Steve Meurett/For Wisconsinoutdoorfun.com
April 5 is not a date one is really supposed to be still riding in snow.
But as recent memory recalls, last year was even more unusual. The first turkey season found me slogging thru six inches of snow in search of the big 'V' of a tom turkey. Few were found.
But this year? Come on, really? There were so many days of record minus 30-degree temperatures and deep snow that seemed to never end (not that I mind that!), but it is April. Just to give us all one last kick in the pants, Mother Nature tossed another wintery mess our way last week. Rain, sleet, driving snow and wind-not exactly what us cyclists want to see.
But for some of us, having a fatbike in the stable, the snow affords us one final 'last ride.'
With morning temps on this day hovering between 10 and 15, I could be assured the nearby forest lanes and snowmobile trails would be frozen down. A 3-inch deep fresh blanket of snow covered everything and was unbroken save for a very occasional deer, coyote and ermine track.
As most rides start out, I had a plan in mind of where my venture would take me. But as the dead end road turned into a skidder trail, the effort required to pedal forward was a bit much, nixing my undertaking. Option B was a shorter route, just as much work, but I figured I could slog through and make it back alive.
Fatbikes are perfect for snow riding, but several inches is tough. My nearly walking pace spinning the granny gear was humbling, but also allowed me to take everything in.
Rain had preceded the snow, so the forest was coated in jewel-like crystals. Every branch glaze coated with mini icicles and frost clinging to smaller brush. There is a certain joy in laying down the first tracks in snow, evidence of one exploring in uncharted territory-kinda. A few critters beat me to it for it is their home, anxious to find a few nuggets of food here and there I suppose and for the steeping sun to melt it all away. I'd been tired of snow too, but for now, it provided a clean sparkling surface to ride on.
A county park was ahead and relief expected as I could jump into truck tracks, making the pedaling effort insanely easy. Turning onto a town road of packed snow and ice (this time of year, thoughts of plowing are long gone) the big tires sang a whirring knobbie song and a tail wind made me forget the earlier struggles. By afternoon, with the bike tucked away, everything changed. The high sun quickly deleted most of the new snow cover and softened all surfaces, turning them into sloppy mush. Any thoughts of riding again soon would have to wait, making me perhaps more thankful for getting out the door early. I have no doubt April will fool us with a few more snowflakes and raw temps, and if so, the fatbike will roll out again to happily greet it.
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Steve Meurett lives, works and plays in West Central Wisconsin and spends about every free moment outdoors where his passions lie. His outdoor interests take him on and off trail, pursuing mountain biking and skinny skiing, photography and hunting, while keeping an eye on wild mushrooms and the next fruit for craft wine. Steve is the Trail Director at The Levis Mound Trail System and member of the Clark County Trails Advisory Committee. He resides, teaches and is a photographer in Neillsville. Steve can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.