Posts Tagged ‘fatbike’

When I first saw a fat bike, I thought wtf? A year later I rode one in a parking lot and thought about the possibilities. Then I bought one and haven’t picked up my skate skis since. Well, I have moved then around a bit, but that doesn’t count. I rode that bike though the winter and decided to race it in my first multi-day bike race, the 300 mile AZT300. Then I rode my Blacksheep custom Singlespeed fatbike in every race that year. I was addicted. After a fusion of 2 Cervical disks, I decided it would be best to leave the rigid SS community. Summers are spent on one of my full suspension bikes and winters are reserved for my fat bike. It’s a lonely time when the ground is still dry and the temps are cold. I really prefer the ground to be covered in snow before I put the fat tires out. Plus it just feels weird now. I’m blessed to have, IMO, one of the best fat biking areas around at the Pole Mountain / Happy Jack trail system.

I think often about how Fat Biking has changed how I look at the Wyoming winters. I used to sit on an indoor trainer, now I hit the trails as much as possible.

It’s strange now that I have 2 ‘I dislike to ride’ seasons. One after October-ish and another when the temps warm and the snow is soft.

For now, I’m happy to be riding on cold snow. I’ll hit the dirt north of Tucson next month at 24HOP (not racing this year) but will be back on snow again the next week.

Indoor training with Zwift may or may not be needed depending on trail conditions before racing in May. I can only hope the snow continues.

2015, after a year of riding fat tires and Singlespeed in some big races (24 Hours in the Old Pueblo, AZT300, Salida BFL, Laramie Enduro, Crested Butte Classic) to some fantastic results, I’m changing gears and going to be riding gears and full suspension on a Salsa Spearfish RS1. I still will hit the trails every now and then on my beloved Black Sheep custom Fatbike, but will primarily be on gears to see what the big deal is 😉.

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And I’m proud to again be representing Hammer Nutrition as a Brand Ambassador. They produce the best all encompassing nutritional products available for endurance athletes and even without representing them I would still use and recommend them to anyone I coach or is looking for a solution to fueling issues in long races.

WyoracerX-Hammer On!

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July 15 2014, the Classic took on a new date slot moving from late September/October to July to avoid cancellation due to snow (like last years race) and to let riders enjoy more daylight and a warmer start. 2 out of 3 isn’t bad as there was still some snow on trail 403 supposedly that caused a last minute change in the course. I, for one, was fine with the trails north off Gothic left out. The brake smoking decent off 403 to Gothic road will wait for another classic. I did miss the ascent of Slate d’Huez though.

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This years starting field was relatively small compared to previous editions where a waiting list starts filling soon after the first 74 entrants have listed their intentions to commit to the Classic. The first 74 usually fills in February shortly after race date announcement, tentative or not. It’s that fun of a race. Many riders only attempt the first loop, it’s that hard.
This years race totaled ~108 miles +12500′ of climbing. I ended up getting 115 miles due to a few miscues.
My bike of choice for this year was my beautiful Black Sheep Phat Speedster SS

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The race starts at Brick Oven Pizzeria downtown CB. The 30-40 riders were dressed fairly light as the morning temps were in the upper 50s. Much nicer than previous years where temps have been as low as the mid 20s.

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My bottles packed with Hammer Perpetuem and HEED we rolled out of town to the first loop, Strand-Teocalli Ridge-Canal. I opted to take the first loop easy by riding along with another rider from Cheyenne on his first attempt at a Classic Epic.

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The first loop was a blast, big mountains, long climbs/descents, epic views, and big and little water crossings.

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if you zoom in you might just see Mike in the middle of the photo

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After the start of Teocalli, I pushed on knowing Mike would indeed finish the first loop. Racing down the sweet descent off Teo I came up on a rider with a torn sidewall at the bead. Life was going to be sucking for him. He was on a 26er, no spare tube, no sewing kit or anyway to patch it up to keep on riding. He had none of this stuff yet his pack was twice the size of mine. Go figure. At least it was all downhill to the road.
I completed the lap and said hi to Mike’s girlfriend, telling her he was doing great and that he could stop and enjoy the day (like so many others were doing). He already had an epic in the books as far as I could tell.
Perpetuem bottles and a few gels replenished, I headed out on the next loop with Dominic L. This guy has a motor that just runs forever. He just pedals on and hardly anything bothers him (from what I can tell). We take to the highway that leads us to an area I’ve wanted to ride at but have yet to, South Crested Butte (South CB for short). When we start up Cement Creek rd I bid adieu to Dom as I’m riding a singlespeed and uphill is much easier at my pace. The road goes on forever. I even get to see the leader, Kelly Magelky as he is rolling downhill enroute back to CB. Eventually I hit dirt and the road gets steeper. I come across a guy in a meticulously clean 4×4 that I move over for and wave by. But he just stops on the road and jumps out of the driver side. Uh-oh I think. Then he asks me if I’m in the Classic.
Relieved I reply yes, and he starts snapping photos. I wish I knew who it was because I’d like to get a copy of them pics. Another mile or so and I reach the top of Reno. There is a group of motos and a couple cyclists that aren’t in the Classic standing around. I ride forward to a trail sign that says Flag. That’s all I needed to go straight down an insane multi-use trail that drops a bunch of elevation. I rip it on my Fatbike eventually catching another rider. We rode together flying along the sweet singletrack. Eventually coming across a trail intersection. I had no gps track of the area and for whatever reason, incorrectly assumed we should continue downhill. A couple or so miles later he slashes a sidewall in a muddy crossing, his second flat of the day. A couple of moto riders come through a gate and we ask how far to the road. This is when we discover that we should not have continued downhill. He pulls out his map, and I do a quick assessment and realize our turn was “way back up there”. There wasn’t much I could do for him as my fat tube was not going to fit his 29er. He said he was ok and I pressed on back onto the course. Interesting was that I passed a sign indicating I was on course now and 6 miles from the road. Lies, all lies; it was 10 miles to the road and after the climb (it was turning slick from a slight precipitation that had been going on for bit now) there was a steep switchback decent that led to the biggest water crossing of the race. Thank God there was a rope to hold onto. As with several previous crossings, I removed my shoes and socks. It was pretty fast and the bike floated due to the 4″ tires, pulling me downstream. I was relieved when I finally got to the other side.
Shoes on, I motored down the descent to the highway back to CB.
Now the whole while I had only intended on riding the first 2 laps, but the conversation with Dom was that I have to finish. I was the only Singlespeeder. I still felt relatively good when I rolled up to my truck and decided that I would go on and finish. ~25 miles left and 3 hours of daylight, how hard could it be? The check-in even asked if I had lights. I did, but had figured I could ride the last loop w/out the need for them.
It started thundering and eventually drizzling as I made my way up the pass enroute to Dyke trail. I had ridden this loop in the past but in a group and was not remembering much after I turned onto the road to the lake. By now I had put on my rain jacket as the rain had increased. Encountering the lake I headed around the SW corner on the road looking for the trail. After some climbing on the road, I decided that I must have missed the TH and with the increasing rain and no lights decided it best to head home for the dnf. On the descent I came across Dom again. I flipped a U and asked if he knew where the trail was and if he had lights that I could follow. Yes on both, we proceeded back up from where I came…all the way. 100′ past where I had previously turned around was a TH sign showing Dyke trail. A couple expletives later I join Dom on the slick trail. So slick was the traIl at times that riding uphill was not possible and walking even less. Slog and cussing later we eventually made it to the road. The uphill to the pass was much longer than we had remembered. I was suffering a bit by this time. And was only thinking of getting over the pass, down the other side and getting warm. Shivering is not fun, especially when you have a 9 mile descent in the cold. We rolled into the Brick Oven as the last 2 finishers.
14 hours 43 minutes, 115 miles. I was shivering uncontrollably and needed warmth. Mike brings me a heavy jacket and someone from the Oven got me a hot chocolate. I eventually warmed up enough to have a beer and someone offered me his leftover pizza. Life was better now.

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My bike in dire need of a wash.
On Sunday, my dogs got full attention for their patience in letting me ride all day Saturday.

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We went on an easy ride after I washed the bike up to a beautiful cirque off Slate road. Paradise

I had this crazy idea many months ago that doing a 24 hour race in February would spark the fitness training Tony and I would need to be in shape for the AZT300 in April. With Tony’s SS and my fat bike and an Airstream we headed down south of Tucson the week before our duo 24 hour attempt to scope out a few segments of the AZT to see how bad it was.

We found our way to the Palmer lake trailhead before noon and headed out on what would be a day of riding and hike-a-biking that took longer than we were expecting. And instead of an out and back we settled for a road ride back to camp.

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It was an eye opener for sure.
Next day we tackled the Reddington road section and checked out our off course support options. Reddington and the 4wd rodeo section that followed was not fun in the heat of the day and I was pretty much out of water by the time we got back to the truck

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AZT mini view done we hauled the Airstream to the race venue where we were told it would open up to camping at noon on Thursday. What we found was that people had been parking trailers here since the previous weekend and it was looking pretty full by normal standards. We found a spot and discovered it would be a madhouse the next day when every inch of space would be a battleground for incoming RVs.

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I was content to ride one lap and say hello to a bunch of people. Tony wanted to see the course at night and while I hung out at the Back of the Pack Racing tent eating chips and drinking beer, he took in the night air and all the scary cacti that wanted a piece of his hide.
I had devised a loose game-plan on what it would take to put us on the podium. Logistics of everything available for each other’s downtime between laps to be most efficient with our time. Charging stations and food/gear hung from an over-the-door shoe organizer

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With our nutritional items at the ready.
We both got a good nights sleep on Friday waking up rested for the next +26 hours we would both be awake for.
Oh yeah, I drew the short straw and got the honor of being the rider to start off first. Which wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t a half mile run to the bike with everyone else, choking down dust and tripping over each other in cycling shoes.
1200 noon, off running I go. I rode fairly quickly and had one of my fastest laps, that included my run time. Baton handed off I rolled back to camp to the start of what be my routine for the next 24 hours. Shoes off, Hydrate, eat, rest, shoes on, bike back to transition tent to await Tony. The first time he came in I never heard our rider number called out and got the stink eye from Tony when I heard him yelling my name, oops sorry.
We were clicking along nicely after that and had moved up to 8th place before midnight. By 3am we were in 6th hot on the heels of the next team when Tony told me one of the teams had lost a rider and would probably stop and sleep soon, bonus! Everything had been going well for us until my 4:30 lap when I lost all power. I had been clocking 1:10 – 1:15 lap times up till then. This one ended up 1:27. I had no idea what had happened and Tony was worried that I was done. Whatever happened, I bounced back the next lap, much to the relief of my teammate. We were in a virtual tie for 5th place at this point and every second counted. Tony continued to pile on fast laps and come in with an advantage and I’d try to hold it. I had calculated that it would take 19 laps to finish on the podium, and at the current pace I would have the honor of riding the last lap, the 19th. If we could keep the pressure on the other team we’d have our podium. Tony came in @10:49am meaning, unless I turned a lap faster than 1:11, he wouldn’t have to ride another lap. I rode a fast lap, spurred on by keeping up with KRefs as we flew through the first half of the course, 1:13 by my estimation, and arrived at the conga line to the finishing tent officially crossing in 1:17. Tony greeted me with a beer and I was all smiles.

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It was hard to describe how I felt. Jubilant joy. 19 laps, over 300 off-road miles ridden between the 2 of us, 5th place Male Duo team, riding a Fatbike and a Singlespeed just to make it interesting.

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WordPress on my Android tablet has me baffled so I didn’t realize this wasn’t posted til a week ago when I had no internet to work with anyway.

So…  a Month ago I was enjoying perfect snow conditions for a Fat Bike race at Grand Targhee.  An awesome course on a dual use groomed XC ski trail at the resort. The race was in Wyoming but the only way to get there was through Idaho.  Everything was perfect, including the weather.

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I managed 2nd place in the 30k race, getting beat by some college kid half my age. I hope enough people get into this soon so they can start age grading results, this is getting harder the older I get.  Regardless, the whole experience was a blast for my first fat race.

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Yampa crew and one moonlander

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On to my second fat bike race.  Como Colorado, Colorado state Fat Bike Championships.
ER and I drove down the day before the race and all we saw was green.  Green as in grass.  Where the eff is the snow?  This went on all the way to 10000′ as we drove up to the race venue that had on-site accommodations.  I asked the caretaker that was out where all the snow was.  He assured me that there was plenty in the trees.  Erm, ok.
We unloaded our gear and dressed for a course inspection at night.  Within the first half mile we both agreed that the course was going to fall apart quickly under the tires of 80 riders.
Message to all fat bike race organizers… if you are planning on riders riding, GROOM THE EFFING COURSE WEEKLY IF NOT MORE ALL THE WAY UP TO RACE DAY. Nobody enjoys running with their bikes. Rant over
Even though the the course was “rideable” up to the first rider, the rest of us struggled.
I lined up on the front row, said hi to those around me and got ready to roll.  3,2,1 we’re off, uphill start to a hike a bike.  Immediately there was a problem with every rotation of my front wheel.  Something stuck in my brake rotor.  I pull off and stopped to fix whatever was stuck in it.  Rotating the wheel backwards cleared the problem and I was off again.  I hit the hill in 22nd place.  Upon exiting the trail maze I was greeted by a friendly voice informing me that I was in 8th place.  4 more laps to go.  It was a hard rest of the race in which the course deteriorated to the point that it was maybe 20% rideable.  All my friends thought better it better to dnf and egg me on than continue the dumbness.  Race was eventually shortened to 4 laps and I finished up in 6th place after trading places with Nat Ross (5th) for most of the last lap.  Not sure I’ll ever race on an unprepared snow course again.  Running just isn’t my favorite thing.

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Rocky Mountain Fat Bike series

Snowy Range race was a week later.  Held at the Snowy Range Ski Resort west of Laramie.

It was a night race so I was able to rest up and sleep in.  No early morning wakeups for this race.

Things started out wrong when I discovered my truck battery dead when I already was loaded and ready to head out.  Lucky for me I have an AWD Mini Countryman that has an aftermarket hitch mounted on it for my bike rack.  Not so lucky was the fact that I still had on my summer tires and the course was expecting more snow and colder temps that would nearly wreck me as I drove into the icy parking area dodging departing skier vehicles.

The course had  a huge climb to start every lap.  Fast downhill and then into singletrack for the second half of the course.  There would be some walking on the uphill as the combination of new snow conditions and the steepness of the climb  warranted it.  I was none too happy with my back brake as it was in need of a bleed (Avid Elixers of course)

Lights on, racers ready… bang.  3 laps of  this course to complete.  I rode moderately fast and eventually rode off most of the riders on the uphill.  Only the winner, Adam L, was able to out climb me on the first lap.  Descending controlled and smooth, I discovered I barely had any rear brake at all.  “uh-oh, this is not going to end well if I have to use only my front brake”, I thought to myself.  I got through the first lap and was being chased by Jesse S.  I put in another big effort on the climb to hold him off and threw caution to the wind on the descent.  I lost it on a steep left hander when I couldn’t slow down enough due to lack of brakes.  Flipping over off into the deeper off-piste snow, Jesse came roaring by as I stood up and took stock of everything and set off after him.  He easily got away as I was having to really be careful as to no pick up too much speed going the rest of the way down.  I crashed a few more times on the single-track trying to keep it close.

By now 4th place had closed in and we hit the final lap’s climb together.  I knew from all my training that this hill suited me and after getting a gap before the walking section, I drilled it upon hoping back on my bike.  I kept it upright and took it very conservative on the single-track knowing he would have to chase hard to catch me.  When I finally hit the open and was able to get a good look back I was relieved to see no headlights chasing.  1/2 mile later I was crossing the line to another podium finish for the year.

Next Race: 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo

Wow, what a difference good gear makes when riding in cold temperatures.  I’ve long suffered from Raynauds in the cold which makes it all the worse. Embracing the spirit of winter fat biking and with good reviews on the web for warmth while still being able to clip into my regular CB Candys I ordered a pair of 45North Wolvhammers.

Wolvhammer boots

Wolvhammer boots

Full retail, no discounts to be found $324.  They better work.  And they did, my second ride in them was for over 4 hours in temps not exceeding 11°F.  I will say they were cold by then but lasted hours beyond what I thought was possible.  Money well spent.

Another winter investment that is ESSENTIAL are pogies.  Marketed by numerous small vendors, mine are the Dogwood Designs standard versions.  I got my pair last year and it was the first step in venturing outdoors in sub freezing temps. The standards are warm enough that I only wear a lightweight liner glove and sometimes even that is too warm in +25°F.  I love these things and so do my fingers.

Now that SE Wyoming has had it’s first Artic air of the year and snow with it, I find myself riding more than I thought possible.  No more indoor trainer miles for me, even when it’s crazy windy (that’s +40mph to you non Wyoming riders).  The trees on the trails hide all that blowy wind and with my gear I find it quite enjoyable.

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Bring on the snow and the cold(well not too cold)

No Coco, injuries, new fat bike pt1

Posted: October 12, 2013 in Uncategorized
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So, maybe I shouldn’t make long range race plans. Every time I do something goes awry.  I had my mind set on the Coconino 250.  The motivation was there,  the legs were there, gear complete,  bring it on.  Then I crashed hard.  Stupid mistake that landed me in the ER with stitches on my face and left hand.Image

This did the most damage because I had to take 3 weeks off the bike and due to the injury I lost a lot of grip strength.  I decided Coco was a no go.

Post recovery I had a new bike to pick up and a friend from Indiana coming out for his annual pilgrimage to the land of beer and cycling.  Vacation. 

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Then it off to Colorado Springs to visit Borealis Bikes and pick up the new Yampa carbon Fat Bike.  Adam, Steve, and all were a group of guys that really enjoy what they are doing, bringing a kickass, carbon fat bike to the market first. I got to ride a few demo models including Adam’s personal 21lb carbon rimmed tricked out beauty.  All this while I had a tire on the Airstream that was on the verge of total destruction replaced by the nearby Goodyear tire shop.

 

It was off to see Garden of the Gods and take the new bike on its maiden voyage. Image

Somewhere in the ultra short 4 mile ride I picked up a thorn that produced a slow leak that had me airing up each morning, tubeless was going to have to wait til after vacation