Surviving the 0° Degree Ride

car thermometer reads 5°

The thermometer in the car at the parking lot read 5° F. Brrr…

Sometimes I have normal thoughts.  For instance, when I looked at the temperature in my car in the parking lot and it read 5° Fahrenheit, I thought, “Wow, that sounds cold.”

But then the abnormal part of me took over and I never thought, “Maybe I shouldn’t ride today.”

I was meeting Joe Worboy and Dan Fausey, my Breakaway Quickdirt Trek teammates, for an 8am ride at Alum Creek State Park.  We were meeting at the parking lot below the dam and were planning to ride for about 3 hours.

I was the first one there and I huddled in my car with the heat on high.  I wanted to keep my hands and feet warm for as long as possible because I knew that was going to be the biggest challenge of the day.

Joe Worboy's Trek Farley fat bike with oven mitts on the handlebars.

Joe Worboy’s Trek Farley fat bike with oven mitts on the handlebars.

When Joe and Dan seemed like they were close to ready.  I popped out of the car and hopped on my bike.  “Let’s get going,” I thought, “I need to get my heart rate up before I get too cold.”  …and then Joe moseyed on over to the port-a-potty to create some yellow popsicles.

I stood there with Dan in the frigid parking lot waiting, but it was already too late.  My hands were starting to feel chilled.  It took so long that I was certain Joe was creating a 12-pack of lemon pops.

When he finally came out we started pedaling across the open tundra.  While Joe and Dan were on fat bikes, I was still on my regular singlespeed mountain bike.  I stood on the pedals and aggressively started sawing the bike back and forth.  I left Joe and Dan behind me.  I felt bad about it, but I wanted to get my heart rate up for warmth.  I climbed up the snow-covered slope to the top of the dam and my body felt warm enough, but my fingers and toes were still uncomfortable.

Was I tough enough for this ride?  I still wasn’t sure.

James Knott, Dan Fausey and Joe Worboy

James Knott, Dan Fausey and Joe Worboy on a leisurely Saturday morning ride at Alum Creek State Park.

When we finally got off-road it was nice to have the protection of the trees.  Maybe it would start to feel warmer now that we were weaving through the woods.  I looked down at my Garmin.  The temperature read -.3°F.  If someone had said we were going to be riding in zero degree weather, I might have second-guessed my decision to ride.  Let’s face it…  that is justifiable indoor trainer weather.

Lower right hand corner... photographic proof that it was crazy cold.

Lower right hand corner… photographic proof that it was crazy cold.

But, Joe and Dan are training for some fat bike races in Michigan.  They have to be ready for some pretty nasty weather.  If they can’t survive these conditions, then they are just wasting their registration fees.  This was there opportunity to test out their winter set-ups.  Could they stay warm?  Could they keep their bottles from freezing?

And me, I was worried if I pulled out they would call me a wimp.  I was gonna suffer, cuz ain’t nobody gonna call me out like that.

James Knott crosses the frozen creek at Alum Creek State Park.

James Knott crosses the frozen creek at Alum Creek State Park.

But then a crazy thing happened as we progressed through the singletrack.  I got warm.

The word “cozy” might be a stretch, but I was pretty comfortable.  The wind was low.  The sun was out.  Once you got past the temperature, it was actually a perfect day for a ride.

The trail was covered in snow, which had already been traversed by several fat bikes, but there was no ice.  Traction was great.  I still rode with caution, especially on the bridges, which can get quite slippy, but we were making good time.  This was a training ride and we were definitely getting some work in.

Joe Worboy crushing frozen singletrack at Alum P1.

Joe Worboy crushing frozen singletrack at Alum P1.

Overall, it was a perfect winter ride.  We would push ourselves for a while, then slow down to hang out, and then push ourselves some more.  We were outside for almost 3 hours.  We rode for most of that time, but stopped to smell the wintery roses a few times.

But, I haven’t mentioned the best part of the ride.

About half way through, we noticed a growth on Dan’s chin.  As we rode, it just got more and more amazing.  Dan had given birth to most beautiful ice beard I had ever seen.  I was so jealous.

Dan Fausey has an ice beard.

Dan Fausey had the most amazing ice beard I had ever seen.  My ice beard pales in comparison.

Within a few days, the temperatures had warmed up and rain had fallen over Central Ohio. The singletrack is now soggy and unrideable.  While I can appreciate the warmer weather, I will fondly remember this frozen ride as one of the best from Winter 2017.  I truly can’t wait for another snowy ride.  Hope to see you out there!

Don’t forget to “like” Quickdirt on Facebook.  Also, make sure to check out Dan Fausey’s blog, MountainBikeTrailerPark.com.  Some of Dan’s musings can also be found at DirtRag.com.