By – Cody Sovis
The 3rd Annual New Year’s Day Ride took on a bigger, better, more deadly adventure than ever before to kick off 2014 in seriously audacious style.
That might be slightly exaggerated, but the thirty-five folks who braved the frigid temperatures, which sniffed 15 degrees but never any higher, to try to circumvent the Vasa Singletrack. We left almost perfectly on time, with the pounding of some very strong resolutions in our heads. Part of the challenge is to undertake the adventure at the crack of 11am, with some riders admittedly still feeling the effects of sending off 2013. After posing for some Kodak moments in front of the Timber Ridge Resort lodge, the crew rolled toward the singletrack. The shutterbugs were snapping photos, spirits were high, and most extremities were toasty warm. It was a parade of fat bikes, and everyone that fat bikes draw. Kids as young as twelve, adults delicately brushing sixty, and every skill and ability in between.
The crew made it to the singletrack parking lot, which is a trek of about two miles, in just under twenty minutes. Time to refuel with some Fireball, Hamm’s beer and the carefully packaged PBRs. Hydration, as you all know, is the key to any successful fat-bike ride. Some of the youngsters headed home, chaperoned by parents claiming it was the kids who wanted to head back and not them. The hearty stayed on, zipping and unzipping, shifting packs and hand warmers, before spilling into the singletrack proper. Perfect is an understatement. Rolling terrain, well-packed trails and over six inches of picturesque powder on either side made it an idyllic jaunt through the countryside. A few miles at a casual but enjoyable six mile an hour pace was capped, once again, with a stop to empty our collective beer stores. It was here that, more riders turned back, making an about-face to enjoy the well-groomed few miles back to Timber Ridge.
The next section was not as well packed, despite hours and hours of work by snowshoe. The efforts of a few made the ride possible for many, but even with frequent stopping, it was a slog. Everyone crashed. Everyone had to hop, skip and teeter to get going again. And every one repeated this process for a little over a mile before the relief of a road brought the dwindling numbers back together.
Just six riders braved the entire singletrack, with the dozen or so other riders deciding to head back on a mostly-clear two-track back towards the lodge. They left smirking and tipping back the Fireball, with the brave remaining riders looking a bit more grim, a bit more determined. The way was not easy. With Traverse City now having over 60 inches of snow, the best efforts to pack the trail could only do so much. It took over four hours to get back to Timber Ridge, all told. We don’t even know how many beers. All of that effort resulted in just under twelve miles traveled, at a blistering 5.5 miles per hour. And this by riders who, on occasion, have won some pretty spiffy bicycle races.