|Snowmaking, St. Mary's Winona, MN|
|Working the Thomson Res, Thomson MN|
There was a time when I would hop in the car and drive as fast as possible to the nearest snow, ski my brains out (nordic, tele, depending on where I lived and what my jones was) hop back in the car and go home. The formula was that I had to ski in hours more than my round trip drive. Well, that time has changed and for many reasons.
Now I find myself less defining myself by my activities and more by my attitude. I NEED to get outside everyday. What that "tool" is to get me outside does not define me, but allows me to get my fix. One day it might be skis, it might be a bike, ice skates, Kites, climbing boots, paddles, fly rods, guns you name it. The key is being able to learn to do all these things and then understand when conditions are perfect for each of them. I am done picking one sport and rising and falling with its current conditions, I applaud all the dedicated ski folks out there no doubt. My father and his crew are actually pioneering their own snow making in Winona, MN to satisfy the needs for that areas skiers and that is pretty amazing, but I have to say while I was down there I had some of the best bike rides of my life while the guns were blowing and the folks were waiting ptex in hand.
It does occur to me that right now in my area, it is the perfect Snowbike time. Any more snow (yes we have a little bit) and I would have to rely on some sort of packing to ride a trail etc. Any less snow and I would not be able to hit the ice. The ice is nice and thick and the rivers are freezing to the point where I can ascend/descend right down the falls and rapids, now frozen solid into perfect ramps. I am riding areas I have only dreamed of hitting on anything, let alone a bike, and that has my attention, my rapt attention as this could change tomorrow and my tool could then change, and it might not be as free or as fun as the tool I am working with right now.
The ice is the key. It is like new roads where I have never had one. Certainly being safe, checking ice depths and knowing the water I am riding over is key and I recommend using this simple guide if you go. Once you know what is safe and where you can ride, it is insane the amount of terrain it opens up to your imagination and fat tires. However, watch that weather report, who knows it might actually snow and screw it all up.....