other hand, I had long since burned off that second cup of coffee when I recognized that studded tires might have saved me a few bails and a couple of hard restarts. When I got home I made a third cup of coffee and resolved to get to that tire thing. Later.