Lots of real singletrack today, some deep mud going in and out of my favorite river...
Just me riding so no action shots on the Beast
A couple sections of 6-8" deep slushy snow and some pavement. I still haven't taken the time to count the teeth on the cog as I've been having too much fun riding, but I had no issues pushing it today. That said, any significant rise means standing.
The handling is truly great. My ideas about fatbike geometry are significantly 'off' from what some manufacturers are building but to my way of thinking the quick/agile front end and the stable/slack seat post is great. I only wish the stays were much much shorter. This bike also has a much lower bottom bracket than my custom.
I'm happy enough with the fit etc., that my only plans at this point are to drill the rims.
Some people have been saying bad things about the tires online- I believe due to the price. The tires are great. I have light larry's and husker du's and they are what they are and so are these... these are appropriate for 'real' use and fit the bike right.
No idea when I'll get around to modifying the rims.
That's my first impression: 90% of the fun for 10% of the cost.
About 15 minutes from box to riding. I am 5'11" and it was no issue making it fit. Simply would not work for anyone over 6' though without a longer post and a cramped feel.
I put all the stock parts on it and weighed it at 47 lbs and then removed reflectors, stock saddle, kickstand etc. as shown. I did not reweigh it today but promise to weigh it again after some more drastic, still cheap/free, weight reduction measures. I'll be leaving the chain guard on as the primary use will be commuting.
All of the parts are of decent quality and fit well with no issues right out of the box. Extremely impressive for $200.
Frame is steel with a 1 1/8 ht, 135ish front spacing, 170mm rear, 100mm rims (I know there was some debate/question about those items)
I lowered the air pressure down to about 6 psi and headed out...
Here is the same shot of my own custom carbon bike... more here, interesting how the geometry differs etc.
Initial impressions of the handling are that it is extremely stable. The chain stays are super long and the bike does feel "heavy" but overall it's pretty neutral. I think it's just about perfect for a true entry level offroad bike. No trouble to take the hands off the bars and cruise around the city but also agile enough for some singletrack.
The tires are not the "spider" tires that I was expecting the bike to come with. I was excited about the tread pattern as soon as I saw it... the solid center is a nice touch for a bike that many will ride primarily on pavement but the progressively taller knobs felt solid on snow, even with ice patches. They also provided significant float. Overall they have a slightly larger contact patch at 7 psi than my "light larry's" on 80mm rims.
One of my concerns was how the coaster brake would perform. It has almost immediate engagement and plenty of power. It will take some getting used to in order to ride a coaster brake bike on ice and snowy singletrack, but I was immediately having fun with it.
I'm excited to ride the bike more and it will be my every day commuter going forward. I am confident in the bike structurally for any conceivable use but the reliability of the hub could be a key issue going forward and is one that I'll be watching carefully.
Two really great things happened Saturday. Over $1300 was raised for a more than worthy cause and 60+ people came out to ride their bikes in some pretty awesome and extreme spring conditions. I hung out for a while after the race and I was impressed with Dillon and his family. It was great that they were able to come out and hang out with some of us riders. His mom wanted to know if any of us had achieved personal bests which was funny due to the nature of the route and weather but also silly when compared to what Dillon has to face. He said he would put the money toward college. At the same time it was also really awesome that so many people showed up, rode and finished in such varied/difficult conditions. This was a good event.
I wanted to win the race. Early, early alarm. Up before even six and stumbling in the dark. No soda... weird, how do I kickstart my day without my normal caffeine source? Powdered milk... really? Then screw it, let's get McDonalds as the sun rises. Unsweetened ice tea, woo! Off route on the way up to test the gravel, looking for the previous days car ruts. Two bike options. Ride the tubular cx tires on the CX bike or the 2.1s on the "touring" Flash, both on repaired 404s. What a couple of options! Best logic is to ride the bike that will be fast at the end in the muck, right?
At the check in got the old pep-talk... pushed to the skinny bike. Going light means better haul ass. It won't soften up out there until at least 1 right? That was the game plan then and I meant it. Pre-race meeting and winning time is predicted at 6, maybe 5.5 hours... well after the thaw.
We roll over the start line at about 8:15. Fifteen or twenty minutes in, staying out of trouble at the front. Ice and snow and ruts. Kick on a hill and it's just me and Hollywood is on a thin string. I miss a turn, group of 6 catch us. Screw it, just ride right past them again. Not interested in keeping this thing together, need to get back before the road melts. Another wrong turn, map trouble... figure it out. Auto-zoom is no good for following the purple line on the Garmin.
Have to sit in while sorting Garmin and be smarter. We hit a hugely ice-rutted section and my bottle cage falls off my bike. Turn to retrieve and hit the deck hard, not good. Bent derailleur and hanger. More sitting in/jumping off bike over and over again while fine tuning it with the frozen fist. Find the sweet spot and start pushing the pace again. We shed riders. Small group, Hollywood, Roeser, Ezra a couple others close. Push the pace on the little hills and test.
Mile 28 and I push on another rise, no real attack but the group strings out and I do not wait. Hollywood reacts but doesn't really close and I decide to do my own thing. Just over 20mph average for the 14 miles to Milltown (thanks again guys for supporting this) and a short stop for donut holes and maps. From there on out it felt a lot like a regular Wednesday these last couple months, just with a lot more glances over the shoulder. Easy to make a mistake, 50+ miles alone with your own head. Count-down began in earnest around mile 60 but so did the melting. Had to pee but made myself hold it in case I needed to "flush" the drivetrain.
Finish line at 12:52 and very happy to be back. Ready for a great rachel sandwich and a couple of fine beers at Harry's.
Saturday I got to ride twice and hang out with my daughter a ton. It was a bit icy out there but I rode the CX bike with regular tires for the first ride to get a little speed. Then later I rode the fatbike with Kim. I considered heading out to Stagecoach and seeing how the ATV trails were, but already knew the condition of the trail right by my house. Franz and I had been out there both Wednesday and Thursday nights from 11-12 or so and it was my kind of fatbike conditions. Despite the relatively cold temperatures the snow was melting fast and when the snow goes that reverts to lame blacktop so decided to hit it when it could be hit.
yup, I've only really got one fatbike trick
At the time was thinking that riding in the river was a sure sign of spring finally really getting spring here...
Sunday meant up early and off to Hills. After last weeks (scroll down) non-race I was really happy to hear that it was going to be relatively warm and that the gravel was hard packed. Took a risk and packed only the Look.
Hadn't gotten to ride it since??? probably September.
Here is the Strava information
I attacked up the 4% or so grade after the very first turn. The pace just seemed low and I didn't want to go into the very fast/downhill/gravel back-section in a large group. I expected others to react and just hoped to string things out. I collected 15 or 20 seconds right away. At about the half-lap mark I saw that two riders had distinctly come clear of the group and were likely gaining on me. Decided to allow them to catch as I knew three of us would almost certainly stay away all day. We rode the next 5.5 laps all together. No action until past the mid-point of the final lap surprised me, I was most worried about being dropped on a hill and now there were none. Long paved headwind and some short bursts distanced one rider and again I was clear alone but I was totally out of breath (might have been better off getting less of a gap and not working quite so hard and then been able to hold it to the finish). From there it was cat and mouse with just two to the finish. I made final turn in second position and sat in the gutter until opening up the sprint, which was very hard for me as I had picked too hard a gear and the other ride was strong, but I was able to win by less than a bike throw. Last year at this same race I had felt the learning curve of moving up to 1/2/3 races pretty heavy, so this really felt great.
Took my prize money and some awesome gamjams jackets and headed off to a Mexican place in Cedar whichever on is nicer for Chicken Mole, green chilli and a 34 oz beer. Glad I had a co-pilot (driver) for the ride home.
Sunday was also St. Paddy's! Locals were out riding and partying it up and we decided to ride over and check out if any of the fun was still going on. Got to ride my other Lin Anderson painted frame for the first time in it's current iteration...
It will still need a stem with a touch more rise before it's ideal for singletrack but it's damn fun.
Today we have 2-3 inches of new snow already! Winter.
There were some interesting conversations on facebook and twitter yesterday.
This sums up what I've been thinking... I truly believe that the success of gravel shows that our road races have become lame (more than ANYTHING else) and that the way forward for both is together. I know when my dad raced on the road in the late 60s and 70s (albeit at a higher level) the routes were most similar to what we are now doing only on gravel. Both groups, gravel and road/USAC, could benefit if we can figure out how to take the benefits of each. The success of gravel shows that USAC needs to create more inspiring courses, while on the flip side without USAC someone is going to lose their house, we have to do unsavory fundraising, we are more or lessed "used" by the industry (who obviously don't care about our "free" ethos) and we are doing no service to future cyclists/junior racers. I could go into a lot more detail. I guess I should probably work toward making something happen in line with what I said there. Implied is that I view gravel through an athletic/competitive lens. I simply do not believe that anyone who takes the time to attend an event truly doesn't want to do their best and have a fun/fair/interesting but still competitive environment. Perhaps you can get people like that to show up once a year. The other types of people will eventually mark "gravel century" off their list and try crossfit, color runs or tough mudders next season instead.
Never would have thought it would still be fatbike weather this time of year!
Have gotten out for three basically "bonus" fat rides recently. Super fun/challenging conditions all over the place. Highlights were riding last night with Franz over some barely boot packed, crusty snow and today over thin ice for miles of snowmobile trail. Getting antsy to switch over to keeping track of my rides in miles, but so long as we are stuck in hour mode I couldn't ask for a better companion than my Pugnago.
Pre-riding of the course is limited to the first two kilometers of the race where the course is on Telemark property. This section will also be the final 2K of the race. No fat bike riding is allowed on the Birkie Trail system, outside of Telemark, except on race day. We appreciate your cooperation!
New Event on the Birkie Trail!
The new Fat Bike Birkie provides a once-a-year chance to ride your fat bike or mountain bike on the groomed American Birkebeiner Trail. Fat bikes and mountain bikes are otherwise not allowed on the snow covered, groomed trail system.
Snow Conditions and Course
The Birkie Trail usually receives fresh snow during March and goes through a daily thaw and freeze cycle, resulting in a very compacted snow base great for Spring skiing. The ABSF continues to groom for cross country skiing during this time.
We believe these conditions will allow the Fat Birkie Birkie race to take place without damage to the trail. If conditions such as an early thaw occur and damage to the trail appears possible, the race course will be moved to neighboring forest roads.
Snow and trail conditions before the Birkie ski race in February can be softer and more vulnerable to damage. For that reason, and because of the far greater numbers of people skiing on the trail, Fat biking on the Birkie Trail system is not permitted at any other time during the winter.
The long and shorter Fat Bike Birkie races will take place on the northern half of the Birkie Trail system, between Telemark Resort and the "OO" trail head. Cross country skiing will be available on the Birkie Trail south from "OO" on race day. The northern trails will be regroomed Saturday night, following the Fat Bike Birkie, and available for skiing the next day and through the remainder of the ski season.
We post trail reports all during ski season at Birkie.com and on Facebookand will continue to do so up to the Fat Bike Birkie to keep you well informed. Trail reports will be posted on this page as well.
What is Fat Bike?
Wide rims, extra-large tires, and weirdly-dimensioned frames to make it all fit together define a Fat Bike, a cycling subcategory that’s garnered a serious following now in 2012. Bike shops report selling out of fat-bike stock.
What is the appeal? From improved traction on dirt to flotation when riding through snow, the obese tires let a bike roll where it has not rolled before. The wide rubber — some fatty tires are 4+ inches across, or twice as wide as most mountain-bike tire tread — adds notable grip on the ground, and the extra surface area does not allow the wheel to sink as much into soft surfaces like snow or sand.
Special Note: Bikes on the Birkie
One-Time Use Only
Fat Bikes or any other kind of bike are not allowed on the Birkie Trail when
snow is present. Our priority is giving skiers the best possible experience
all winter. The Birkie Fat Bike is a one-day exception to this rule.
Sign up and get your gear to the start line for the one day when bikes can ride the groomed Birkie trails!
Participant Numbers Limited
Be One of Only 300 People to Participate in this First-Ever Birkie Event!
The Fat Bike Birkie event is limited to 300 riders, of which no more than 50 riding non-Fat mountain bikes. These bikes must have a minimum tire diameter of 2.1". All Fat Bikes must have 3.7" diameter or greater. This requirement will be evaluated at the event by the sizes indicated on the tires used.
Tire Size Requirements
Fat Bikes must have 3.7" diameter or greater. Mountain Bikes must have a minimum tire diameter of 2.1"
* This requirement will be monitored at the event
by the sizes indicated on the tires used.
Race Flyer or warning? 50/50 by my estimation.
I skipped the "fatbike birkie" event. I found the "once a year opportunity to pay to be honored to ride a short race on the pristine and beautiful birkie course that is too good for people on bikes" a bit off-putting. I'm pretty stoked on fatbikes, but I think I'd prefer to leave the birkie trail to the skiers and just open up more actual mountain bike trails to fatbikes, have some races like those that I never seem to make it to up at hillside, that kind of thing. Feel free to tell me otherwise in the comments, but this thing sounded a bit like having a road race on golf cart paths. That combined with the condescension towards bikes that I (being the opinionated asshole that I am) read into the birkie website with regards to their thing.
My fatbike birkie was the day of the actual birkie...
"There are no acheivements on this ride"
I had a lot of fun and got to see a ton of the race plus ride some great roads. I spent almost as much time watching the skiers as I did riding so it was a very tough day nutritionally and warmth wise. I definitely left with a new appreciation for the skiing event!
It was amazing how many people commented on and/or were excited about my bike. I know that a some local companies were there promoting their fatbike wares the day before. Lots of people who had never seen one until then I think... Also a lot of people who were very interested. I wish I had a product to sell them.
This is one of the many awesome fire roads in the area... why grovel to ride the birkie trail when this is just there, waiting?