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Ride to the ride.
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
When I read MikeSee's blog and saw his photos about his ride up on Grand Mesa in the December snow. It made me really want a snow bike so I could do that. But...

Years ago I got a lesson in the difference between floatation and traction. I was blazing down a snow-packed county road in my girlfriend's Baja bug, equipped with huge sand tires. No problem. I'd done a little low speed testing to see where they would break loose. I was confident I knew where that was, but as soon as I got over 35 mph, all the wheels cut loose and I did I sliding 360. Well, actually a 336 that stopped abruptly with the back of the bug off the right side of the road in a snow drift.

A couple guys helped push me out, and I drove home slowly, pondering how there could be so little traction with all that rubber in contact with the snow.

A 4-wheel drive enthusiast I knew set me straight. He said the fat tires on a Baja bug are to help it float over loose sand and absorb rocky lumps. A snow tire is actually better it is narrower and has more chisel-shaped tread to dig into the snow.

I thought about it. On deep loose snow, a fat tire would have some advantages like a snow shoe. It wouldn't sink in. But on packed or shallow snow it would act more like a sled, letting the tire slip easily. On packed snow or icy surfaces something like a spike would have the ultimate traction. It would punch in and hold.

With that in mind today, I went out for a ride out of Junction and into the North Desert toward the Book Cliffs. There was a shallow layer of snow and bare ground where the sun had been shining. The roads and trails that had been used were packed snow, icy snow, ice, or frozen mud. Did I need floatation? No. I needed traction.

So I rode out on my cyclocross bike, equipped with knobby 700x32s, which measure almost 28" in diameter. (And 28er sounds better than 27 5/8er.) Surely an ice pic compared to a phat snow tire. And it was fine.

Sure, there were moments when the narrow tire sliced into a drift until my pedals bashed the crust on top of the snow. And I didn't have the low gears of a mountain bike, so walked more hills. And it was a bit harsh riding on the lumpy parts with no suspension. And the cantilever brakes weren't as effective as the disk brakes I'm dreaming of.

But overall, it was fine, dandy, fun, and good to be out there. I didn't actually slip on anything. But did wallow in a few spots and tipped over. I went out 27 1/4 Road to the Book Cliffs. Turned right. Then came back on the other (east) side of the airport. The sun set about halfway through, and I rode in twilight and then used my light. I hadn't ridden that loop before, so followed my nose and only had to back-track a couple times. Despite the dark, I came out right where I hoped I would. And the cross bike got me to the trail and back from the trail more quickly than my mountain bike would have. Four hours, door to door.

So take that, and get out there and Ride!

--Greg
 

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GUIDANCE COUNSELOR
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Nice Greg. I went out and rode the roads north of town yesterday. My 2.3 Michelin Dry 2's were a bit sketchy going down hill in spots! There were a lot of people doing target practice along the side of 18rd - so I opted to stay on the roads!
 

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Greg,
Looks like fun, how far out did you go on 27 1/2 rd.? Way out past the ohv area or into it? Just wondering, currently without work and looking for some longer rides out that way. I live in fruita on 17 1/2 rd. but would be glad to meet you in gj next time you are heading out that way if you want some company.
Andy
 

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Ride to the ride.
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Hey, Andy!

If you look on a map, the real 27 1/4 road forks off to the right just before the deep wash that the "main" road goes through on its way out to the shooting ranges. I went off on that right-hand fork. I took it all the way to the base of the cliffs. Then a slight back track to a road that went further east. Missed the main path somewhere and did some wandering on moto trails that hadn't been ridden. Found myself and more firm track near Indian Wash pond. Then got on a ridge and (I think) stuck to it or something like it until it dropped me out on the dirt frontage road along the interstate.

That's what I did.

But there really aren't any rules out there, are there? Ride what's fun. Don't get shot. There's a trail (probably more than one...) connecting 27 1/4 to 25, on to 22, and (I think, I haven't ridden it.) on to 18. I've ridden it in the warmer months. Not sure if it gets ridden this time of year. Might be a bit of a struggle if it isn't packed down a bit.

If I know you, I don't realize it. You can leave a message for me at Brown Cycles. I'm self unemployed this month, so I have time to ride. Let's do it. I'll probably bring an MTB next time, for a smoother ride.

Noah Colorado is right there in Fruita, but he rides cheater lines and he's wack. (Heh, heh, heh.)

Pet E Kis was fun this morning. It was just getting a muddy surface in the sunny spots when I was leaving.

--Greg
 
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