Moving Slowly

Two busted sleds, two seriously bruised rear ends, and two very satisfied sledders.

That pretty much sums up our trip up to Cisco Grove on Saturday, where A. and I basked in the sun, ate lots of Fritos and had one of our best snow-play missions ever.

Today I feel like I was on the losing end of a SmackDown match, with bumps and aches all over. Since I passed 40, it seems like I pay a little more after spending a day riding the chutes behind the Valero gas station. Even A., who is usually pretty resilient, is moving a little slower.

We try to hit the slopes behind the station at least once a year. We, like tons of other visitors who flock there on weekends, tend to ignore the signs that tell us we’re sledding there at out own risk. It is, after all, a sort of unofficial sled spot.

On Saturday, we arrived to find some of the smaller hills near the station pretty bare, with dirt showing in many areas. It’s been sunny and warm up there in recent weeks, and they haven’t had any serious snow for awhile. But a short walk into the woods revealed a motherlode of great sledding tracks, well worn by previous visitors and lined with slick, fast ice.

We attacked the hill shortly before 10 a.m., when the surface was like concrete. A. had his Wham-O Snow Boogie, a soft sled that absorbs the bumps well. I rode our old faithful Torpedo, a red ride made of thin plastic and lacking any cushioning at all. Getting there early paid off, allowing us to have one hill to ourselves for about an hour. We rode again and again, catching what seemed like massive air on bumps built up along the course.

After a cocoa break at the station, we really ramped things up by moving to a nearby ravine that has the best vertical of any of the runs. The top was shaded by tall pines, making it incredibly icy and fast, more like an Olympic bobsled run than a mere sled trail. This is where our sleds met their demise. While other smarter folks were riding from about midway up the hill, we headed close to the top against better judgment.

I stood partway down the hill to help clear the track and issue warnings to others as A. came whizzing down the hill. He hit bumps at full speed, launching him and his sled into the air. The little guy hung on well, whooping it up along the way. I tried it myself, and it felt like I jarred a couple fillings loose in the process.

After a few runs, A. had broken a handle off his sled, and I had snapped the Torpedo in half, turning one big sled into two smaller ones that we attempted to use through the day.

Luckily, the snow softened up as the sun rose higher in the sky. A. and I soon retired to smaller hills, resting more between runs. We met the mountain, and as usual, the mountain won.

Now that we’re back home, we’re resting our sore selves and reliving our rides. Of course, the amount of air we caught increases with each retelling of the tale.

We’re now also in the market for some new sleds. We need models that can take extreme punishment. I’m also thinking about adding some extra padding to my snow pants. We’ll need both for next time.

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