It was kind of odd parking in the RV lot, but the usual camaraderie (and Pre-BR's) quickly dispelled any disorientation felt. When the aforementioned foursome arrived, Nohandle was making ready while Buttons was rarin' as usual. Spawn soon joined the fray. Illumination was arranged for Bambi, the light-less rider, back for his second FT3 in a single month. Dogs emerged, and B decided to have a yard sale right there in the middle of the lot, dumping out the full contents of his luggage on the ground. Eventually, Spawn simply took the helm and took off across the road with the lithe Lola in tow.
Qualifier was in prime shape, with only some thin patches of crusty snow to contend with. So far, so good. Along the way, intermittent hollers served to keep the enthusiastic Lola from straying too far away. Booker kept an admirable clip, pausing suddenly to inspect trailside conditions, somehow staying barely clear of riders' wheels. Once we arrived at Park Creek, however, conditions took on a considerably more wintry appearance. The grade being fairly level up there, we were challenged but not defeated by the snow cover of varying length, depth, and condition. Forward progress was maintained with some squirrliness but little frustration. Spawn pointed the group of ten down Powerline, which was snow-free and fast.
One of our group failed to make it to the bottom, however. Lola, apparently out of earshot and oblivious to her owner's vocal entreaties, was back at the top somewhere. Spawn had no choice but to ascend. When Nohandle discovered that his waterbottle had ejected some ways back, he followed suit. At that point, it became clear that we all might as well head right back up to the top of Powerline.
As it turned out, this was actually a key move. Having regained dog, bottle, and altitude, the group continued along Park Creek into the increasingly long and deep snow cover. Eventually, we turned right, squeezed under a gate, and found ourselves heading into the highlight of the evening: a snowy, untracked, undulating downhill run. It was indescribable - simply the joy of mountain biking renewed. B even carved a pair of tracks into the fluffy surface of the hillside like a seasoned pro. All in all, it was more fun than anyone was expecting to have that night.
To top the night off, we headed up rock garden, which required some off the bike time hoofing it through the snowy terrain. After descending toward the lake, though, we were one rider short. This time, the dog was there, but her owner was missing! Like Spawn calling for his roaming canine, the group hollered our darndest a collective "We have your dog!" up toward the top of the hill, hoping to retrieve our wayward leader. Nobody suggested going back up the trail to fetch him, so we waited a spell. Before long, lights emerged through the trees and the pack was once again united under the leadership of our beloved alpha of the evening.
Satisfied, we rolled into the Knot lot still tingling from the feeling of snow-spray blasting our shins. Yet one final delight awaited us. As we entered the cozy taco shack, a glance down the bar revealed the presence of one of our very own: Lars! Already four tacos deep, his nonchalance revealed a sense of comfort and belonging that only a true local could embody. Lars reflected on the fact that the tacos don't taste quite the same as they do after a ride, and PC, attempting to relate to the comment, suggested that he hadn't "earned" his tacos. Snickers and jeers around the table revealed that the gaff had been interpreted as a jab, spinning off into comments about insubordination and the like.
B was the recipient of a grande glass of rye whiskey that he was officially forbidden to share. Though even B himself had his concerns about consuming such a large volume of liquor in one dosage, a blog report from the morning after proved that he'd held it admirably and, though delayed somewhat in his morning activities, was no worse for wear. All bid adieu to Lars as he stepped out into the night. We patted the lolling sidekicks, now resting on the floor, and thanked Spawn for the adept leadership.
All in all, it was a ride worthy to go down as the final 'official' FT3 of the year.
Not the final ride of 2013 though, as Newb has expressed intent to get a Christmas Eve daylight ride together. Should be a fine way to celebrate the season . . .