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Archive for March, 2012

Calling it Done

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

The vernal equinox is still a week in the future but from the weather you think its a week in the past. Temps in the mid 60, sun and almost no snow left at the house. The dirt roads contain axle deep ruts filled with sloppy mud running parallel to the direction of travel. Mud season reminds me why I own four wheel drive vehicles. Definitely not for snow travel. The only thing keeping me tied to winter is the lack of crocus by the depleted woodpile.

The grooming season wasn’t a complete bust. After the roller incident, temps remained below freezing for three days! The sled was full of gas and oil so I groomed up the field across the street into 250 meters of fast trail. The family had a blast chasing each other around, made up a few relay races and it felt like mid winter fun. Sad to admit how tired I was that evening and day after from skiing for a bit over an hour on flat terrain.

With 1/2 tank of fuel still in the sled I debated siphoning it out. The decision was easy, $8.00 worth of gas was not worth the mouthful I’d spit out and horrid after taste. Might as well burn it up pulling the Tidd and risk dragging it through the woods to access the snow filled open areas a kilometer away. Well worth the risk. The snow packed with the busted roller was firm with a slight glaze which the Tidd pulverized into super fast roller bearings made of chopped ice. Stiff muscles and no ski fitness be damned. A neighbor and I skied the bejeezus out of the trails. Upon returning home it required great effort to lift my arms to pluck a drinking glass out of the cabinet. By the next morning, the sun had melted the snow. At the house trails, the 2011-2012 ski season was a bust. The last day of grooming and skiing were fantastic and it’s always good to end things on a high note so the decision was made to put everything away.

Tucked in for the summer hibernation.

I took advantage of the fast disappearing snow to put the sled away for the summer. The dismembered roller is in a good spot for off season repair. The rest of the grooming tools are piled into the barn awaiting the next season’s snowfall.

A bit anthropamorphic but it does appear distraught without a job.

With all of my whining this season it’d be difficult to believe we received 30″ of snow. A bit below a normal winter but still enough to ski and groom. What we also received was a lot of warm weather and rain which melted almost every flake soon after it found the trails. Each snow event was re-starting to lay down a base. We spent winter in perpetual early December.

Including the pre-Thanksgiving groom and ski, a total of 9 gallons of gasoline was purchased at a cost of $37.00. 4 hours was spent grooming and 8 hours fifteen minutes spent skiing. I never waxed my skis so the kit is right full for next season.

In short, I am very much looking forward to next ski season. The off season plans for the trails are leveling a few spots and maybe adding a few hundred meters. There is also that pesky roller to rebuild. I’ll post some of the highlight.

For those of you with enough snow to ski, enjoy it. If you’re a fellow CG, please take a pass for me.

Thank you all very much for reading and writing comments. Your participation helped me laugh at a very strange winter.

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Oops – The Result of Desperation

Monday, March 5th, 2012

The highly anticipated snowstorm left us with almost 6″ of wet snow on top of bare ground and ice. In the wood, 3″ made it to the trails. I hooked up the virgin roller to run it through the fields across the street hoping to see how it works. The results were better than I had hoped for. Easy to pull and wide which will hopefully reduce the number of passes needed to prepare the trails. This pass reintroduced me to the crappy steering of wet snow over bare ground. After a pass the snow sticks and sets making the steering on subsequent passes still poor but significantly better. The snow also shears away from the ground under the tracks so the ass end of the sled tends to wander a bit going uphill or across a pitch.

Overnight temps dipped into the low 20s which dried and firmed the snowpack. In the morning, the leveling drag was pulled over the rolled areas leaving a very nice skatable 200 meter loop. The forecast called for rain and warm temps and I was feeling a bit desperate to take a pass on the new trails before the snow melts. The new trails have a few narrow sections (openings in stone walls, trees, the bridge deck) and I was curious how the roller fit through or didn’t. The snow was deep enough to put a good lubricating layer on top of rocks and reduce the friction of snowmobile skis in addition to easing the transitions up onto and off the variety of lumps and bumps.

The roller frame is made of wood since it is cheap, available, already made for last season’s barrel, and easily altered. The flaws in the roller are flats at the end to catch on whatever I pass too close and no complete loop around the roller which drastically reduces the stiffness and bumpability. The axle is held in with hitch pins and stick proud of the side rails. Aware of these flaws I decided to go anyway and just be careful. A few times I did stop the sled, unhook the roller and walk it through the tight spots.

700 meters into the new trails at an off-camber slightly uphill left hand turn with the bars at the stop and under light power the sled goes straight, the back jags right. I feel a light bump and hear a loud crack. The flat of the roller frame grabbed a tree and broke. Normally a scenario such as this might send me into a profanity laced diatribe. Not this time. I just laughed at my impetuousness and luck of this happening at the end of a miserable season. I keep a bungee on the sled for some reason and it worked great to patch things up enough to pull the roller out of the woods.

remodeling the roller

Good enough to keep going

Approaching the turn to head back to the house or across the bridge and the bulk of the trails I chose to head across the bridge and finish grooming with the roller. There were still a few places to gauge and the thing still moved so why not.

Notice the sled tracks on the bridge. Yeah!

7 km. later with 1 to go the right side of the roller clipped a tree dislodging the hitch pin. The axle popped free and the roller experienced catastrophic and terminal failure. More laughing and I removed whatever pieces might fall off on the road and headed home for a cup of tea and something to eat. Later that day I loaded the debris into my truck and stored it in the barn for reconstruction this summer.

At least the bungee held during this train wreck.

With rolled trails the only thing left to do was ski. Aside from crust skiing at the airport my beater skis hadn’t been used on the house trails all season. They have also never been waxed and the whitish bases should have miserable glide on the wet snow. Good thing too since there is still only enough snow in the woods to hurt myself on the downhill sections.

Two pass, twelve foot trails give me something to look forward too next season.

Even with the busted roller the day was a smashing success. The trails ski very well, the bridge held the equipment and I am now forced to buy some steel and weld up a proper roller frame.

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