Catch fat bikes on the beach, wildflowers in the Piedmont, a sunny spring day along the Laurel River in the mountains.
Here’s a good reason to go to the coast this weekend: the US Open Fat Bike Championships.
First, we’re guessing a lot of you are wondering what an Open Fat Bike is. Actually, it’s just a Fat Bike, which is a mountain bike with bulbous tires, defined as wider than four inches. Typically, they’re used to bomb down mountains, rolling over whatever lies in wait. In this case, however, they will be used to race on the beach, in sand, which any cyclist will tell you is a challenge at best, a nightmare to the drive train at worst.
I’ll remember my three hikes over the weekend as such: long stretches of brown interrupted by flashes of the wrong kind of green, the less frequent wrong patches of white and one inspiring — but again, wrong — flash of yellow.
My objective on the trail this past weekend? Find signs of spring.
Ambitious, considering snow, ice and cold had dominated late winter until early last week. Then one 75 degree day, another in the 60s and — consarn it! — where’s spring? According to Carrboro naturalist Dave Cook and his “The Piedmont Almanac,” as early as the third week of February, “the first trout lilies and spring beauties might adventurously bloom” on slopes with southern exposures. By this, the second week of March, Cook writes, we should expect to see trout lilies in their “full glory.” Cook offers a caveat: your results may vary depending upon the weather.
Since second grade, I’ve avidly watched for the first signs of spring, though the cues have changed over the years. Beginning in early February I would rush home after school to rip open the sports section of The Denver Post, then an afternoon paper, and look for the first box score of spring training. Just seeing the early at-bats of Harmon Killebrew and Moose Skowran made me feel 10