Monday, July 25, 2011

Hope You Like Green!

Like A Jungle, Only In Iowa
With the break in the nasty heatwave we had last week, a new weather pattern has set up. Nasty thunderstorms come in, dumping copious amounts of rain in short order. Usually this happens early in the day. Then, the sun comes out, turns the rain sitting on the ground into vapor, and we get a humid, wet, clammy, hot day.

Sound like a tropical rain forest? It feels like it, sans the cackling animals, large venomous snakes, and undiscovered cures for cancer.

We do have mosquitoes though. That we have in spades. We also have a lot of standing water and mud. So, with the return of the Mukluk and the main mountain biking spots all too wet to ride in the vicinity, I decided to do the "swamp bike thing". Off to the Green Belt.

Now, I get chastised from time to time for even dreaming about riding in the mud. One thing I need to make perfectly clear right now: These trails are not negatively affected by riding while they are muddy. The Green Belt follows the unruly, and aptly named, Black Hawk Creek, which churns the black earth and sand together at its whim and fancy. It changes course, chews away embankments, and dumps drifts of the finest sand whenever and wherever it wants to. A biker or two doesn't do anything compared to what the Black Hawk Creek can do all on its own. Multiple times per year, I might add.

That said, maybe you shouldn't ride on your wet trails.  I'm betting you shouldn't, just like we don't on most of our single track. However; the Green Belt is not one of those places. And I was on a fat bike to top it off. Less impact with the floaty tires.

Let The Sun Shine In
Well, I've been back in here with 26 inch mountain bikes, 29 inch mountain bikes, and I'll tell ya. This fat bike is the vehicle for mud around here. It still sticks to the tires, but in a much thinner coating, and clears off well. Wet mud? Nuthin' doing. It floats right over it.

The big, long stretches of 12 inch deep water on the trail was no problem either. I only got sideways crossing a water drenched ravine that was hub deep. Yep. Got wet feet there. Hard to see "the line" through when it is submerged by murky water!

Yeah, a lesser mountain bike would have done okay, but wouldn't have been better, and I would have gotten stuck more times, causing more ruts, and what not. (Again, not that it would matter after the next flood, which will come after the next heavy rain.) Sand dunes were easy-peasy. I would have dug right in with a "regular mountain bike".

And I suppose some of you were wondering about how the hub is doing? Well........not so good. It snaps, pops, and does that after almost every coast, or change in pedal pressure. Sometimes you can ride several minutes with no untoward noises. Then....pop! Snap! I thought I was going batty. I took off the old chain, checked the (nearly) new cassette, the (nearly) new chain rings, and the (nearly) new bottom bracket. All had less than 50-60 miles on them. (Most with Ben's wheel) I replaced the chain anyway, since I had heard of issues with SRAM chains on snow bikes. I put a Wipperman Connex chain on it. No change. Still makes noise. Bummer. It's the hub, again. This time I'll just run it into the ground, cut it out of the wheel, and replace it.

It's destined to become an expensive paperweight.

But back to all of that green stuff! It was a fun ride. Can't wait to do that again soon. I'll tell ya one thing- These fat bikes really give you a work out!


Unknown said...


sorry to hear of the continued saga with that wheel

MG said...

Wow... Sorry x2.

jkeiffer said...

That really sucks. Sorry x3

S Sprague said...

Too bad! Phil's off my list!

On a positive not, reading your post makes me want a fat bike! Never thought I'd want or need one (no snow here in the Sacramento Valley), but knowing that if floats on muddy trails, that's a different story. Great, another bike to think about! ;-) Keep up the writing and riding!

Scott said...

I'm intrigued with these "fatbikes" as well. I found an old review of yours. It was your usual informative work. I was wondering if you could expound? Are they suited for all around use? Are they tanks? Why are they a workout?

Guitar Ted said...

@Herringbone: Fat bikes can be your main rig. I know of guys that live in deserts, Florida, the U.K., and more that use fat bikes as their "daily drivers"

I think it takes a different attitude/philosophy on off road cycling to get into them though. Slower going, a bit more ponderous handling, but very capable, and in some instances, the only thing that will allow you to pedal versus walking. Fat bikes are just on another plane when it comes to how to approach your riding off road.

Yes; these bikes are heavier, but not by a lot. Certainly, a cheaper Pugsley build can go over 40lbs very easily, but a modest build on one of the lesser expensive aluminum framed offerings can easily be 30lb-35lbs. That said, a lot of the weight is rotational.

This is why they are a great work out. You will be working harder to keep those wheels spinning, (especially if you want to go fast), and accelerating those giant wheels up to speed takes more effort, no doubt. If you ride in snow and/or mud and sand, that goes double.

But it isn't as dour as it might sound to be. Why? Because these bikes are so darned fun and capable. You end up wanting to ride one because, well, "fun" is addictive, and fat bikes are loads of fun.

Scott said...

Excellent.Thank you!