Wednesday December 20 2006
Go Back Up
It was -9C at 7 this morning but by 11:30 it had warmed up to -1C. I figured The Gravel would present a nice dry, frozen surface so I planned on an outing later in the day. Even put in some time on the exercise bike and stretching so the left knee would bend enough to assume riding position.
At 2:15 I backed Bonnie out of the castle. After a good tickle she started on the first kick and then died after five or six seconds. Another tickle and the second kick broght her back to life. She warmed up quickly and I was surprised how well she idled and took the throttle.
Very gingerly I coasted the two-hundred feet over to the cabin and realigned for a straight shot down the hill past the pond. From there to The Gravel in the valley below it's about 1400 feet.
Half way down towards the end of the flats I was getting a bit cocky until I nearly lost the front end upon breaking for the erosion control hump at the top of the hairpin switchback. Then I nearly lost it to a series of front and rear end skids going down the steepest section right after the hairpin curve. A thirty-foot patch of bare gravel permitted us to regain our composure and saved me from what would have been a nasty down hill slide after I'd thrown myself under Bonnie.
I finally made it to the bottom after some interesting body contortions and numerous rapid calculations of the effects of gravity upon snow covered surfaces.
To my grand dissappointment I discovered that The Gravel was covered shoulder to shoulder with snow and ice with a four-foot band of sand spread lightly down the middle. Not at all the surface that I'd envisioned.
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As I turned around and pointed Bonnie back up the hill my mantra was "Going down is always worse than going up".
I handled the throttle with kid gloves on the way up and Bonnie made no complaints about pulling us up the hill at low RPM. Apart from a couple of spin-outs it went so well that as I headed up the cabin road I thought I'd take the turn past the orchard instead of overshooting and clover-leafing back around for a straight shot at the castle the way I usually do under slippery conditions.
I nearly spilled as I attempted a course correction to take me around the turn so I decided to opt for the clover-leaf approach after all. A very nice stright shot to the castle door and there I was, at the end of my 3,200 foot ride in the snow on the 20th of December.