Just before winter vanished last week, the Dusty crew had the good fortune to return to Whitemud Creek for a second fat bike exploration, following up on last winter’s initial foray. This time we met up at the parking lot of Snow Valley ski hill. As most folks tramped their way uphill, we dropped down into the creek bed and headed south.
Conditions, as usual, were variable on the creek, constantly shifting from fresh powder to packed snow to bare ice to water and slush on top of ice.
We didn’t get far that day. Fat pace is slow going, but creek pace is of another order of slowness altogether. We sailed along at about 4.5 miles per hour. But that hardly matters. Creek riding is an adventure, a kind of winter walk on wheels.
This adventure includes some obstacles, as any good adventure will. The first treacherous section is the slush pit, a stretch of about 100 metres with a layer of slushy water on top of the ice. Riding over this takes some nerve. On a rational level, you know the ice is thick enough. But riding on water just feels not quite right, somehow. I ask myself, “What would Jesus-on-a-fat-bike do?” Ride on water, brother. Just keep the wheels moving.
The second challenge is the field of ice mounds—more like ice dunes, really. The crazy camber makes for some dodgy moments. My approach is to close my eyes, keep pedalling, and trust my studs.
On the way back downstream, I find 5 bucks sitting on the snow, Laurier’s blue face flapping in the breeze. I’m sure it belongs to the grumpy dude who just passed us going the opposite direction on the creek. We all said hello and the guy just looked away, perturbed, it seems, by our presence on his creek.
I pick up the fiver and tuck it in my pocket, an appropriate karmic tariff. Anyone who could be grumpy while out on a frozen creek on a sunny winter’s day deserves to lose 5 bucks.