Monday, December 31, 2012

A Fat Year's End

Well it's gone - another year of fun on the bike. Due to all my "new home" projects that needed to be done this past year the quantity of riding time was hugely less (love putting terms like that together). I suffered plenty of mental anguish dreaming of bike riding while working on those projects, but the work needed to be done and such is the price you pay for moving into a new place.

I love where I live...I have 360-degree views, lots of my favorite back-road rides at my door step, the forest is only 10-miles away (my favorite place to be) and best of all is the snow. I love snow and can not believe I spent so many years in that dreary snowless valley. After living up here last winter, I rediscovered that love of snow and winter activities which set in motion my fatbike obsession.

Actually the discovery of snow biking escalated my obsessive-compulsive need to buy-and-ride-every-bike-possible. It's a shameless disease, I try to control it, but I admit I am weak when it comes to new bikes and parts to test in my evil fun bike laboratory.

The first fatbike was a 9:Zero:7 (appropriately named the Baconator, due to it's amazing fatness that I'd never seen before). Then, mysteriously, a forest green Fatback showed up (aka Mr Gump)...yeah, I'm weird for naming my bikes, but I've found that I tend to keep them longer when I name them - one of my self-treatments for my obsession. I've been swapping back and forth between the two trying to find a weakness so that I can sell one, however I've discovered nothing except each frame has it's own strengths in the snow. Now I'm starting to think that my boy may inherit (steal) one before long.

Before fatbikes I rode to the snow, then turned around and went home simply because I couldn't ride far in the snow. With fatbikes I'm riding over huge snowdrift rollers that are stupidly deep, plus fatbike riding on the snow has simply reignited my biking passion in a big way. Back country riding and exploring in winter on a bike is unbelievable and I can not understand why it took me so long to discover it...sometimes we need to take the blinders off and be a bit more open minded I guess. My interest grew only after I moved up a few thousand feet higher in elevation, where winter's beauty can not only be seen, but lived.

2012 was a great year, it was my 50th year on this earth, my 22nd year of marriage to the best gal ever and my best friend ever, a year of becoming a parent again with the adoption of my daughter, a year of rediscovery that snow is a gift that brings out the childish nature in me, and my 1st year of riding fatbikes. WhooHooo!!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Comparing Fatness

This past week I was both elated that more snow had arrived and I was singing the blues because it was sooooooo hard to pedal through all that wonderful white fluffy stuff. You have to realize though that my version of the blues involves a huge, continuous smile. I love deep snow, but after this week I am praying for snowmobiles to pack it down some. Hmmmm, knee deep here...

I did a little tire experimentation this week...I was not so happy with the so called "velcro" grip of the Surly Bud tire up front so I had to prove it was worthy. I put on my Surly Larry tires (aka no-traction-in-soft-snow) and flailed around having a great time improving my bike handling skills. Then I put back on the Surly Bud up front (aka serious fatness with squirrel eating knobs) and my Surly Nate out back (aka kung-fu grip).  Both the Fatback (Mr Gump) and the 9:Zero:7 (the Baconator)were used in this little tire's so sad that I had to ride so much to do this.

Was there any comparison? If there was it was laughable to say the least. I think the Larry tires are far superior considering speed aspects on packed roads, but are fairly useless in deep snow for forward momentum and steering control.  The Bud and Nate combo proved that, although not perfect, were far superior in floating through deeper snow as well as in steering and forward propulsion. I went miles (yes miles) further in the deep snow with what seemed to be less effort with Bud/Nate than than Larry/Larry. However the Bud/Nate combo were much slower on hard packed snow...must take a little more POWer to motivate those big lugs over the hardpack.

The velcro grip of the Bud still does not exist in my opinion since it slides around a lot more than I would expect with such a deep lugged monster tire. No worry though since it is also improving my bike handling skills.

Really though, who cares about all this technical crap? The underlying moral here is that I'm having too much fun riding fat bikes. But all this play did result in the Bud/Nate combo being Mr Bacon approved for superior fatness in loose, deep snow!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Hard to Beat (It's all about the Fatness)

There are those days that just can not be beat...Those days where you're all alone in the backcountry overlooking unbelievably awesome views that you can not possibly share with anyone ever because a photo will never show what you saw and how you felt and no words can possibly describe the immense beauty you saw.

This past week I've been blessed some incredible events and views that were only possible by riding a fatbike into the snowy world beyond where a normal bike could possibly get me. I've experienced many jaw dropping views, I watched a wolf searching the mountain side for a few rodent morsels under the snow, I listened to my heart pound as I climbed quitely up a forest road of deep snow on a bike with super fat tires, I could hear no sound but the pound elk hooves at the herd I was in the middle ran past on their way to a new feeding area....yep it's hard to beat any of these.

It's too bad I am slow to get a camera out to document most of these times, but then again I've learned that wasting time trying to get a phote takes everything away from the moment I'm experiencing. I've learned to just live these moments and take pictures at times much less breath taking.

I love my fatbike! I love winter riding more than ever! It's now my way of getting fat during the winter!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Fat, Fatter, Fattest...

Fat, Fatter, and Fattest - The Surly Bud 4.8 super fattie tire is stupidly fat and definitly among the fattest bike tires available, over an inch fatter than the Surly Larry 3.8 tires I've been running on the Baconator. When I first saw the Bud I instantly knew that I must test this yesterday!

For some strange coicidence my backyard playground has had copious amounts of rather heavy snow while I was working this past weekend. Concidentally I just so happened to have completed the Mr Gump build (a forest green Fatback - run Forest run!). Coicidentally I'm on days off. Coicidentally a Surly Bud showed up at my house. Coicidentally it got mounted up on the front of my Fatback build...there's just too much coicidence here.

There's nothing like testing new on new on new...I'm also testing out some flat pedals on the Fatback. I've never liked flat pedals, but in snow they make sense since cleats often pack up with snow and warm cycling shoes are a real paradox and there's plenty of on/off bike and some hiking with snow bike riding and...So I'm testing some 45NRTH flat pedals and riding in warms winter boots with gaitors.

After riding flat pedals yesterday and clipless today I must say that I'm done with clipless and cleat on the snow bikes. Maybe in a snow bike race clipless would be something I'd consider, but then again I doubt it. The experience of my cleats icing up and packing in snow just soured me on further use on the snow bike. So flat pedals it is.

I've discovered plenty of things riding in heavy snow on a fat bike: 1) Like single speed, momentum uphill and in technical stuff is everything - loose it and it's time to walk. 2) Floatation is very important, which is related to tire width and air pressure. 3) Run the lowest tire pressure possible for better traction and flotation - there it a fine line between optimal tire pressure and steering control (which flounders with too low of a pressure). 4) It's an unbelievably awesome workout. 5) If you're lacking in bike handling skill then you will learn or else you either walk more or crash more.

I'm sure I have plenty more to learn, but so far I totally love where I can go in the snow. It's openned a whole new world to me and expanded my adventure to another dimension that was not possible without the fat snowbike tires. 

Can you say Lobo?