Every year, our parent company QBP hosts an industry event called Frostbike. Vendors and dealers from around the world fly in to take part in both product and business seminars, but also just to check out the latest goods, keep relationships fresh, and hopefully have some fun to boot.
Salsa of course had a booth and this year we showed a new video project (which will make it onto our blog in the coming weeks). A few of us also got the chance to take Josh Patterson from Dirt Rag down to the river bottoms for a Mukluk ride. Josh had never done a ride entirely on snow before so he can now check that box off on his 'to do' list.
The snow ride was not the typical ride for these parts however. Normally our snow is fairly soft here. Once a certain depth is achieved you have to ride where the 'traffic' has been. Snowshoers, snowmachines, even animals help pack down the snow a bit, then it sets up harder and that's where you ride. When you ride in those conditions it is paramount to keep your wheels on the compacted track because as soon as a wheel goes off of it, it will sink and stick, you'll be forced to dab (sometimes landing on your side in the snow if it happens quickly enough and the snow is deep enough).
That experience is our normal snow biking experience.
That isn't what Josh received.
He, Joe, Jason, and I rolled down to the river trail and started off like normal, staying on 'the groove'. But within a couple hundred yards we realized that the game had changed last week with our massive warmups, and hard re-freezes at night. The snow depth was down but still a good 6 - 8" deep but it had crusted super hard. We could ride anywhere without having our wide tires break through.
It was like entering a new world. Places where we have never ridden became rideable. Any line through the trees and swamps. Any line over logs and downed trees. Any line anywhere.
I'm not a downhill skier but Brock from Orange Peel in Colorado told me those conditions are called 'crust skiing'. I guess that makes Saturday night's ride 'crust biking'.
Here are a handful of images from our ride that night. Watch for some more from Gnat tomorrow. He'll have a different take on the same experience.
Joe on his Mukluk proto riding off the beaten path
Crust so hard it was difficult to see a bike track
Streams are flowing pretty good with all the melting last week
Josh, Joe, and Jason on a marsh
Graffiti on the shortcut out back to HQ
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I love being outside. I prefer to ride on dirt. Or snow. If I was born a hundred years earlier I might have been a polar explorer. There's a great natural world out there to see, smell, taste, listen to, and experience. Life slows down out there and the distractions we've created will disappear if you let them. Give me a backpack and let me go.