I feel I should warn you before you begin, this one is going to be a looooonnnngggg one, mostly pictures and some words but you'll need to have some free time to dedicate here to get through it all in one sitting. Here we go...
It was a warm August day, or maybe it was September who really remembers, when the subject of Global Fat Bike Day or more specifically, were we doing another one and what were we doing this year, was broached. Since last years ride was an absolute blast, the question wasn't really if we were doing it again this year but more what were we going to do? I know August seems like a long time off to be thinking about a ride in December but as we learned on our rookie year, there is a ton of planning, contacting of sponsors and preparations that are needed and we sort of short changed ourselves last year but we didn't know any better. So this year we gave ourselves a bit more time but even then, the months between August and December were just a blur.
So on the wee hours of December 3rd a few of us found ourselves in the parking lot of Cycle Works setting up the final touches in preparation for the crowds.
Sometimes all that is needed when preparing is the right tool for the job or in this case the proper lubrication for that tool.
It's a good thing we got there super early because folks started showing up in earnest around 9 o'clock to get ready to roll out at 10.
Had a lot of new faces and a lot of familiar faces show up for the ride, I'm not sure what our total numbers were last year or what our total numbers were this year but I'd bet we were pretty close to the same number of riders both years. This year I think we saw more fat bikes however, the weather was a bit colder and there was a chance of precipitation in the forecast which probably helped skew those numbers more toward fatter tires, that and the fact that more people have come over to the fatter side of things. Which is the right side to be on in my opinion.
We even had a guest photographer in the form of Michael McColgan of McColgan Photography out of Omaha come down and contribute to the photo coverage of the event, you'll see some of his work here in the blog. In addition to being a top notch photog, Mike is also involved with the Nebraska Fat Bikes Facebook page, if you're a fat biker in Nebraska or Iowa you should give the page a look.
Shortly before the ride was scheduled to depart, it was time to round everyone up for a group photo... herding cats is probably easier but in the end we managed.
With Rock's evil eye of approval it was time to climb the ladder and let the shutter fly.
Michael jumped on the ladder first, so I took the back seat and waited for my turn.
Speaking of back seats... oops, camera must have misfired.
The results of the group photo are at the top of the page and it turned out really well I think, these are a few of the crowd while they were still somewhat compacted for the pre-rollout announcements. It's really high up there on the ladder, almost got a nose bleed.
And then, just like that we were rollin.
Both routes left out the same way down R Street to the Antelope Valley Trail, it was awesome seeing all those fat bikes rolling down the street at one time.
The transition from road to trail could have used a little more work... herding cats I tell you.
Oddly we had the Antelope Valley Trail almost to ourselves, there were a few people on it but surprisingly few given the time of day but perhaps that was a blessing in disguise.
Once we rounded Memorial Stadium, we headed north over the pedestrian bridges toward Haymarket Park. While it would have been rad to have that many bicycles invade the Haymarket, this route was probably safer and safety always trumps rad, always.
As planned and right on schedule, as we started nearing Wilderness Park, the snow we ordered started falling. There will be a little something extra in the weatherman's stocking this year, might be the first Global Fat Bike Day Ride where we had snow falling or on the ground... bonus!
The closer we got to the Park, the harder it began to snow. At first they were just tiny little snow flakes but it was snow none the less.
It was about this time when we had our first mechanical issue of the day, a loose hub on the Pugsley brought us to a halt.
Well, a small group of us anyway, most continued on and left us there in the cold solitude of the first winter snowfall.
By the time the main group had made it to the Van Dorn trail head, the small flakes had turned into large, wet, fluffy flakes. Great for riding in but not so great for trying to take pictures in but we would manage. Russ is doing his best Rudolph impersonation here and leading the group. Russ with your legs so bright, won't you guide our group tonight?
I know the front group did their best to wait for us but with the hub issue followed by a tire pressure issue, we were probably 15 minutes behind at this point.
After a bit they were off again.
Better late than never, we did eventually make it to the point of the routes where they would split into two groups. One following the pavement out to Pioneers Park and the other group going into Wilderness trying to play catch up with the lead group.
Rick was still on the bridge over Salt Creek with the group heading out towards Pioneers Park.
So I scooped up the stragglers that were heading into Wilderness and took off after the lead group. Before we get to that though, I do have some pictures from the Pioneers group to share.
Buffalo, Native American Cheifs and snow angels abound for the Pioneers group... and at some point, Rick must have handed out his ration of Fireball and Rum Chatta, it's the only thing that explains the next series of photos.
I can only imagine the conversation went a little something like this... Did it take the picture? I don't think it did, hit the button again... I still don't think it worked, oh wait, there it goes! But, I wasn't ready lets take another! There I think I finally got one. Whatever the conversation might have been, it looked like a great time.
Back to the regularly scheduled programming. It just wasn't in the cards that day to catch the bigger group, we did sweep up quite a few on the way into the park but then we had a broken chain which caused us to stop again for quick repairs. By this time the snow was really coming down it big, wet flakes and melting almost immediately so most of the rest of the pictures have some water on the lens, trying to ride and take pictures meant that it was near impossible to keep the lens clear of melting snow... most of them still came out decent enough with just a few spots here and there.
While the lead group might have had the speed on us that day, we had the liquor and sometimes that's more important than being fast.
Plus we had this, I'm not even sure what it was but I want one; looked cool and sounded cooler-er.
Chain fixed, we were rolling again and a bit warmer internally to boot.
There ended up being a lot more of us than I had initially thought but with Gary riding cleanup it was easy to spot when the last rider had gone by.
Snow started sticking, minimal wind, it was turning out to be a perfect day for Global Fat Bike Day.
A few miles and then a regroup was the status quo for the day but everyone seemed to have a huge grin on their faces and the temps were staying right at or above freezing so stopping wasn't horribly cold.
A few more miles and we almost literally ran into the other group, they went east and we went west around the planned loop... two opposite directions wasn't in the plans but it worked out and we managed not to collide head on. Since the snow was starting to change over to rain and it was getting on towards noon, we decided to all turn around as one group and head back for some chili, beer and a warm/dry place.
Not sure why but the way back always seems faster than the way out and in no time we were back on the Jamaica Trail.
The snow had almost entirely changed over to sprinkles or wintry mix, this made the ride home a wet one which is no fun to ride in but even worse for pictures.
Since we had out of town guests, the planned route back took us onto the N Street Cycle Track so that those not familiar with it could get a glimpse of it first hand.
Safely back at Cycle Works, it was time to huddle under the tents and eat some amazing chili.
All of the chili in the chili contest was delicious, it was really hard to determine the winner and they all went super quick so you couldn't dawdle getting some. I believe there were 11 total dishes entered to win the contest, great turn out.
After everyone had a chance to eat, drink and get dry it was time to raffle off the prizes.
But before the raffle we had to give out the prizes for the best three chili entries. First place went to an amazing chili that had a smoky/bbq flavor and big chunks of meet. Second went to a traditional and tasty chili on the medium side of heat but with good flavor. Third was a delicious white chicken chili that went like lightening when it was put out. All three would have been winners if I had my way but that's not how contests work I suppose.
Next up was the best beard contest, this one was a clear winner with the crowd favorite being the gentleman in the green fleece.
Last contest was the hairiest legs for the ladies, not sure how we didn't get a picture of the three contestants but we did get legs. This was our clear winner, you can't tell here real well but they were hairy!
Thanks to our awesome sponsors (SRAM, Salsa, Moran's, Blue Blood Brewing, Orange Seal Cycling, Club Ride Apparel and Walz Caps) we had plenty of prizes to raffle off and we cannot thank them enough for their generosity, I don't think a single person left without something in hand. All of our sponsors are super rad companies and you should keep them in mind next time you are looking to spend some money on biking gear or adult beverages and show them how much you appreciate their help enabling us to put on this amazing event.
While not an official contest, if we would have had a most colorful hat contest; Jason would have won hands down with this one from the guys just down the road. Love it!
Whew, that was quite a read; thanks for sticking with it and thanks to all who made it out. It was another super fun and successful Global Fat Bike Day in my assessment and you guys and gals really do make all the work well worth it. Let's do it again next year!
Still looking for rides this winter? Don't forget to come out for Cycle Works Holiday Lights Ride on December 18th, the event page should be popping up soon.
For those looking for something more competitive Angry Cow Adventures is having a Fat Bike race on January 21st at Omaha's Chalco Reservoir aptly named the Chalco Chiller, details are here.
Thanks again for coming out and for your continued support, you folks rock.