Monday, February 4, 2013

Fat Bike Musing and Riding St. Croix River Ice

Last week Eddie K lent me his fat bike for an entire week. I had the opportunity to ride it in several different scenarios.  The first was at the Hillside race up in Elk River.  I did not do as well as I thought I should have, but I had the distinct feeling that to milk the most out of a fatbike you really need to be realistic about your expectations.  
  • If the snow is packed, its probably going to be faster on a narrow tire bike. 
  • Don't expect to accelerate rapidly.  you are pushing a lot of rubber around, capitalize on your inertia.
After getting input from Grelk, I realized that it might be best to utilize the utility of the Pugsley for exploration.  Enter Barry Tungseth: who hatched a plan to ride the St. Croix River north from Stillwater to Marine on St. Croix.There was only one other person dumb enough to join us, David Meyer of the Hub, Bike Cooperative.

A little preventative medicine for my first river ice experience
I will admit that I was scared to death at first, but Barry led the way. and we only saw open water once.

Once we got north of the High Bridge we just skirted the sand bars on the WI side of the river.

It was just so amazing to be out on a perfect day, seeing what no one else will ever witness on that day.

It was incredibly unnerving to look down through the ice and see the river bottom. You also would gauge the ice thickness by looking at the ice cracks......
 We were all on fat bikes, and tried to stay on the fringe of the river where there was some snow, as the ice could be incredibly treacherous.  That being said, I only fell a few times
Certain sections looked liked there had been a lot of Snowmobile traffic. Photo: David Meyer
Post Coffee/Pre bubble gut. Photo: David Meyer
We only had one incidence of breaking through the ice, and thankfully the water was only 20 inches deep. The hole was just big enough to sink a wheel into. Photo: David Meyer
Dave and Barry were great company and I would love to ride with them any time.  I also had some time to reflect on the utility of fatbikes.  I guess that I see the most utility for fat bikes off the beaten path.  I actually did not care for it on the single track, as I was used to super steep angles and fast acceleration.
We made Jasper a sweet school bus cake for his 2nd birthday.

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