Friday, February 10, 2012

Return to Rothrock

This week I returned to State College to see old friends and ride old routes before I take off to Georgia. I'm making it a bit of a winter training camp, minus teammates and much of a schedule. Yesterday I tackled a decent distanced gravel road cx ride. The snow made for challenging climbs and sketchy descents.

Up Bear Meadows - Across Wampler - Down Gettis Ridge - Up&Down Beidleheimer - UP Greenlee - Down Bear Gap - Up&Down Laurel Run

@ John Wert, about to start final push up Bear Meadows Rd

At first the roads were in great condition. Enough petro-pioneers broke through the fresh snow and made pressed tracks to follow. As long as I kept within them my wheels kept turning and I didn't have much issue with grip.

It wasn't until Wampler that things got messy, with patches of mud being exposed, and slippy slush forming.

I made it to the bottom of Greenlee, the legendary grunt that crushes many-a-soul near half-way of the Wilderness 101, without much trouble. Even when all white, the snow was a multitude of textures, melting at different rates and keeping me alert.

At first I opted to continue out to Whipple Dam State Park and push the entire way up Laurel Run Road, but I was feeling good and a nearly all melted Greenlee seemed to beckon me towards it. I easily forgot the rather common knowledge that it's colder at higher altitudes and pushed up the hill I used to curse. The exposed road was by no means a faster surface, feeling at times like the home experiment of cornstarch and water. Then of course, further up there was all snow making the steepening pitches a bitch to pedal.

Descending Bear Gap was slower than hoped for. The well-traveled tracks gave way at random intervals, having me go for the untouched, deep center snow. It slowed me down some, but I subsequently lost most braking power with iced up brake pads and constantly snow covered rims. Then I forgot even more common knowledge: If you think about falling, chances are you're going down. Luckily there was soft snow to slide and land into.

All in all a great loop. It reminded of how beautiful and fun exploring Rothrock is.

Soon snow rides will give way to whatever the Southeast has to offer.

First race will be Southern Cross, soon after I get down there.

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