Sunday, December 15, 2013

50-Miles on the Fatback

I did a little 50+ mile ride earlier this week. The snow conditions were superb and snomobiles had layed down some nice tracks making my riding much easier.

We're in a warming trend right now and I plan on finding out just bad the ice will be tomorrow. I'm starting to think I need a set of tires with studs, but I have no faith in the 45NRTH tires for where I ride. Maybe some GripStuds will make my life easier on the ice.

Anyone have experience with the GripStuds? I would like to know how well they work before I make the investment.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Storm Chasing - In Search of More Snow

Yesterday a nice looking "snow" cloud seemed to be dumping some white stuff in my local backyard playground. So I wasted no time chasing this storm to the foot of the mountain in search of fresh snow.

I was not dissappointed...I arrived in the middle of a nice solid dump. I had my "old" Fatback with me since it seemed to need some exercise and it was ready to go. This bike is one I have for sale and I only call it my "old" Fatback since it was recently replaced by a titanium model. This Fatback was new earlier this year (like March). I would not mind keeping it, but I really do not need a 2nd fatbike at this time. I also rode it today just to justify in my mind that the titanium Fatback was better riding (I still feel guilty selling this one since it's so new). This Fatback rides perfect and is a nice bike.

I also took this opportunity to try out another new product, an insulated Kleen Kanteen. This is not something for weight weenies since it is not a light product. But it has a specific purpose for me and that is to provided me with some hot beverages on the snow bike. I've had plenty of issues with insulated water bottles freezing on my rides. On this ride I put some warm tap water in 2 of these for my 1st test. The result was that I had warm water from start to finish on my ride. Today I rode again and put hot tea in one bottle which was still burning hot after 4-hours in the cold. So these things work and work well! Hmmm...maybe I can have some sweet iced tea next summer.

Today the snow was quite a bit deeper and the titanium Fatback was ready to go with my best traction tires, Surly Bud up front and a Surly Nate in the rear. On my Fatback 70mm rims the Bud measures 4.5 inches and the Nate is 4-inches. This is the best combo I have found for deep snow conditions. This tire combo actually works fine in any snow conditions, but it seems a litte slower on groomed surfaces (something I rarely ever get to ride on).

Today the snow was very soft and plenty deep, plus it was windy and still snowing some. I rode most if it without any difficulty. But some of the steep hills were easier to walk than to ride. In my mind, walking your bike now and then is just part of riding a fatbike in the backcountry. I resisted the hike-a-bike when I first started fatbiking due to my stubborn mindset, but now I rather enjoy getting off and walking some. Snomobiles will be through here soon and I look forward to their arrival since on their tracks I can go as far as I want without getting too tired. I put in 20-miles today and I'm exausted.

The mighty Titan (my titanium Fatback) today put to rest any guilt or buyer remorse I may have been feeling. I love riding that's a keeper. It "rides" better for me, it "feels" faster, I "feel" I can go farther on it in the deep snow and it "makes" me smile more...true or not does not matter since there is something about this bike that elevates everthing about my rides.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Fat Tire Testing

I got in 3-days of riding the Fatback Titan in my local backyard (Blue Mtns) this past week. Each day I was presented with differing weather and snow conditions so every ride turned into a tire analyzing experiment. Oh yeah! My super analytical mind has been wondering again (actually it never stops) so the "real-life" analysis lab has come to life once again. 

On the first ride I was testing some new Fatback Sterling tires that I received recently. On the first day using these tires the snow was rather deep and almost wet which would challenge any bike tire. I had a very fun day of "testing" but realized quickly that the Sterling was not an optimal front tire in these conditions. It simply did not have enough volume to allow the tire to float well in this type of snow. Evidently the Sterling width is less than Fatback spec'd with Vee Rubber (who manufactures the tire) and Fatback is working on a solution as I understand from their blog. Overall the Sterling is 3.8-inches on my rims, which wider than the 45NRTH Husker Du tires, so I'm not dissatisfied, but I would like a tire that is 4.2-inches as advertised. I will patiently wait to see what Fatback does to correct this (evidently their proto types were 4.25 inches on rims similar to mine). Anyway, I was able to test the traction on the front as well in both directions and found the tread pattern seemed better in the opposite to their directional arrow on the front. As a rear tire the traction was quite good, second only to the Surly Nate in my small arsenal of tires (Surly Larry, 45NRTH Husker Du, and Surly Nate). 

The 2nd day the snow was much wetter and temps warmer plus it was raining, so just imagine really wet snow. Some people would think this would be pure misery to ride in, but I had a blast! Thinking that I would need more even float and traction in these conditions, I put on a Surly Bud up front and Surly Nate on the rear. A huge improvement was noted with floatation (the Bud is 4.5 inches wide whereas the Sterling nearly an inch less width). Also I felt I had better rear traction with this setup (the Nate is hailed as the best rear tire for traction by many more people out there than me). I still had issues sinking through the crust and the snow, however I really do not think any tire combo would have done much better in a steady rain making wet-soggy snow that was hard to pedal through - fun right?!  (old photo showing this tire combo)

The final day I put on the 45NRTH Husker Du tires front and rear. The weather had cooled after the rain making a nice crust of the previous day's rain-on-snow event. I was popping through the crust now and then, but for the most part it was easy riding on top of the snow. There were also huge ice patches in which only a studded snow tire would have conquered without slipping. I learned that the Husker Du was really not a good rear traction tire even in these ideal conditions. Some people would dispute this with me, but climbing a 1000-feet in the first 2-miles of my ride tells me exactly how good or bad the traction is for any tire. I'm not at all impressed with the 45NRTH tire in the rear. Up front it is a great tire on firm snow. I've used this tire several times in the past in various snow conditions and had similar results. Considering their low volume and lack of traction compared to the Sterlings and Surly combo, I am considering selling the 45NRTH tires. (another old photo - by-the-way, this bike is for sale)

One thing is certain - Riding a fatbike on groomed or well packed trails is fast and easy, but riding a fatbike thorough deep snow is one heck of a workout and incredible interval training. Wet deep snow is real training (not that I'm training) in both the realms of physical and mental toughness. All I can say is that if fatbike season came before cyclocross season, I'd be ready for some serious racing.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

The Mission of Obsession - In Search of Snow

The weather this week has been looking up in my opinion. Most people I know would not agree with my idea of good weather...snow and cold, which I find is best for my soul. So this past week the conditions locally have been right for a good dump of the white stuff and I've been plain giddy searching for it. I've had my binoculars out numerous times daily scanning the local mountain tops for a hint of new snow. I've even been out on a few scouting missions on the Fatback, but even though conditions were ideal for snow I could find nothing more than a few small patches.

I'm not one to give up easily so my search for snow became a mission of obsession. Then it snowed a small amount at my house overnight, so I was instantly out on my Fatback (in my PJ's no less) running my very excited dogs in the snowy pastures behind my house. Whoop Whoop!

Oh, but a little snow here meant much more snow up in the mountains...hmmm. I had to make a trip to Grangeville, ID to winterize my house there so the mighty Fatback Titan came along since there was bound to be more snow there being at a higher elevation and typically a zone of higher moisture than here. I was not search for snow was over. After taking care of the house, I headed up Mt Idaho a few miles away...

I can not believe how much fun I have riding my Fatback in snow. I've tried to convince other people that this is the ultimate riding experience, yet I ride alone around here. I don't care since I also love the solitude of riding's very spiritual for me to be out alone in a quiet, beautiful environment, to decompress life stress, think without distractions, and pray without some government entity or anti-Christian telling me I can not.

The views from Mount Idaho were spectacular during a blustery day mixed with snow and sunshine. I rode up a trail climbing 2000-feet before I had to turn around due to the setting sun. I can not tell you how good I feel after riding the snow...I no longer yearn for cyclocross racing, my blues were cured this day and I can not wait to ride the snow again.


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Titan #3 - The Titan War Saga Continues

Another mighty Titan has materialized on my doorstep. As usual I am innocent and of course I deny any knowledge of how it got here, but I will admit that my association with such a fine bike will be strictly abusive to both me and the bike.

My initial 100-mile ride impression on gravel roads thus far has been nearly perfect (that means I have no real complaints and expect to have much more fun). Just let me say that I have put off racing this year for several reason that don't really include anything like I'm totally out of shape for racing cyclocross, the cost is rather high, and lack of confidence at this time. However this bike seems to have reversed those dark feelings of gloom and doom. I kind of want to train and race everytime I look at and ride this bike...hmmm!!!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Anti-Carbon Wars - Revenge of the Titans!

Hmmm...I'm almost at a loss of words on this one. It seems that my mouth is still gaping open in disbelief regarding the ride quality and beauty of my new Fatback titanium ultra-cool, super-fatty.

I've played on, owned, and ridden many bikes made from aluminum, steel, carbon, and a few titanium frames, but never have I had such an incredible ride as the frames built by Lynskey (the actual builder of the Fatback titanium frame). The Lynskey titanium frames rival carbon in my opinion (which may be of little value to you, but is everything to my meticulous-obsessive-compulsive-brain). I love carbon for its stiffness and ride quality, but I loathe it for being environmentally unfriendly, its lack of durability (aka throw-away junk), spontaneous and unpredictable structural failures, and many other reasons in which I'm sure many may not agree with. Essentially carbon bikes make me feel guilty. I'm also a huge fan of USA made bikes and non-China made parts. This bike is made in Tennessee, USA!

However, until riding a Lynskey titanium frame I was not much of a titanium bike fan either since I had several experiences with a wet-noodle like ride.  Well my opinion has changed after riding this bike and my Lynskey Pro29SL.

The titanium Fatback is stiff, yet rides ultra smooth...a totally amazing combination. People will want to know how I can tell this on those fat, cushy tires...believe me I can feel a huge difference between the aluminum and titanium frames on the super fatty tires. I will be testing this frame in every possible way in the coming months and long into the future God willing.

Sunday, October 06, 2013


It seems that once again a new bike frame has shown up at my back door in an nicely packed brown box.

I've successfully sold several cyclocross bikes, actually all my cross bikes have been sold which is so not me, as well as a few "spare" mountain bikes and a pile of bike parts. I still have more bike parts to sell it seems, but my "new vision" that prompted me sell nearly everything is working well. The untold story is that there is a deeper level in my plans. Yes, it is so unlike me to sell all my bikes and everyone knows how weak I am in regards to new bikes.

My plan is playing out perfectly...It all started with a new Lynskey Pro29 SL titanium frame showing up (truly an amazing ride) that I've set up as a single speed (yes, it can be set up geared - I love versatility in a bike frame).

I can not say enough about how much I like the way this bike rides and handles. I'm beyond satisfied that I've got the best product for me in this frame and build. I'm even starting to think about racing MTB endurance races again - OH YEAH, the bike is that good!

Getting back to the story at hand...I seem to have a new titanium Fatback frame that needs some testing. I've been eyeing this frame for over a year now, but really could "make" myself buy it. Well with all my bike and part sales I seem to have enough "bike money" to not feel bad about buying the ti frame. I love the Fatback geometry in fatbike frames so I'm confident that this one (coicidentally a Lynskey built titanium frame) will be an incredible bike when finished. The build will be revealed in the near future...something like this takes patience (which I have not) and thought (which I have an overabundance).

Will there be more of this titanium non-sense additiction in the future? Hmmm...I "need" a cyclocross frame...well not really since I have no plans to race cyclocross this year...

In the mean time I will be selling another bike beloved Forest Green Fatback 16" frame (aka Mr Gump and Bubba Gump) is up for sale. I don't need 3-Fatbacks (shamefully I now have three) so I'm looking to find Mr Gump a new home (sniff).

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Fat Adventures Begin Again!

There has been a classic fall cooling trend here around the inland northwest, which has peaked my motivation meter to ride a bike again. Since it's been kind of rainy out there's not much in my mind that can be completed outside beyond bike riding...the chores around home can eternally wait for another day and the crisp morning temperatures have me itching to get the Fatbacks out for more Fat it began.

There is something to be said about riding in a misty on-off rain with temps in the 40's...most people would not find comfort or pleasure in this, but I'm different. The forest is once a again breathing a sight of relief from the season of fire potential. The roads and trails are dust free and the forest floor is no longer a volatile, crispy fire tender waiting for some idiot to light it up. The forest feels happy, the trees are waving, rain is gently pattering all around, everything is quiet except for the sound of a breeze through the pines.

I spent a few days climbing around the mountains in my back yard, never seeing another being, enjoying the peace and soul reviving solitude all around me. Yes, this is my mental therapy.

I put some serious miles on the Fatback which also entailed many thousands of feet of climbing and descending. I did not even notice that I am out of shape, the bike just kept going forward.

Monday, September 02, 2013


Yep that's the way my summer riding season has been - Pathetic! It's the end of summer and the only way I know is that the mountain flora is rather dead...

I just feel that I lost the entire summer to work at "work" and work on our place. I love where I live, but loathe the work it has taken to bring this place up to "my standards" which is, by my own fault, rather lofty in the perfectionism realm. There is actually a lot of factors involved here that have kept my cycling to once or twice a week, if that.

I've become so pathetic about my cycling that the last time someone asked me how many bikes I owned that I could not remember completely until I was on my way home some time later - Pathetic!

I then read an article on vanity which, in combination with the aforementioned issues of memory loss regarding my bikes and lack of riding, made me a tad bit disgruntled (well actually I was in a raging disgruntled state to say the least). So in my highly disgruntled state I started selling off all my bikes and bike related parts (which it seems I have accumulated so much that I did not even know half of what I had in my shop)...Cyclocross bikes down to one and the last one is for sale, mountain bikes down to one, everything else is still on the chopping block including my Volagi, the only thing spared were the Fatbacks. You could say that I'm getting back down to the basics.

People who found out what I was doing thought I was insane. Personally I'm starting to feel better about having less to maintain and deal with or to decide what to ride for the day. I'm not totally off my rocker since I do have a plan that involves simplifying my bike life and it has already been set into action...

Unfortunately I'm in no shape for cyclocross this year and I'm not happy about missing these ultra fun competitions, but I feel that I would be wasting money and time in a futile effort to compete once again. I'm happy about just riding up in my "back yard" mountain park once or twice a week exploring new areas and finding new loops to ride. I have my own network of trails and roads to ride up keeps me sane.

I also hinted in my last post (yes, it was long ago) that there were changes in the wind for me and those changes are chugging right along at a snail's pace. The changes involve relocating to a new area for new adventures in exploration of the local mountainous backwoods...hopefully better schools for my kids, smaller town living, SNOW, green grass all summer, Mount Idaho in the back yard...hmmm.

If everything goes right, this coming year I will be moving to Idaho. I was born there so I guess my destiny is to die there...but then again one never really knows their end destiny. Man that Lynskey is a sweet riding bike...WHOOOHOOO!!!!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Huckleberry Riding

The 100+ degree temps have me wishing for something white, cold, and fluffy. Yep, I'd take snow any day over the century mark temps. So in thought coolness, I started riding my Fatback again.

Something changed when I started riding those big monster tires, I felt cooler. And once again I had a goofy grin that can only come from riding monster tires over fallen trees, on cow trails (which is my only buff singletrack around), and on dirt in general. I love my fat bikes even if they are a little slower at climbing hills.

Along the way I found some of nature's finest fruits, which made me come to a screeching halt and promptly gorged on....

Huckleberries are ripe and very sweet this year. I'll be back out later this week to pick a winter's supply for my waffles, pancakes, muffins. Yum!

There are some winds of change blowing around here...I'll know more by the end of August, so until then I'm just waiting for some snow!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Summer Fun...

Hmmm...been busy with nearly every thing lately...

Ringing Rocks outside of Pipestone, MT (a must go to place - it's awesome):

Exploring in the Subaru:

Explorin' too far into the woods:

Gold panning with the kids and in-laws (outlaws):

Firewood cutting for the upcoming winter's warmth:

And enjoying nature while riding my bikes when ever I can:

I ride my bikes as much as possible, but not nearly as much as I'd like since I now have other priorities (they're called kids). I'm not getting fat, but I have lost much of my bike endurance and power, so now is the time for nearly anyone to kick my butt on a bike (and I will not even care). I'm sure I will gain back my fitness, however I am not really worried about it too much since I have so much fun just exploring and riding for fun at this time (racing is on the back burner for now).

I hope your summer is as good as mine!