O.K., it was really, REALLY cold this morning. I mean freeze-the-snot-IN-your-nose cold. I noted 16 degrees on my Subaru’s thermometer just before we started. It may have been one of the first times I finished and was worried that I did real damage to my toes from frostbite. I’m going to have to address that, but maybe later.
Al Northouse graciously invited me out to ride with him and his buddies a couple of weeks ago for a Saturday morning ride. House painting projects did not allow me to take him up on the offer until this morning, but I couldn’t have picked a better ride to join them on (besides the previously mentioned chilly temperature). We met in Caledonia just before 8, which at this time of year means just as the sun rises, and were greeted to a bright, clear, sunny day. Sunrise and sunset rides are really difficult to beat when it comes to satisfaction and enjoyment of the great outdoors.
The group, as I came to find out afterwards, refers to themselves as the CalCycling Group. CalCycling is short for Caledonia Cycling (just in case you didn’t make the connection based on where we started). We rode with 10 of us today, but the group is claim to over 70 members on FaceBook. A number of the riders get together for weekly night rides as well and is known as the Tuesday Night Ride (TDR) group (can you guess which night they ride?).
I love the fact that there are all these riding groups around West Michigan. Without much digging, between local riding groups and bike shop rides you can find a group ride just about any day or night of the week. Through these groups, I’ve met a whole bunch of really fun people that I would otherwise never run across. The more groups I ride with, the more I find how and through whom different groups are also connected. It’s an awesome web of enthusiasts.
Today’s ride was a mixture of old railroad bed, country gravel roads, and (thanks to Al) some snowmobile trails. We’ve been hit with a few inches of snow over the past few days, so the railroad beds were both challenging and a riot. About 3-6 inches of snow meant those of us on traditional mountain bikes (there were two Fat Tire Bikes with us this morning) got a good core workout just trying to keep our bikes upright. We weren’t always successful. I’m pretty sure that the post I hit moved out in front of me just as I was passing it, too.
The snowmobile trails…well….they were a bit of work 🙂 It was a combination of fresh snowmobile packed snow; deeper snow tufts left by the gap between a snowmobile’s ski and track; and plow ruts from the farmland the trails are built on under the snow. In our defense of choosing (or maybe agreeing to) this trail route, we thought the snowmobile trail across some open field was going to be a short-cut back to our cars. After an hour and a half into our ride, a short-cut to warmth sounded fantastic. There was a small amount of good hearted ribbing after we completed that section, but I didn’t notice anyone without a smile on their face.
Afterwards we warmed up over coffee, a light snack, and bike conversation at Essential Bean Coffee. This all seems like a great habit to start. The other would be taking pictures so I can share them, but I was too busy enjoying the company to pull out the camera. Maybe next time.