Sunday, December 28, 2014

Inaugural SMNDFBR


I had been toying around with the idea of getting a "snow" bike for years now, back before they were as mainstream as they are now, but I was having a hard time reasoning why I needed a bike specifically made for riding in snow. There are years that even here in cold ole Nebraska we don't really get much in the way of snow, this year being a prime example, so it was always difficult to justify purchasing another bicycle that as name implies would potentially sit for at least 6 months on even the snowiest of years. I think one of the main reasons that fat bikes have really taken off is that companies have removed "snow" from the name and replaced it with "fat" and then started marketing it more as a do everything, go anywhere bike. I don't think that fat bikes have become popular because all the big companies are making them, I think all the big companies are now making them because once people realized that they could ride their fat tire bike all year round the popularity skyrocketed, the once hard to justify "snow bike" now became just another must have mountain bike you could ride year round; this one just has really big, bouncy, smile inducing tires. I recently joined the fat bike club and am very happy that I did, they are really amazing bikes that have opened my eyes to some of their possible applications that do not include any snow at all... although snow is still one of the things they do really well.

Yesterday was the inaugural Saturday Morning No Drop Fat Bike Ride, luckily for me the great folks at Cycle Works have allowed me to hijack their Facebook page from time to time and use it to organize these types of group rides and reach more people than I would otherwise be able to; because bikes are always more fun with friends. We started the ride with 6 and picked up another 3 on the way, I was super stoked to have that many come out, wasn't sure what we might get for turn out being Christmas weekend, I was more than pleasantly surprised.


Temps were in the 20s at 9 a.m., the sun was out and we even got a light dusting of snow, conditions were almost perfect for riding fat tire bikes through Wilderness Park.


Fat Bikes probably won't make you any cooler than you already are but they certainly won't hurt either as seen here by this "cool like the other side of the pillow" lean. I can attest that they are conversation starters, while they might be well known in the cycling community (love them or hate them) they are still relatively unknown to the non-cycling population, people just seem to be in awe of all that rubber and will often ask you about the bike or want to take a picture of it to later show their friends.


Rolling through the Haymarket 5 Fatties deep, it was kind of cool listening to the sound all those knobs rolling on the pavement as they echoed off the urban canyon walls.


Getting to the park was more treacherous than riding in it as some of the streets were slick from the freezing drizzle that started before the snow, had myself a pretty good wipe out going around a corner just getting there. It doesn't look like too much from this picture (and I'll save you from seeing the one on my hip) but it definitely got my attention, today they are less sore but a bit more stiff after having 24 hours to set in.




For the most part Wilderness Park was in great shape, the light snow covering the frozen mud helped considerably with traction but it also helped to hide some of the ice spots underneath, by the end of the ride I was not the only person to become reacquainted with the ground.


The snow did not help on the wooden bridges at all, especially this one, the going was pretty slow and slick, even walking up that slight incline proved interesting.


It was touch and go there for awhile but we all made it to the other side in one piece. Whew!

The two water crossings on the back side were a little sketchy but they were tame compared to the swamp section, the almost frozen water/mud combo was probably the most unnerving... well except for these two crazy fools. The rest of us opted to play it safe and walk along the edge, I'd already had my spill for the day and wasn't looking for another and bringing a muddy bike home to an apartment will sometimes get you killed. Looked like fun though, actually the entire ride was a blast and save for a one or two other people we pretty much had Wilderness to ourselves. Our timing was perfect as well, even though the temps were still well below freezing at 11 a.m. the sun was just starting to make the trails a little soft when we finished up, the fat bike gods were smiling down on us this day.


As is usually the case once the ride was over everyone scattered in the general direction of their perspective homes, Tyler and I decided to stop in at Crescent Moon Coffee on the way back to Cycle Works for a little warm up and some delicious coffee, an excellent choice.


Also decided to take a little Memorial Stadium detour as well, not a bad place for a picture if you ask me and Tyler's Mukluk matched perfectly with the motif of the stadium.

The ride was definitely a blast and the second installment is already posted as an event for the 10th of January, not sure how many of these we will be able to get in this winter with it being so unusually warm and wet. With any luck we will be able to parlay the winter rides right into the usual summer time group rides without missing a beat.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Peanut Butter, Jelly Time


Weathers been in a cycle of fog, overcast skies and temps hovering just above freezing... today was no exception so decided to do a little gravel and B road riding. Met up with Tyler out at Schram State Park and headed out from there.


Kinda needed to piss before the ride but I guess toilets are only for warmer times, pretty inconsiderate of my bladder to not plan ahead, almost got frost bite on the little guy when I had to resort to watering the vegetation around the corner.



Seemed like Platte River was the dividing line between pretty much dry and some accumulated snow, from the looks of the tracks on the bridge we weren't the only ones with gravel on their minds.


I guess putting a galvanized sign on the galvanized silo is just a little be too costly, oh well makes for a more interesting picture that way.


Then it was time for some minimum maintenance roads.




The first couple were mostly frozen and a ton of fun to ride...


What's Tyler looking at?


Rudolph!?!? Hopefully it's just a normal deer and not one of the reindeer, Santa might be a little late if it is.


Unfortunately the temps started climbing just a few degrees and it was  few degrees too many, just ridding along and all of a sudden BOOM, peanut butter mud and it packed on quick! The good part was that we were only about a quarter mile in on this particular minimum maintenance road, the bad news was that the mud had a snowball effect and just kept piling on until the rear tire was locked up but good. So it then became the 1000 yard fat bike push, thing managed to pile up at least a good 30 lbs of mud before it locked up making carrying it not really an option... since I still had to walk on that same peanut butter mud.


Took us about 45-60 minutes to get the bike back to the gravel and enough mud cleaned off so that it could actually roll... and then it was still slow going for awhile as things didn't want to roll quite as smoothly while the mud was shedding left and right. We must have looked pretty pathetic out there as we had one truck and a sheriffs car stop to make sure we were alright and didn't need help.


We even made a new friend along the way, nice dog but a bit odd as he was doing some growl/purr thing while being pet... wasn't sure if he was happy, mad or just wanted to bend you over the bike and have his way with you.


Most of the mud seemed to fling itself off during the 15 mile ride back to the cars... most but not all of it.


Figured out that if there ever was a bike that needed to be a 1X10 the Farley is that bike, mud just seemed to hit the spot where the front derailleur, down tube and chain stay met and pile up there. With such close tolerances it was a bitch to get off even with a small stick, might have to figure out how to drop the derailleur on the front.


Not wanting to be strung up by my testicles and spend the better part of next year in the dog house, the first stop when I got back to civilization was the car wash to rinse off the rest of the built up Nebraska top soil before heading home. I don't like to take the bike to the car wash but since it's the middle of winter I didn't really have any other option. Being careful to avoid spraying the nozzle directly on the seals and bearings it was a slow process but eventually the mud disappeared and a Farley was still underneath. Going to need a good once over and lots of lube tomorrow but she didn't look too worse for wear despite spending a few hours caked in mud. Next time I'll have to pay better attention to temps and how nasty the minimum maintenance road looks, although even with all that mud we weren't making any real noticeable ruts, it just kind of stuck to itself until you were fudged. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Farleys and Otters and Gravel... Oh My.


With Saturday temps being ideal for riding, even if the clouds and fog weren't, I decided it would be a great time to take the Farley out for a decent gravel ride. All told I managed to get about 25 1/2 miles in, probably could have gone a bit further but time was slipping away on the afternoon and the weather started looking a little worse as well.


Because the day was so nice I stopped at Walnut Creek Recreational Area and just plopped my backside on a rock near the banks of the lake and sat and looked around. It wasn't more than a few minutes before I was rewarded, all of a sudden this little guy surfaced just a few feet off the shore from me and nonchalantly swam around for a bit before diving below the surface again and disappearing.


Moving on I decided to shoot up Schram Road, the Farley handled the gravel really well. One of the nice things, I discovered, about riding a fat bike on gravel is that you don't need to be so concerned with finding the best line like you do on a cross bike or even a mountain bike. With almost 4 inches of undampened suspension and traction for days you can just point and pedal, floating over deep gravel pockets, chuck holes and wash boards with ease. Ideally you'd still want to choose the best line when possible as it will still be the smoothest and possibly fastest route but the penalty for making a mistake is almost imperceptible on the Farley.


I do most of my riding solo, which is probably not a bad thing since I take the camera on every ride and it's not unusual for me to stop frequently and take a few shots of the bike or nature or nature and the bike together in perfect harmony. For me a good ride isn't necessarily one where I beat my personal best but more one that leaves me refreshed and ready to face the "real world" again once it's over, I think the Farley is going to fit nicely into my riding style.


Having those massive tires you'd think that the Farley would be S  L  O  W... but while moving that amount of rubber certainly takes a bit more effort, once you get them rolling they actually churn along nicely. Once I get my fattie strength built up it might get even better but right now it seems like the Farley is about a mile an hour slower than the single speed on relatively the same route. Trek did an excellent job with gearing (11/36 in the rear and 36/22 up front) even on the roller coaster hills I never had to drop down out of the big ring up front and often was three gears up from the bottom on the rear even on the steep climbs... if I had one complaint it would be that the top end wasn't quite there when cruising down the back side of the climbs but then again speeds above 28 mph was probably not a huge concern for the Trek engineers when they were deciding on the gears. Fat Bikes have always looked like they would be a lot of fun to ride, they are even more fun to actually ride than they look.

Friday, December 12, 2014

I'm Not Fat I'm Big Tubed.


As I said in an earlier blog, I was gifted a trainer earlier this month and I was and still am pretty excited about it as there are going to be days where it's just too cold and nasty out there to get much of a ride in... that and when you're on the trainer you are always just a few steps away from the cold beer!


I figured I'd be doing a good portion of my riding inside this winter if it ever decided to snow but then I picked up this bad boy, because I have the most amazing and understanding GF in the entire world I didn't even have to talk her into it all that hard. Of course I sorta have been wearing her down a little at a time over the last 2 years. It did result in me needing to sell one of the other bikes in the stable due to space limitations and to an extent it always helps to have money from the sale of one bike to fund the purchase of another. However it is hard selling a bike as it's almost like selling off one of your children, but it's a bike that I just wasn't riding all that much and it's a bike that definitely deserves to be ridden. Hopefully the new owner will ride it often and give it the love it needs.


As for the new bike, I've only had it out for one real ride but from the initial impressions I thinks it's going to be a blast to ride. I still need to dial in the P.S.I. on the tires but the bike seems more mountain bike like in handling and feel than most of the other Fat Bikes I have ridden and to be honest it doesn't seem much slower than my single speed but more testing is needed to verify or dispel that feeling... either way, it's going to be a fun winter.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Trainers, Turkey and Tidings of Comfort and Joy...

It's been a busy few weeks and the poor blog has been neglected something fierce, if I had any readership at all I'd almost feel bad about that.


Broke down and finally got a trainer and by got I mean it was an early Christmas present from the best GF in the entire world... although, now that I think about it, is it a good sign when your significant other starts buying you things to workout on or with?!? I do appreciate the gift though, as I get older I've noticed a few things, my desire to get out in and tolerance for the cold is diminishing each year, gone are the days of making snow angels in shorts and a t-shirt in 20° weather. I've also noticed that my tolerance for the smell of Ben-Gay and Old Spice have increase proportionately but probably the weirdest thing I've noticed is that the older I get the smaller my feet have become! At first I thought it was just in my mind but as time has gone on it's undeniable now, I used to be able to look down and see most of my foot, all the way from ankle to toe but recently the amount of foot visible has been steadily decreasing... weirdest damn thing ever and don't even get me started on doctors, I don't care how many fancy diplomas you have on your wall, I seriously doubt your doctoring merits, dude keeps telling me my feet aren't shrinking. Instead the keeps changing the subject, going on about eating better and exercising more. What a quack, how in the hell is eating better and exercising more going to make my feet stop shrinking????


November also brought the annual Turkey Day Ride, I've gone a few years now and have been a horrible guest and haven't brought anything so this year I decided to change that and made some chocolate covered bacon.


Even though Swanson has moved up to the great white north, the annual Turkey Day Ride has lived on... Swanson even came down and brought his Ice Cream Truck for the ride, that's a whole lotta rubber.


Had a pretty good turn out for the ride, it's always a lot of fun and usually has a little bit of everything.


Had some "regular" mountain bikes.




A few Fatties.


A couple of  those skinny tire dudes elected to ride their cross bikes.


Even had a little trail side maintenance class courtesy of Corey.


The post ride food was amazing as always...



The helmet hair was pretty amazing by it's own right as well, I guess that's what happens when you need to get all bundled up for the cold.


Managed a ride on Friday also, fewer pictures but a lot warmer temps. Didn't get out at all on Saturday even though it was the day I should have gotten out since it was in the 70s and the warmest one of the entire weekend.


I Did get out again on Sunday for a ride with Tyler out at Platte River State Park, unfortunately with the wind it was even colder than Thursday... I must be a glutton for punishment.



Frozen water fall and ice chunks were kind of a cool bonus for braving the bitter cold. Hopefully we will get a repeat of the weather pattern for Christmas, 70s in December would be nice.