Snow/night ride on the lunar eclipse.

Last Monday Dec-20-2010 Rolandisimo called me to ride. As a joke, he said we should wake up in the middle of the night and meet up at Thacher Park to do a solstice/eclipse ride. I didn’t realize he was joking, and I said “Let’s do it.” It was, after all, the only time for 400 years that the total eclipse falls on the winter solstice.

Thacher Park has several good trails. Our goal, on the park’s uphill side, was a section of trail that leaves the park and climbs steadily up to a fantastic overlook. We planned to meet at 2AM. The skies were cloudy, but the full moon was still visible through the clouds, and, as I left my house, the moon was already about 1/4 way into the earth’s shadow.

It was a balmy 15 deg. F (~ -10 C), with a stiff SW wind. After a few minor delays to bundle up, and a safety meeting, we donned our headlamps and got started just as the moon disappeared. (With clear skies one can see the eclipsed moon glowing, but with the clouds it was quite invisible.)

Pedaling onto the trail, we both realized the conditions were not ideal for riding. The few inches of snow were sitting on a bed of crunchy leaves and frost and made it impossible to maintain any rolling momentum. Letting some air out of our 24X3’s made them float a bit better, but the gradual climbs had us standing on our pedals and grunting, and the steep climbs were unrideable. So we rode where we could, and hiked with shouldered unicycles until we reached the top of the main uphill portion. Our 5.10 riding shoes provided piss-poor traction in the snow, (granted, it’s not what they’re made for), so we more scrambled than walked.

After a quick debate whether to go back down and ride more packed-down trails in the park proper, or leave the cycles and jog the last mile, we opted for the latter, joking that it’s never been less likely that anyone else would ride off on them. The overlook, which faces a rural region to the south of Albany NY, proved to be unexciting due to the eclipse darkness and very few lights to see. As an added bonus, the wind was blasting across the open peak. We spent about 3 seconds at the overlook and retreated back into the trees for some solstice hot chocolate and a few sips of eclipse applejack whiskey.

We jogged back to the unicycles, mounted up, and rode across the top of the plateau towards the big downhills, wondering if they would be rideable. We quickly realized that the downs were not only rideable, but orgasmically fun.

The wheels slid just enough that our speed was always something greater than our feet expected from their cadence. I found that controlling the descent was much like skiing and a mile-long continuous descent was one of the most entertaining bits of singletrack I’d ever cycled.

The moon was just started to emerge from the earth’s shadow as we reached our cars after a once-in-a-lifetime winter-solstice-total-lunar-eclipse-muni. Got home at about 4:30AM and slept a couple hours. Next day was groggy, but well worth it.

Pics are blurry and dark at best.





Lots of fun. Yeah!

I’ve got to start being more careful with my jokes around SteveYo!

Very Cool you guys, wish I could have joined in the reindeer games. Way to go outside the box and live the adventure.

I’ll bet that was some of the best hot chocolate on the planet. Great going guys!

Great story, epic!

It reminds me of a nighttime moonlit kiteboarding session with my buddy Karl, our attitude was ‘why not’… you only live once!