The Steel Shoe ice race was postponed today. But I had cleared the day to be doing something on a motorcycle so after a few phone calls and discussions with various friends a few laps at Holman’s farm seemed to be the best option. I met up with Brian Terry at the entrance to the property and hoped we’d get something out of the ride.
We’re having some sort of January thaw so the temperatures were above 40F. That combined with some drizzle and you’ve got a recipe for soggy trails. But the winter has been cold up to this weekend so the soil under the 6 to 10 inches of snow is pretty firm. The wet, heavy snow and thawing dirt underneath made for some interesting riding. Brian and I agreed that someday we might have to race in conditions like this so all would not be lost in getting some laps in.
Brian and several other Wisconsin-based riders are headed to the opening round of the National Enduro series this coming weekend. Getting a ride in today was good for Brian, although he probably hopes the conditions are not the same in South Carolina as they were here in Wisco today.
The snow depth varied depending on if we were in the open or in the trees. Consequences were the same no matter what you rode over; frozen ruts pushed you off course just as quickly as a snow covered tree. The melting snow and eventually the peaty soil that makes up Holman’s was really heavy so it felt a lot like horribly muddy conditions (except that it took me only 10 minutes to hose the snow off my RM-Z250).
I must confess that I was riding on studded tires whereas Brian was on fresh tires but they were not studded. The combination of my studs and a small-bore 4-stroke made finding grip a lot easier for me that for Brian. Brian said he was riding several gears higher than normal just to keep the wheelspin down. You can actually see him downshift a few times when he approaches one of the turns in the video. I’ve never ridden with studded tires in the woods and hearing them scratch on rocks and feeling the trust in acceleration on wood was rad.
At the end of the day we were happy we went. The temperature was fine, the trail was challenging (albeit short), the clean up was easy and getting a ride in during a January winter is pretty unusual. I’m hoping to get over there a few more times in the upcoming months. Our winter is far from over so the ground will firm up again. That might be a whole other riding experience.