Trial and error, or trial by error, is a heuristic method of problem solving, repair, tuning, or obtaining knowledge. "Learning doesn't happen from failure itself but rather from analyzing the failure, making a change, and then trying again." Trial and error is not to be confused with experiment. I fail twice in two weeks and wish I could call it an experiment in getting lost.
With the poor snow conditions I figure the traffic on the snowmobile trails would be low and I was right. In 3 hours I only see 3 riders, 2 waved so they didn't hate me for riding. I printed the maps online to help navigate but they were of little use. The detail was so bad I had no idea where I was and to add to the trouble the trails had no route numbers. Basic orange diamonds indicate the intended trail but with little snow riders pack trails over 60 feet wide so following it was easy, knowing where I was - impossible.
Well before I'm hopelessly lost and pushing my bike up the ditch of a highway that I have no way to cross I come across some hills. At first I think Oh Boy! Thoughts of me riding over the hills like Santa riding a Norelco Rototrack was about to come true. This is why I wanted snowmobile trails, so I thought, but the disappointment of getting lost is about to be intensified with mood altering regret. The downhills are lumpy and cause me to get small bits of air under my wheels. They are steep yet soft forcing me to break or catch air and crash so by the time I get to the upshot I'm swamped in mush in the valley. I can gear down and sit way back in the saddle to get the rear tire to grip but the going is slow and hardly the flume ride Santa got.
Out into the open the speeds improve to about 10 mph and I'm expecting 5 hours of this. I could use a sign.
This is all private property during the summer but once the trails open for the winter its fair access from what I understand. The views are quite good.
This is almost the end of the line for me. I go up the trail and under the highway but shortly after it ends at a road that is not marked. I follow it west but the trail gets softer and softer so I have to move to a rural road of old tar. I find two snowmobile tracks and follow them hoping they will show me a way across one of the 2 highways. This goes on for about 40 minutes and end with me in a ditch on the right side of highway. I can ride only about 20% of the time or about 100 feet before I fall and start pushing.
I push, embarrassed that the drivers are looking at a cyclist with close to $3000 worth of gear pushing an over-sized bike up a ditch like homeless man pushes a shopping cart. Hope is not lost and although I'm having less fun then I'd like I find this Wildlife Viewing area.
To set the stage, this corral is maybe 75 feet square, unplowed and had no gate but the opening to the road. The only sign is pictured and says what company was generous enough to give us this treasure and to "Please stay behind the fence." This is the best and only logical view but the best part is this fence is the only fence. That is, 50 feet down the road it's wide open farmland and I can see 1000's of feet and it's plowed.
After getting lost last week I get a better look at the map and head out into the cold to make good on my original goal to cruise miles of trail but the rain and heat of last week killed the snow and turn everything to ice and I don't have studs for the fat bike. As you may have guessed, I got lost.
This is a farm field that I probably do not have permission to be on and I'm trying to get to a road. Knowing the rural roads are on 1 mile grids, I head south. You're probably questioning how I can lose a 60 foot wide trail and that I should consider bringing a GPS.
This is how it happens. The trail get narrower as more riders turn off and I can't follow all of them. Some feed riders into the trail and they are going the other direction or crossing over. Road intersections allow riders to go in all directions and the orange diamonds only mark the trail to the road if they haven't been plowed over. More snow makes the trails easy to follow but knowing what trail goes where is a problem.
I make it to a road I know and follow it back just as I would in the summer. I lost a lot of time messing around on the trail and all the ice forced me to walk up and down some hills. By the time I learn my location the sun is getting low and I need to Beat Antiques.