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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Snow Cycling

It snowed here in the San Francisco Bay Area and gave the news outlets a diversion from the typical political, economic, and global warming banter. Wait - global what?

It DOESN'T snow here, except a couple of times a year we are able to see a dusting at the higher elevations. Sunday night and Monday morning we got plastered - down to just a few hundred feet, making quite a spectacle of the foothills surrounding the Diablo Valley.
Mt. Diablo is still spectacular 2 days later.

Providence led me on Monday to an unexpected - though not unlikely - afternoon adventure.

The first act of Providence, was that a midnight feeding (The baby, not me) rolled my waking time back an hour, placing me on highway 680 South between Martinez and Concord at day break, unlike the darkness that I prefer. As I merged onto Hwy 4 I glanced to the east and saw the eastern hills and what was visible of Mt. Diablo below the lingering clouds glowing in the dim light. It DID snow - a LOT! I was instantly mentally rearranging my day.

The second act of Providence was that I received a text message from a fellow adventurer, Chris, who was interested in skiing our local ski slopes. I affirmed my desire to play in the snow - not sure how skiing was going to happen without lifts, and with the road up Diablo closed. His second text hinted at a willingness to ride his mountain bike up - and my preoccupation converted into pure distraction. Office work was quickly becoming impossible. Processing payroll seemed stunningly dull. The morning dragged by, as I imagined the sun melting all the snow.

I had an afternoon appointment which set the scene for Providence's final act. My afternoon appointment canceled. I called Chris, we set up a rendezvous, and I started the process of organizing the thermal layers. Ella was wanting to see the snow also, which after warning her of the risks involved ("You will get very cold"), guaranteed this adventure would be worthy of bringing the camera along.

The ride was thrilling, and though difficult, was not as hard pulling the trailer bike as I thought it would be. In doing so, I unwittingly nearly completed another of this year's goals - pulling Ella to the top of Mt. Diablo. The road was closed to even cyclists at the ranger station, and between the steep grade of the trails and the setting sun, we wisely turned back shy of the top.

When it started spitting snow on the climb at around 1000' we were excited. When it started collecting on our helmets we were like kids at a carnival. We had no expectation of it actually starting to snow again, and couldn't have been more pleased. Ella got her time in the snow, and we got our adventure, nearly making it worth the frigid descent.

Yeah, it was cold on the way down. The climb kept us warm - even to the point of sweating. But playing in the snow chilled us, and the wind chill finished us off. My finger tips hurt for hours. We figure the wind chill was in the teens if not single digits up around 2000'.

As always - Well worth it.

Chris posted a compilation of video he took on the ride - available here. It's a long download, so be patient.

Also, Channel 7 caught us on video as we neared the Ranger Station at around 2,000'.
Fast forward to about 2 minutes into the video.


  1. What fun! Ella is definitely braver than I would be!

  2. Scott- I got my chance to ride in the snow on the comute home from school today. It was great fun till it turned to freezing rain (a much more common form of Greenville precip). Those little bits of ice start to sting if you go too fast on the downhill sections.

  3. I envy your daily commute.
    Ladders and lumber on the bike just don't work.