Sunday, August 12, 2012

3GR Report: Fatbike Edition!

The 3GR was to be a fatbiking affair Saturday, so I got myself out the door a bit earlier than usual to make sure I'd get over to Island Park on time. It was a wee bit chilly. I even had to wear a jacket! Such a big change since last week, and a waaaay big change since two weeks ago.

The main thing was that there wasn't a hint of a chance of rain at all. Blue-bird skies all around, and a very light, whisper of a North wind. Basically, it was perfect weather for a bicycle ride. I cranked the Snow Dog steadily Westward and Northward toward downtown Cedar Falls and then checked my phone for the time. Six minutes to spare. Perfect!

I saw more than a few cyclists in the parking lot and a couple of surprises. I had expected Craig, Mike, and first timer Charles to show up, since I had forewarning of their coming, but I didn't expect the two other riders. Ron on his Fargo and Scott on a Specialized 29"er were there for the festivities. Cool!

A wee bit of a problem early on.
Since we were leaving from Island Park, we took the bike path toward Black Hawk Park and squinted into the dappled sunlight. I had shed my jacket by this point, since the sun was quickly rolling the temperatures through the 60's to the 70's. But that was as warm as it was going to get.

Past the shooters at the shooting range, we about made a guy stumble as he was staring at our big fat roaring fatbike wheels. It wouldn't be the last gawker we would see for the day.

Finally we got to the trail leading up to the Union Access. I went in first. Boy!  It sure had gotten rockier back in here since I last rolled tires on this trail, which has to be about 5 years ago now.

No problem with a fatbike though. Just point and shoot. The big wheels just bounced and rolled right on through. I was going a bit fast, or so I thought, but I peeked behind me and everyone else was right on my tail. Okay then! I kept on the gas and we were having fun. I went down and to the left around some branches down on the ground, and then I heard it.

Great views on the Access Trail.
The tell-tale "bloosh!" sound when a tire gets punctured, and by the frequency of the tone, I knew right away that a fat bike tire had punctured.

Sure enough, it was Mike's rear tire that had been center punched by a quarter inch sized twig that put a big star shaped hole in his tire too. Well, I had a good fatbike tube, and Mike used a tire boot that wasn't the greatest, but he got it back together and we were able to move on again.

I took it easy coming out from our unplanned stop, but Mike didn't make a peep, so the tempo went back up to where it had been before until we popped out at Washington-Union Access park and then we turned East down the fresh blacktop for about a mile until we could hop onto Ford Road going North.

The tires buzzed loudly on the new black top. Craig and Charles paced us up this section, and I didn't have a computer, but it felt faster than ever. Finally we peeled off onto Ford Road and gravel again. This bent Eastwards eventually, and we hit old 218 and were obliged to go about a quarter mile North to Gresham Road and back to gravel for good for quite awhile.

We hit the new highway, crossed over without issue, and within another mile, we were back Northward and on the traditional 3GR course again.

Four Fatbikes Kickin' Up The Dust!
We had a great group this time. It was fun to chat with the different riders and I think everyone got a chance to chat with one another at some point during the ride.

At one point, Scott, the fella on the Specialized 29"er, asked if he could take a shot of us all together abreast on the road on our fatbikes. So I obliged him and he pulled off a couple good ones, one of which I have shown here. Thanks Scott!

Late in the ride, Mike pulled up alongside and remarked to me how the ride wasn't a very slow one despite the fatbikes. I heartily agreed! We were really not any slower than we were on our regular rides. But I said that we definitely were burning up a lot more energy going as fast as we were. To be honest, my legs were starting to feel the effort too.

The gravel was really dry and dusty yesterday, and of course, that was no surprise. But I didn't foresee that the fatbike tires would kick up more dust in the air than a traditional bicycle tire. There were times we were riding in the dust plume from the fatbikes ahead of us. I tried to stay up front after I noticed this, since I get a really dry nose if I breathe in too much of that stuff. This summer has been bad that way.

Washed March Mud off to be replaced by August Dust.
We finally pulled back into town and Mike suggested we stop at Pablos for some "cat-sized burritos", (his words, not mine! I like cats and would never eat one.) Charles and Craig were up for that and also joined us while Ron and Scott continued on to ride some more.

The downtown area was bustling with vendors showing wares right out on the sidewalks yesterday, so I figured we wouldn't draw any attention to ourselves with all the hoopla going on. Wrong! There were a lot of folks gawking at our bikes, wondering why we had such big tires, and what they might be for.

One tall, thin, bearded fellow was the best though. As our group engaged in conversation, I noticed his furrowed brow and the stroking of his hairy chin.I overheard him making remarks about how the wheels on our fatbikes wouldn't be good for much of anything. There were better bikes for what most folks were doing.

Obviously, he didn't get it. Probably the concept of "F.U.N." had not entered into his cogitations while he perused our enormously endowed, dusty rigs. Oh well......... It definitely made for a wry grin on my face!

Well, it was noon by this time, and I had to be getting back home. So I motioned that we adjourn the meeting and we all took leave of one another and went on our separate ways. By the time I got home, I was good and whooped. Another 50 miles down and a lot of fun later made for an excellent start to the weekend.

1 comment:

Craig said...

Yep, that's why we ride them. Cuz they're not good for anything :-)