Sunday, December 03, 2017

Local Not Fat Bike Day

Seeing more low water pond bottom crawling opportunities
Yesterday was "Global Fat Bike Day", and locally, I hear we had 50+ riders enjoin in the festivities. That's awesome. However; it was no where near "fat biking weather" or conditions. 

While it is true that fat bikes can double as a mountain bike, that isn't what they are for. Riding when Winter has failed to appear on "normal" single track can hardly be said to be the ideal fat bike celebration terrain or conditions. I mean, why not ride where a fat bike actually makes sense? Like the myriad opportunities that exist now with all the low water and exposed pond, lake, and river bottoms not to mention sand and gravel bars. could just ride a regular mountain bike and forget Global Fat Bike Day. 

That's what I chose to do instead. I just don't see the point in doing a "fat bike day" specific ride when nothing about the day calls out for a fat bike, unless, as I say, you search out some fat bike specific riding opportunities. That wasn't what the group here was about, so let them be and I did my own thing. To each their own. At least we are all out riding bicycles.

So, I went out to breakfast with my son, went to the local barber shop, where we both got trimmed up, and then afterward went on a single track ride on my Pofahl. The weather was fantastic for early December. Sunny, 50-ish, low wind. I pretty much had the trail to myself with the exception of one other mountain bike rider. Well, that and a few dog walkers.

These little islands look like sugar loafs now. Generally they are just barely sticking out of the water.
Originally the Pofahl was meant to be a single speed specific drop bar 29"er in the vein of my '03 Karate Monkey. It almost immediately was turned into a gravel rig with 38 X 18 gearing. That's what I rode out on the single track. It wasn't bad for around here. It is pretty flat with almost zero technical difficulties. (Another reason fat biking single track in normal conditions here is silly.) So tall gearing works okay.

Mid-afternoon light.Tough to see well in during this time of year.
In fact, even riding the Pofahl was super easy. I probably could just as easily have ridden one of my gravel rigs through here and I would have been fine. The dirt is smooth, fast, and pretty grippy. What trail obstacles that do exist are pretty short lived, easy to negotiate, and don't call out for anything with a big tire like my Pofahl, unless it gets wet. There maybe is a tiny bit of sand here and there over the way I went, but it isn't anything like what the Green Belt can dish out for sandy spots.

I rode an old trail I helped lay out in the mid-90's back there.  It was fun to reminisce about when there wasn't any trail back in that particular spot and how this one has lasted all these years when others have faded from memory or have been taken out by the Cedar River. Some have succumbed to wind storms and the resulting tree falls that choked them out. Others were victims of land access rights. It's been a strange 25 years of riding single track around here, that's for sure. It's also weird when you are one of the only people around anymore that remembers any of that stuff from way back.

I cannot ever ride back in these woods without memories of how the trails once were coming to the forefront of my mind. It almost is distracting. I'll just leave it at that. Suffice it to say that I have a lot of strong feelings about all of that stuff that, in the end, doesn't seem to matter, and so I have decided to let that go. Pick your battles, and all that........

I had a good ride though and got some more important things done. That was the main thing I wanted to do. And as far as fat biking goes, well, I hope to get back over there and cruise some of the exposed sandy, rocky stuff that is typically underwater. That stuff looks like what a fat bike was made to ride on.


Cory said...

I know a group of people that think a fat bike is for EVERYTHING. Gravel,singletrack,road riding, rail trails, the Racoon Valley River trail around Des Moines and everything in between. I always caught heck from them for being the only guy in the group that didn't have a fat bike. One day I hopped on one friends Surly Moonlander on the Bacoon Ride and rode 40+ miles on 5.5" knobbies. After the ride my friend asked me if I was a convert now? I looked at him with disgust and sore legs and said anything that you have to pedal downhill isn't something I feel like straddling my legs over again! I still don't own one. I do have a bike that can hold 2.5 for sure and I have heard rumors of people fitting 2.8 in there but that is a project for down the road. As ridiculous as I think they get with their "Fat bike or death" bravado Ted, like you said to each their own.

Bob said...

I love each of my fat bikes for different reasons. 2011 Mukluk is set up for stand up ocean surf riding all year round. 2015 Blackborow 1 runs double Buds for 1-dog bike jour and double Vee snakeskins for summertime asphalt centuries. The new Blackborow GX frameset should arrive after Christmas and will become my about town cruiser and bike packing gravel mule. I'm grateful to have the bikes and the legs to ride them. We each ride our own ride.

Guitar Ted said...

@Robert Jones- I think you kind of missed the point. The day we have this "Global Fat Bike Day" on isn't conducive to a day where most folks in North America, at least, can use a fat bike for what they are really for, because it comes too early in the Winter. And if they can go on difficult terrain, they don't. Which I find odd for a day that celebrates such a bike with such specific capabilities. You'd think you might want to, you know, put the tires where other bikes cannot go......

The rest of the year, whatever..... Do whatcha want. My opinion is that, while fat bikes can be ridden for whatever ride you want, (as long as any rules that apply allow them to be ridden), it doesn't mean that every ride fits a fat bike's design intentions best. I mean, even I have used a fat bike on a gravel grind, or for a commute to work, (on a mostly paved route), but let's be honest- There are better bikes for those jobs. I'm sure you can think of other instances where a fat bike isn't really the ideal tool for the job. But if folks think it is fun, go for it.

Again, as you say, "We each ride our own ride", but that wasn't my point with this post.