Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Ultimate All-Terrain Vehicle?

A Cool B Road On The 2011 GTDRI Course
On Wednesday, I needed to do some final checking on a potentially closed B Road in Tama County that is part of the Guitar Ted Death Ride Invitational that happens this Saturday.

I decided to take the Snow Dog for the job. Yes- a fat bike. I have an idea that the fat bike might be the best for B Road explorations since B Roads in Iowa can present certain difficulties that normal gravel road riding doesn't. Things like ruts, for example. And not just any ol' ruts either.

Another reason I took it was because I might have run into some wet areas, (I didn't), and my thought was to test the bigger tires on the sticky clay. I still have not gotten to do that yet, but that day will come. I did get into some sticky wet gravel the last time I went down this way, and those bulbous tires did alright. Sure did.

What I didn't think of was silty dust and sand. Yes, I did run across this and the fat tires were great on it. The best part was that I left minimal impact on the road. Only the little Larry tread block pattern, and nothing more was left by my passing. The next decent gust of wind will hide that in a heart beat. Cool!

Wild Flowers In Tama County

What is striking me about having the Mukluk is that this just might be the "true all-terrain bike". While it isn't fast, nimble, or probably a choice many would consider at first, (I know I didn't), I think people would be pleasantly surprised by the format's capabilities. While I have not done this, my friend Ben Witt says that the fat bike tires do really well on big rocky terrain where one would normally think of a full suspension mountain bike.

I do know that places I thought were "off-limits" due to the difficulty in traversing over the terrain are now sought out because of the fat bike. The floatation of the tires, and bump absorbing qualities come in handy.....most of the time.

Sure, the tires and wheels are heavy, and the steering is a bit sluggish, but with the right attitude, one can climb stuff, go over stuff, and have more fun on terrain that challenges a "normal" mountain bike, or stops them dead in their tracks. You work harder going up, but not that much harder. You just gear down, and crawl, instead of powering over,or getting knocked off-line, perhaps. I don't quite know how to put it other than you have to ride these with a whole different attitude than a normal mountain bike, or cross bike on gravel, B Roads, and where ever else you fancy going. That sand bar along the river? You bet. Got a mud bog to cross to get to the other side? Go for it. Snow? Well.....of course!

A Barn For Jason B
 And About That Course: Yeah, well I got turned around and lost for awhile yesterday. (Remember my post about Adventure?) It turned out okay, but in the process I found a stunning gravel road that with a bit of re-routing would be a great addition to the GTDRI course. So.....I'm changing the cues again! 

I'm sorry, but this road is worth it.  It eliminates a chunk of boring, narrow paved blacktop. It climbs the same ridge, but does so in a more serpentine, interesting, and rustic way on gravel. Plus, if we are as lucky as I was Wednesday, we'll spy a zebra. Yes- an honest to goodness zebra. It eliminates about a half mile of pavement overall too. (Well, more if you count riding on the shoulder, and we're going to.)  The downside? We'll have to ride on the shoulder of HWY 63 for a mile and a half north out of Toledo. It is a wide, gravel shoulder though, so it shouldn't be an issue.

I've got people coming from Michigan for the ride even! Talk about floored. It will be fun to see everyone that shows up. I can't wait. And no.....I won't be riding the Mukluk! (Although it would be better on the B Roads!)


Head Honcho said...

The fat bike takes potential riding areas from this | | much to THIS much | |. Its just amazing what you can do with them. I need to get Eric to finish mine, then go ride. It's by far my favorite bike in the stable.

Oh, and you should hold the GTDRI on a Sunday. I'd go then!

Yeti said...

A fat bike is indeed very close to the ultimate all terrain bike. As long as the amount of pavement and easy gravel is kept low it is a good choice.

Tom said...

We just need a drop bar fat bike.

Fat Pugger said...

I have to attest to the fact that my Pugsley goes everywhere up here in the rocky, rooty New England Trails and does an exceptional job getting me into and out of trouble that my former full squish bike could never tackle without tons of body english and horsepower!

Mike Johnson said...

I love mine. Brings a smile each time I get on to ride. I plan on bringing it out for Sat.

Vito said...

Tom...It's easy to just throw some woodchippers or other drop bars on a fat bike:)