Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Snow Dog Update: #2- Snow Crawling

Update #2: Snow Crawling: Okay, if winter persists, you guys and gals out there are going to get sick of hearing about the Salsa Cycles Mukluk I have here that I dubbed "The Snow Dog".

Why? Because it is an awesomely fun rig, that's why. I have been going out for rides in ridiculously cold weather because this bike is so fun to ride on hard, frozen snow. Temperatures in the mid 20's on up? Well, it isn't as fun, but it still is a hoot. I just have discovered a whole new way to enjoy this bike recently, and I love it. It is soooo fun! I call it "snow-crawling". Kind of like "rock-crawling" in a 4X4, only, well......different!

Used to be that when I strolled down the streets I would get angry when I saw people's sidewalks that were un-shoveled. How rude and un-caring, I once thought. In fact, I was almost becoming a bitter man over this thing. You see, I bust my tail to keep my walk clean, and not only that, but I also clean out the parking area in the street for myself, my neighbors, and most importantly, my Lady. (Mrs. Guitar Ted) She's a Texas girl, and her and snow are not the best of friends, shall we say? Yeah, so I wasn't looking upon the lazy, non-snow shoveling heathen around me with any "warm fuzzies", if you catch my drift.

Well, now I have a new appreciation for these folks. I just love finding beaten down snow paths in areas where folks don't shovel now. With the Snow Dog, they become challenging, rough skinnies. Go off-line and instead of falling you simply sink into the un-packed snow and come to a grinding halt. Fun and I am so thankful for it now. It makes me sharpen my skills.

The other really fun thing are the berms stacked up by various plows that people have walked over to access street crossings. I get a running start in the street, and launch the Snow Dog up and over the steep pitches. If I get hung up, or blow it, I simply sink into the snow, and don't ruin any chain ring teeth or chain rings in the process. What could be better?

So, "snow-crawling" is this and more. Really skinny, deeply carved pathways through snow banks are fun, and build my skills. If I get off-line, again, snow is forgiving. Other cool challenges can be found all over town on sidewalks, alleys, and on street corners. I've gone down some pretty vertical drops of up to four feet and launched up many almost as high. All made of snow. Fun stuff!

The Mukluk is really great at this stuff too. It is almost a fat tired BMX bike, with a really slack head angle! In fact, that is my only complaint so far. Crawling at walking speeds over sketchy snow and trying to pull off a corner is really tough. I'm going to have to start practicing corner hopping! Launching the front up in the air is easier than you might think, and those big, cushy tires have mondo grip and cushion the rough patches nicely. That said, I could totally see where a front suspender would rock on a fat bike for warmer weather on faster trails. Oh yeah! That would be so cool.

Bottom line? This bike is so much fun, and I am totally blessed to have it. I know I would not be riding as much as I have this winter without it. I did an hour plus today at a double digit below zero windchill, actual air temperature of 5 above. No way would I have pulled a bike out last year- or any year before this- at those temps. That makes it totally worthwhile. Not to mention my continued commuting to work on it. (Have you noticed gas prices of late?)

Okay, I'll try not to post so much about this bike. But I really am having fun on it, so I can't seem to help it!


Bill G said...

Post on - you are giving me ideas but in my neck of the woods there are no sidewalks only woods :)

Like the pump track thoug. Maybe I will pay the boy and his friends to go out in the backyard and play in a big circle so I can play around back there!

Keep it up and keep posting!

Steve Fuller said...

...and I thought my Fargo was a "ride over anything" bike. :)

Pump track = excellent idea. I have a nice big yard for that that gives me ideas for next winter.

GT, given the reviews that you do, I'd love to see you be able to get some seat time on a Surly Pugsley and comment on the handling differences between the two. This is completely self serving given that these are the two bikes I'm looking to get, but it seems that there's enough difference between the two geometry wise that they might ride differently.

Also, comments on how you feel about the standover height right now would be welcome too.

Courtney said...

I have developed most of my mountain skill in the snow. I like my 2.4s on my single speed this year running 15/20 psi I can feel some of that fat bike float, without the cost. I still would love a single speed pugsley.

john said...

Mark - This bike might be an important training device for great success in your summer events?

Ari said...

MY training partner Hellmut and I realized that after riding fat bikes all winter it felt weird to get back on the cross bikes. We both experienced hip pain from the different q-factor on the two bikes.

saddle up said...

Welcome to the snow crawlers club! I've been doing the same type of riding for the last few seasons. Previously I used a KHS Solo One 29er, this year I'm riding a Surly KM. I running a 2.4" up front with a 2.25" out back.

I do see a Pugs in my very near future, fat tired 29er's work but not quite to the same level as a true fat bike. There is nothing like the feeling you get when your riding on snow and the bike is both coasting down hill and floating at the same time.

I hear a lot of talk these days about cycling infrastructure, I can't wait for it to be built, Snow Crawlers and Fat Bikes create there own infrastructure.

Lisa and Josh said...

Found this link/video of a fat pump track in Iowa City -

Guitar Ted said...

@Steve Fuller: Might be hard to find a Pugs to get you any beta on. They are about as scarce as Mukluk's now. I will say that stand-over height on the Mukluk hasn't been a problem at all. (And believe me- I'd have smacked the package by now if it wasn't good!)

@john: Maybe. All I know is that it is a heckuva lot of fun right now!

@Ari: Maybe that's why my hip flexors are sore? Hmm...

MICHAEL said...

Glad to hear there are others who are riding the incredible snowpacked roads/alleys and especially residential sidewalks(where permitted). I stumbled onto it 3 yrs ago as I commuted in the wee hours on my SS Karate Monkey. Now I ride about every day on my Redline d440 w/Gazza294's, which are perfect for hard snowpack & ice. Lake riding was my new discovery this year - a big thanks to those guys who plow roads on the local lake