Still, I was looking forward to it big time. Winter running at the Brad means doing the Beautiful Loop, at least if you're going long. It's a great route, with a mix of woods, powerline trails, and the most brutal hills are at the end. Great training for sure.
Kate and I pulled up and a large group of Trail Monsters were already gathered in the parking lot of Bradbury Mountain. More would show up. As usual, everyone had different routes and plans in mind. Some were running. Some were snowshoeing. Some were skiing. All were out for a good time.
Ian and I set off, and kind of surprisingly, only him and I were the only two who had plans to do the full BL. Randy joined us for the first four miles but turned around and headed back. Up until that point, and for the next handful of miles, we were enjoying better than expected trail conditions. The snowmobile traffic had thus far packed things down pretty nicely.
Ian and I reached the powerlines and were chatting away about the usual... races, training plans, work and the like. Then, things got interesting...
The river at mile seven wasn't safe to cross. We could still see open water and dared not give it a try. This was to be expected though. We took the alternate route, easily spotting Mindy and Val's tracks from when they ran the BL the other day (all unbroken powder). It was through soft snow, but we reached the road and soon were back on the powerline trails. Unfortunately, the conditions here changed dramatically.
Likely because of a lack of snowmobile traffic, the trails were suddenly very soft and not packed down well. We were postholing frequently. The effort dramatically increased and the pace dropped big time. We rarely talked to save energy. Just moved forward trying to maintain a decent pace.
We decided to take a slightly longer route that took advantage of some dirt roads. This was awesome, as it went past a farm with some Scottish cows (Highland something, I believe). They had really long, shaggy hair and horns like a Texas Longhorn. They seriously looked like something out of Star Wars. Really cool.
Soon, we were back on the trails and eventually came across Xar, who was randomly writing "Love" in big letters by stomping through the snow in a mini-field. From what I know of her, it seemed quite fitting for her to do this and is just one reason why she rocks. Unfortunately, a redneck snowmobiler destroyed her work an hour later. I mused that the loser's wife probably left him for a runner.
Lunchbreak Hill approached... the final climb but also the gnarliest. My legs were already spent and I kind of dreaded it, but at the same time I knew it was fantastic hay in the barn. Onward Ian and I went, and after reaching the top of Bradbury Mountain we were treated to great views and took a short breather to take it all in.
From there, a romp and stomp downhill and we reached the parking lot, tired and stoked. That's what it's all about. Great day and a great start to the New Year.
Here are some photos I swiped from Ian. He has more, but I didn't want to bogart them all.
|At the summit and just a half mile or so to go.|
|Ian's more accurate GPS track.|
Trails with varying snow conditions, first half fast, second half slow.
Lower to upper 20s, sunny.
New Balance MT110, Yaktrax Pros, long tights, windbreaker, short sleeved shirt, beanie, gloves.