Last week got away from me, in many ways. It seems like since the start of the new year I have just been treading water. Not in a bad way, but I have definitely been busier with work and home stuff, which is the way I would have it in the winter doldrums. That said being prepared is a dicey subject when you don't really have a ton of free time to plot, plan and connive.
So I missed the start of last weeks Cold Bear Challenge Snow Bike Race. By a lot. Like I started 10 minutes after the unicyclists (yes. Unicycles in the snow. You will just have to believe me. (edit I found footage)). I actually asked someone that looked like they had some authority if I could just jump in, and they acquiesced. So I started chasing.
Given the relatively mild winter that we have had this year I have not really taken the fat bike thing very seriously. Apathy would best describe my feelings towards fat bikes. The conditions have got to be pretty bad to make me want to ride a 35 lb bike with 10lbs of weight in the wheel-set. But I really haven't tried it so I will not knock it.
Anyway, I started late which meant that I had to ride through most of the intermediate field. The LCR crew had us riding the Hillside trails backwards, which was actually a lot of fun. After a half lap I really started moving through the field. I was SS'ing and was pushing a pretty good gear ratio, so I found myself really powering out of the corners and on the inclines. By the end of the first lap I was passing people pretty steady, and then it really thinned out, as the intermediate class only turned one lap. The second lap was pretty solitary. I could tell that I was getting tired as it became harder and harder to hold the lines in the snow and I found myself struggling to keep my front wheel out of the chunder. I managed to catch Eddie Karow, a fellow Battle Creek-er, about a mile from the finish. The result was not what I wanted, but given the fact that I started so late, I was pleased with the ride time. Its fun to ride when you have no where to go in the field but up. Plus a nice lady was offering pulls from a bottle of Jameson at the top of a run up. It was 15 degrees remember, gotta keep the blood thin. Once I finished I handed one of the timers a $10, and thanked them for letting me jump in. They even scored me
Here is some of the Footage that Todd Trembley captured from the Cold Bear Challenge (there is snow Municycling.....brace yourself).
So this weekend I decided to keep it close to home, instead of driving down to Rochester for the unnamed Almanzo ride. I actually made that decision at about 0630. Drive 3 hours and ride for 4 hours on icy roads, or sleep in, Watch the CX World Championships, then ride to Carver Lake for the first installment of the Cold Catfish Cup TT series.
So I decided to stick close to home for some Carver Lake singletrack racing. I really felt like this was the first time this year where there was a well defined advantage to being on a fat bike. I say that not because there was any real advantage as far as being able to go fast, but because the wide tires let you be less judicious about where you put your wheel. I was on my SS with Maxxis 2.1's inflated to about 22 psi. I was able to ride just about everything, but had to be so tense and focused about where I put the front wheel. Since Carver Lake is relatively new singletrack it still has a lot of slightly off-camber trail surface, and if my skinny front wheel got even the tiniest bit off the hard pack snow, a washout was imminent.
Reed and the Angry Catfish Crew sent us off in 30 second intervals, based on how we registered. I went off about 10th and caught my 30 second man about a mile in. Even though the ST is pretty tight and twisty, all of my passing events were smooth and I tried to be courteous.
I managed to not seriously pile it up, and did not get passed but on the last lap I could tell that there was a dude the was putting some serious time into me.
I was pleased with that result, but I came to a conclusion. Riding a fat bike in the snow is like being on a 5 inch travel bike on XC singletrack. You just don't have to worry about anything. Its not a big deal if your line is not perfect, as opposed to when you are on a skinny bike you are trying to stay on a route that is 10 inches wide. I felt like I was having to go sooooo slow to make sure that I kept my front end out of the chunder. It was also a little annoying on the 2nd lap as everything got chewed up. it takes a ton of composure to stay seated and grind up the climbs on the SS without the rear end breaking loose, and I could definitely feel my composure starting to wain as fatigue set in.
I just now found some footage that Heath Weisbrod took on his way to winning yesterday.
It made me think of the conversation I had with Dennis Grelk one time about how doing 10 mph on a snow bike felt like you were on a rocketship. Heath is going so fast in this video, its really kind of scary. I hope that DG is staying warm at the Arrowhead
This almost makes me want a snow bike........