Conditions were absolutely perfect. The gravel roads had seen heavy snowmobile use since the snowstorm Saturday night, resulting in a packed highway for our fatbikes. It was cold — in the low 20s — but calm. I heated up quickly on the climb, opening up my vest and stuffing my heavy gloves in my stem bag, letting my sweaty hands breathe through just my thin wool liners.
Evan and Shannon took off like rockets and soon I was alone for a bit. I settled into a rhythm of easy spinning, not wanting to aggravate the knee that I’d badly bruised last week. The cold, dark silence was comforting. After a long day of sitting behind a computer, it’s easy to fall into the inertia of laziness and be tempted to stay inside where it’s warm. But it was the last chance we’d have to enjoy the snow before it would be decimated by rain, and I have never regretted getting outside. It can be hard to get out there, but once you do, it’s always worth it.
I hear a hum behind me and turn to see lights in the distance — a fleet of snowmobiles. I hurriedly maneuver my bike off the road, tripping on the crusty snow that lines the snowmobile tracks. At least 15 sleds go by. Once they’re gone, I begin to climb again, breathing in the noxious fumes of their exhaust. We are passed several more times by various groups of snow machines. They’re all out tonight, enjoying the snow one last time just like us.
At the top of Telephone Trail, we stopped to don layers for the descent. We’d ridden down the singletrack on Sunday, breaking trail that was now a 5-inch wide groove breaking through the hard, crusty snow. We all turned up the brightness on our lights.
Staying on the broken-in section of trail was like riding a skinny that just kept going on forever. The amount of concentration and focus to stay balanced and headed in a straight line was incredible — and absolutely exhilarating. The snow on the sides of the groove shimmered and sparkled in my light on the periphery of my vision, which was pointed like a laser about 10 feet in front of me as I stared at where I wanted my front wheel to go. I was in the zone, flying down what was more like a luge track than a trail. We were in a beautiful, magical world of sparkledust.