Tag Archives: wisconsin

83 miles of epic snow biking

Beautiful winter scene - Imagine 9 miles of riding on a snowy road through pristine winter wilderness. That was the first 9 miles of my ride!

Another amazing day of riding up here. This time I braved the snow-covered roads leaving the Telemark resort having gained confidence riding in the snow yesterday for a mile or so. It was well worth it to be in such a remote location on winding, hilly, beautiful roads and trails that pretty much paralleled the Birkie trail all the way to Hayward. If I had done the Seely fire tower climb, then I might have even crossed part of the trail. But, unfortunately, I had to turn around shortly into my ride because I had forgotten to upload the course to my Garmin. So, I turned around and headed back to meet Kristine just as she and the kids were driving out to head back to Shell Lake. Right there on the side of the Telemark entrance road, I connected my Garmin to the laptop and transferred the file. Then I set off again on what was an 83 mile, 5+ hour, mountain bike adventure.

I spent most of the morning with a good internet connection while the kids went skiing again with Kristine and Poppa Dale. I plotted out a course that would take me from Telemark back to the Cardwell house in Shell Lake over an hour away by car. The course took me onto 9 miles of untreated snow covered roads and trails behind Telemark that were just amazing and fun to ride. Spider Lake Fire Lane started out well packed from cars driving out to cabins along the road. But eventually, once I made it past the last cabin, the snow got really deep and loose since not very many cars had driven over it. Still, it was possible to go slow on the downhills with minimal fishtailing and then crush the uphills. I would imagine that my speed on some of the uphills was faster than the downhills. It’s amazing what the extra traction of a spinning tire will do. Theoretically, I suppose you could hammer the downhills and achieve the same effect but the consequences of a fall at 30+mph make me choose the more saner option of riding the rear brake gently down the hill at a comfortable 10-15mph.

For those of you who have ridden through sand, but never ridden through snow, think of packed snow the same way you would think of packed/wet sand. Loose snow, however, is just like riding through loose sand with the same fishtailing effects. The only difference is that you are expecting the fishtailing in the sand, but not on the snow when it has been hard packed and suddenly transitions to loose or when you lose the car track you were following. Also, turning on the snow is tricky. On one downhill, I was running out of room for the turn and ended up all the way on the side of the road – but it was pretty heavily banked and I ended up sliding through the turn with my wheel still pointed off to the side. This got to me to a straighter section where I could straighten out the wheel.

I only had one bike problem on the ride, when I couldn’t shift back into the big chainring. I spent a few minutes about an hour into my ride trying to figure out what was wrong and eventually just cranked the inside limiting screw until it would shift back up and that worked for the rest of the ride although I had quite a bit of chain rub on the front derailleur so that was a little annoying to have to put up with for four hours.

Here’s the ride map and interactive data from Strava –

And here is the super hi-res topocreator map –

Telemark to Shell Lake via Meteor Hill - click on the map for a super hi-res version (13MB)

Finally, enjoy the pics and Garmin screenshots that I took on the ride –

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Adventures riding in the cold northland

New fallen snow at the lodge - sidewalks coveredTwo to one ratioDark!Snow covered ice skating pondThis is the hill warning sign on the opposite side of the valley from the hill sign that I took a picture of yesterdayBoth hills in one view
Lake Namekogan - distances to all the cabins along with the names of people living thereSnowmobile and ATV routes criss-cross all the roads up hereSnowmobile stop sign and curve sign (the backs of them)Lake Namekogan looking east - note the snowmobile tracks coming out from under the bridgeIce fishingSnowmobile tracks disappearing into the water
Great Divide of Northern WisconsinSnowmobile pulling an ice fishing hut

Wisconsin Divide, a set on Flickr.

We had an inch and a half of new snow last night so today’s ride was again on the mountain bike. The snow is perfect depth and texture for good riding as I discovered today since the road to the ski resort was completely covered all the way back out to Co Rd M. In northern Wisconsin, all the county roads get treated with salt and plowed on a regular basis so they remain relatively snow and ice free even with temps in the teens. Today I was riding through puddles and wet roads on Co Rd M and Co Rd D even with the temperature hovering around 20 degF.

The ride highlight for the day was on Co Rd D where I unexpected came across this large sign indicating the Great Divide of Northern Wisconsin. On the other side of the divide, was a long downhill. The internet connection here at the hotel is really spotty so I am waiting to upload the ride to see if it was an actual categorized climb. If you are ever wondering what I think about on long bike rides, I spent about 10 minutes of the climb working out in my head the vertical gain needed over a particular distance for it to count as a Strava Cat 4. I think to hit the 3% threshold, you need 158.4 feet of climbing per mile – I worked this out in my head making for a good distraction as I was trying to push the pace realizing that it was probably going to be pretty dark by the time I made it back to the lodge.

I pushed the pace really hard over the top of the climb and all the way back across Co Rd D to Co Rd M. I hit M just after sunset with about 12 miles left to get back to the lodge. With a cloudy, overcast sky it was already pretty dark. I could see fine even without a light, but I had to rely on my bright green neon vest for visibility. I got passed by about five or six cars on the mostly deserted road, but the last car was a local sheriff who put on his lights and told me to get in the truck that I couldn’t be out without a light. He was very nice and gave me a ride the last 3 miles back to the lodge. I apologized profusely for riding without a light as I had expected to be back well before sunset but had gotten delayed on my ride.

All in all, it was a great ride, and the pics at the top of this post are the ones I took along the way.

Yesterday, I did a shorter ride out/back on Co Rd M and also snapped a few pictures. Here they are on flickr enjoy!

Wind burnIce skating pondMountain bike beforehandRolling hills partial snow/ice coverageRustic roadTalk about multi-use … hiking, biking, ATVing, and snowmobiling
You can find hills anywhere if you look hard enough!Telemark ski resort mountainCold and pretty far north - check out the sunrise/sunset times!Finishing just after sunset 16.6 degF

Co Rd M – Mountain Bike, a set on Flickr.