In the Winter, many folks want to test their fat bikes on the snow. Many of you out there may be first time fat bikers or may be curious seekers that are trying to figure this out to see if fat biking is for you. If you get nothing else from this, keep in mind, if you can't ride through snow/sand, let more air out of your rear tire!
Of course, like anything else, it is a bit more complex than this, but hang on.... It is easy to figure out what to do. The secret to optimum air pressure for any tough, loose condition is as easy as using your fingers and eyes. I would assume that if you are a cyclist, you most likely have command over the use of both of these functions.
This isn't my secret, but it was passed along by one of the most experienced fat biker's on Planet Earth, Mike Curiak. He passed this on via the fat bike forum on mtbr.com, and I have pretty much verified his advice via my personal experience. Here's what you do:
- Let enough air out of your rear tire that when you sit on the bike, (fully geared up, preferably), you see one wrinkle in the sidewall of the tire. This will be a different air pressure for different folks, so a number won't do, and a range won't either, since varying the psi by .5lb can drastically change your results. Really. But that's all there is to it to start with.
|When the going gets rough and loose...|
How much did I change the air pressure? Heck- I don't have a gauge that accurate to know, but it wasn't by much. However; in terms of "go-no-go" it was a huge difference. Now I was riding through stuff that only a minute ago I could barely make headway on. The result was air pressure so low that when I hit pavement I was bouncing on every pedal stroke. I stopped and aired up with 75 strokes of my Topeak mini-pump. That made a difference, but when I got home, the air pressure reading I got on my "base" measuring pump was something below 5psi! So when I had it low enough to get me through that wicked, loose snow, I bet I was waaaay down there! I do recall that I could almost bottom the tire out by leaning hard into it with the palm of my hand, so it was at a very low psi. But again- you do what ya gotta do to get through. Then air up.
Try that on your next fat bike ride in loose or fresh snow.
In another stunner, the UCI has a rule that states you can not race in events that either the UCI, or apparently, USAC does not sanction. (Read the Velo story on particulars related to this here.) If you do, you can be fined, according to their rules in place now.
So, why should you care? Maybe you are a gravel grinder kind of guy and this doesn't pertain to you. Or does it? Let's say you sign up to do a few early season crits, then to get into shape, you do a gravel grinder, unsanctioned, of course, and run afoul of this rule. Maybe you are a mountain biker, and you do gravel events, or an event that isn't on the USAC calendar. Could you be at risk?
Now while it may seem far fetched that USAC or the UCI would crack down on local or regional Cat 1, 2, or 3's, it would seem apparent that the cycling federations could if they wanted to.
And this isn't anything new, but it does seem rather Draconian. In fact,other racing series, (notably NASCAR), tried doing this as well. I can see why a racing series that relies on its star drivers, or core performers, to put butts in the stadium seats, would want to keep the congregation inside its church walls. However; USAC and the UCI can hardly claim that they are losing sales to "rival races" or series because they don't have fans in the seats. They might be afraid you won't choose their events to ride in though, and with the slew of "free, grassroots" gravel races cropping up and getting a lot of attention with big numbers now, the UCI and USAC may just start taking notice here.
Or maybe not. Either way, it is interesting to note that amongst mountain bike racers I have seen commenting on this, unless they are Pro, sponsored athletes, the majority seem to be thumbing their noses at USAC. So, tell me- "Just how does this help grass roots racing and raise up a new, enthusiastic, larger core of riders under the UCI/USAC banner?" I'll tell you what....it doesn't.
And most gravel grinder guys and gals probably won't care. Oh......right then.
Hope everyone has a great weekend and maybe you'll get outside to sled, ski, or ride a bicycle.