As I sat in the parking lot at Slate Run Park, waiting for Mark C and Steve O to arrive, I looked out over the bleak landscape, one that I had seen too often and for far too long this winter. The scene reminded me of my childhood when I lived in Siberia with my mother and father, my father doing time in the labor camp for having been on the right but wrong side of a political dispute. As we neared his scheduled release, we learned we had an opportunity to emigrate to Ohio. I studied Ohio and learned the winters were much milder than the brutal winters in my homeland. Not until this year, have I endured a winter that reminded me too much of what I experienced as a child. You see, my last name is Wilson but orignally it was Wilsonofski.
Anyway, we headed out into pretty deep snow. Mark and I hiked with Steve for about a mile and then I urged Mark to take off running and I'd be right behind. Of course, my strategy was for him to break the deep snow which frequently was up to my middle calf, making my way easier. We ran through the fields and then into the wooded gorges and finally reached the Buzzards Roast parking area, 3.3 miles from the start. Mark does not run fast but he also can run forever so as we headed back I was ready to walk for awhile and wished him well. On my way back I caught up with Craig Butler, who was out snow shoeing. I asked Craig what he planned to do this season and among many ambitious goals he has signed up for a 50 mile trail running marathon. Craig is also having some difficulty sourcing all the components he needs for that sharp new custom frame so he may not open the season with it. I arrived back at the parking lot with 6.4 miles and for the day, hopefully a few calories more burned than consumed.
Note Mark C, after reaching 190 in December, began dieting and is now hovering around 170. His successful program has him counting calories burned and calories consumed each day and he is careful to always end the day with more calories burned. Appears to be working well since his clothing hangs on him like a burlap sack now. The forecast for this week shows a warming trend. I'll have a good route planned for this Saturday. I got out for a good ride on Sunday but surprisingly, did not see other cyclists.
In the image below, although hard to pick them out, there are 8-10 red birds (cardinals maybe) sitting in the brush waiting for their turn at the bird feeder at Slate Run.
In the morning, with 20-20 hindsight, I made a bad decision to cancel the scheduled ride. The radar glob of blue/pink/green to the west of Canal dissipated as it approached and the morning and afternoon remained mostly sunny and relatively mild. Anyway, I caught up with the gang heading out of Slate Run Metro Park. We began out of the wetlands side and discovered 10TV was sponsoring a 2 mile and 4.5 mile hike from the other side of the park that had drawn dozens of people. At the start on our side was Steve O, Peggy, Pastor Mark & wife Beth. Donna O had started earlier on skis but we were hiking.
What a pleasant surprise to discover all the trails had been plowed. For anyone who enjoys trail running but locating a decent surface hard to find, head to Slate Run. Good heavens, I even saw patches of a strange substance that others identified for me as grass! We walked briskly and after 2.5 miles began merging with the "Commit to be Fit" people. We suspected there might be hot chocolate and/or snacks with the event so followed signs to a historic farm and found a mob of people and a plethora of snack options including cornbread with maple syrup, snicker doodle cookies, soup, hot chocolate....what a great opportunity to net a calorie gain for the day, again.
I also relearned why one must keep his/her spouse away from his/her cycling buddies. Beth Cligan entertained us with little known facts about Mark, such as his childhood nickname was "Moose" (because he was a tiny boy), Mark's middle name is Douglaus and Mark wears women's underwear under his cycling tights. At least I'm fairly certain I heard her make all those claims.
After chowing down, we headed back and I began to run while the others hiked. Ended up with 7 miles but was annoyed I had missed out on a good opportunity to ride. Speaking of which, rumor is going around that one of the area's top cyclists has purchased a new bike......
....I have sources in virtually every bike shop in the city and one of them tipped me off to the arrival of a very unusual, carbon fiber frame from an independent frame maker, Van Dessel. A $20 bill later, I had the name of the new bike's owner. I was dumbfounded to learn the identity. As if superior endurance and fitness is not enough of an advantage, now "The Boss", sometimes known as Craig Butler, has a sub 15 pound machine with SRAM components. Steve O checked out the bike soon after I did, called me and uttered the only suitable words to describe it, "Uh Oh".
Driving down to Old Man's Cave, I wondered if it would even be open with all the snow but I needn't have worried. The place was packed, likely due to the promotion of the hike/trail run event on the blog (even though I did not recognize anyone outside our group). In addition to our host, Pastor Mark, also there were Eve, Steve O, Cindy B and Randy. I had heard mixed reports about the amount of snowfall the area had received, from 6-14" but was relieved to find maybe 8" around the parking lot and quite a bit less in the gorge. What was in abundant supply were ice formations. Maybe the most I had ever seen in the many years I have visited.
After carefully navigating several treacherous spots on our way down, we were rewarded with snow packed trails everywhere that made my decision to wear trail running shoes, a good one. We made the obligatory stops at the usual prominent spots early in the trip as shown here
My lingered at many of these spots taking images. And then......
Pastor Mark decided he would slide down the face of this boulder. It looked dicey to me and a great way to break an ankle. A crowd of 10-12 gathered and while I wanted a good action shot for the blog, I was also very concerned for Mark's safety so I maintained neutrality by yelling, "Everyone will think you're a coward if you don't go".
Here, Mark decided to go and then at the last minute, appeared to think better of it and regrabbed, but then let go and plummeted to the ground. Mark survived and I missed taking the image because I wanted to watch it live.
We also got to watch Cindy B tackle a downhill just like she does when cross country skiing, on her rear-end.
Another cool ice formation. We made it to Cedar Falls and then trudged on to Ash Cave. At that point, I left the group and ran back to Old Man's Cave for 9 miles of great fun. For heaven's sake, please turn on the warm weather machine so we can start cycling. Normal day time high has reached 40 degrees but we are stuck in day time highs in the upper 20's. Note every 10 days we are gaining 20+ minutes of daylight. This hell-winter will soon be over. Lastly, we have a fan from Indonesia. Lisa Huang has checked the blog and enjoys reading about you crazy Ohioians.
A very small group of us hit Slate Run Park on Saturday. This area received rain on Friday before turning into snow and so snowfall total was around 6". Instead of cross country skiing, I trail ran while the others skied but the snow was too wet and made skiing progress difficult. The layer underneath the snow was very wet with standing water and my feet got soaked by the end of the route. Meanwhile, farther north where I live in Granville, the snow machine had been turned to high and we had 12-14". I shoveled my driveway 4 times thinking I'd rather shovel 3" 4 times then 12" once. The piles are enormous and now another 6-9" forecast for tomorrow. Our average snowfall is 19" and we are already at 30" Please, stop the madness!
On Sunday I drove to the Bio Reserve, hoping enough snowshoers had been out to pack the snow enough to run but alas, the driveway was not plowed and half way into it my car floundered in the deep snow and I was stuck. With the help of another driver and my son, we managed to shovel and push my car back out. Today I managed to get back out there and stumbled around a 2 mile loop before going on a 3 mile jog. Also took my bike to Dan at Breakaway Cycling in Delaware to take advantage of his special on a bike overhaul. Lastly, in anticipation of my upcoming training camp in California, I convinced Flyin Tuna to let me borrow her bike case but it cost me a sleeve of Callaway golf balls. Hope we can ride this weekend.