Posts Tagged ‘fatbiking’

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.

I hate the ‘in between’ seasons.  Either it’s cold but not cold enough for substantial snow accumulation or it’s starting to warm but hasn’t fully melted away the white stuff to reveal the dirt below.  When I’m in ‘THE’ season, it’s like magic all day (and sometimes the night) long.  It’s the real winter season and my local trails are fully groomed snow covered singletrack fun.  All summer long I look forward to this time of year.  It takes me a few weeks to get into the new routine. Pulling out the winter clothes, regularly charging batteries for all the night rides, fatbike in order, dog collar batteries replaced, etc. By January I’ve gotten it all down and I’m usually cruising 4 days a week. 

There is no doubt that the people who ride or talk with me while I’m on the multipurpose trail system that I am in cloud 9 while out there. The beauty of snow covered trees and headlight lit trails at night light up my soul. I’m so grateful for the addition of the motorized trail maintenance we now have.  Hopefully my snowshoes will never be used again.

The past few years snowbiking has exclusively been my training leading up to 24 Hours in The Old Pueblo.  Training at +8000′ with approximately 150′ gained per mile rode plus the additional resistance that 5″ tires give offer a great advantage.  I can usually gage myself by how many Strava trophies I’m acquiring. But as it is when you age, those  virtual awards  become harder to beat. So constantly getting a 2nd or 3rd best time (along with any riding partner saying that there must be a motor in my bike) is usually a good indicator of fitness. 

One more month before I get some sun in the desert but till then I’m going to soak up as much snow as I can.

The forecasted storm for this past weekend, upwards of 10″ of snow, never materialized at my latitude/longitude. It did snow some, maybe a couple inches, but the constant drizzle of rain and cold temps sucked. Prior to the ‘Storm’ I was up snowshoeing with my dogs, a friend, and his son. Under calm conditions and deep snow it was a treat. 
Of course Lily could only think of how big a stick she could carry.

Then Thursday afternoon came with rain and sleet. Followed by more of the same on Friday. Yuck and double yuck. 

Waking up Saturday and looking outside at snow flying sideways with the wind I made the decision to stay indoors as the temperature never crested freezing. 

Sunday warmed up under sunny skies and I felt confident that the trails would be passable. Lol, who was I kidding, I fully expected to turn around at the first full road mud moat that often happens when the snow melts fast.  To my delight the dirt roads were rideable. I dodged the mud holes to stay as dry/clean as possible. Thoughts came in my head ” do I climb to Buford or ride through Gowdy? Dirt or snow/mud?”  I chose Gowdy singletrack. 

There was rideable trails and snow.

And not so rideable snow

I had fun nonetheless. It was probably about 75-25% ride vs hike on the trails. But beautiful regardless 

The weather looks good for the next week.  I’m going to enjoy it. Next weekend I’m going to the Wyoming state bowling championships in Lander. Maybe I’ll bowl a 300… Over three games.

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Arizona Trail Race, 300 miles of fun and suffering on 4″ tires
Let me preface this by stating this was my first ever bikepacking race. I have only
Parker Canyon lake, 0700 I awoke from my bivy with the others and slowly started the repacking of the bags. 2 hours prior to go time. Tony, Josh, and I had been dropped off the day prior by Steve Osborn. A cyclist, like many, that delighted in watching the blue dots of the riders on with the desire to one day compete in the race itself. Bags packed, water loaded we made our way from the campground to the start a few uphill miles away. By the time we arrived, the faster ‘alien class’ 750 mile riders were already rolling through having started earlier from the Mexican border. A few good morning greetings and before long race director Scott Morrison was giving last minute instructions.
The descent down “Gear Check” hill seemed smoother than the first time I rode it and I settled into a good pace. The first 30 miles are a seemingly endless mix of rocky steep hills and washes. Following my belief that you can’t finish if your body and bike break, I practiced good judgment by walking down the nasty stuff. Watching El Freako launch over the bars on one downhill only reinforced that thinking. 4.5 hours in I rolled into Patagonia and grabbed a coke and headed to Sonoita for ‘real’ food and a break. I had to stop a few times on the hwy to stretch my cramping legs. Something I heard quite a few riders had to do. I Grabbed some food at the Sonoita market and put my legs up for a bit and discovered a clean 2.5″ cut in the outer casing of my front Husker Du. Visual inspection showed no cords cut, and tubeless integrity intact. This slight issue would weigh heavily on my mind over the next 270 miles. I was determined to finish and rode more cautiously and slower than I would have had this been a normal trail ride. Onto the Kentucky Camp section. A bunch of gravel roads and up/down singletrack lead to KC and some great tasting water. I didn’t waste much time topping off and shortly after nightfall I passed Elliot, a 750 rider on the trail enjoying a dinner break. It was a good idea because after that the trail got fun and fast. All the way to the I-10 underpass. After crossing under I expected more of the same all the way to the Sevilla picnic area and a water fill-up. Wrong expectations as the trail would be rough, not so flowy, and much slower than hoped. I made it there around 1am and went looking for the spigot in the rock. Having found the spigot, I sat, ate, and contemplated pushing on to an area 10-15 miles further. While I was sitting there trying to decide if it was worth it, the El Freako express with Dan, Josh, and Jen in tow rolled in. Liking the suggestion of sleeping a few hours before pressing on to the Rincon Market, we bedded down. I slept on the edge of a shelter that everyone was under and woke up to rain on my face just in time to see Tony come rolling in. According to him, I shooshed him pretty loudly for making noise and he rolled on and I fell back to sleep encased in my SOL bivy.

I did a little piece for prior to my AZT300 attempt. Check it out here
Bikepackers Magazine

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.

wpid-wp-1391127153032.jpegView of Grand Targhee from across the valley

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.


Yampa crew and one moonlander

wpid-20140118_131617.jpg2nd place smile

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.

P1020655 P1020672

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

It’s been an interesting month December.  In Wyoming I’ve always dreaded the “off season”.  Hellacious wind, bitter cold, no desire to ride, early sunsets… you get the point.  But this time is different. 2 important things happened to me.  First, I “discovered” winter riding on trails a 25 min drive away.  They’ve always been there, I just never thought of riding there in the winter.  Second, I got news that Hammer Nutrition has selected me for athlete sponsorship for 2014. My training log (thanks Strava) shows that I am riding 4 days a week at an average of nearly 3 hours each.  This number is steadily going up.  Going back a couple years, I have never logged this much time in December.  Motivation of racing starting in 3 weeks on snow and less than 2 months til 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo probably has something to do with it.  Of course the fun trails isn’t everything (it’s a big part of it though), there is also the new gear.  Wolvhammer boots, Fat Carbon race wheels, lights, and proper winter dressing (thanks Salsa/JayP). Then the added benefit of sponsorship by a company whose products have turned my endurance training and racing around the last few years, Hammer Nutrition.  I can’t say enough good things about them and their products, I was literally a walking Hammer rep without getting paid.  Well I’m not technically getting paid, but they are making it easier financially on my supplement expenses.  If whoever reads this blog wants some advice, I can let you in on my fueling program for long races. Just comment.

Suffice it to say, I now want winter to last forever….Well until late spring, I’d like the Colorado mountains dry during the Colorado Trail Race.

May all your rides be filled with joy and new experiences,


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.

10 degrees

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

This has to have been the best Thanksgiving weekend in recent memory as far as weather goes. Temps and winds were “comfortable” and I got more riding in than I thought I would.  Snow is packed on the summit west of me making the ride on the fat bike fun.  The lower elevations are clear and mostly dry.  Just around the corner snow, much colder temps, and the dreaded wind are visible.  Dressing like the Michelin Man is almost upon us.  It was a great warm spell while it lasted.  Next stop SNOW!

Dogs had fun on Thursday



2 hour Summit ride near dusk with Coach T


T on a 29er,  waiting on the Speshy Fatboy

T on a 29er, waiting on the Speshy Fatboy

 Soapstone Prairie / Red Mountain, last day of the season.  The Happy Jack Cycling crew got in one last ride


Red Mtn and Dan K wishing he had something other than a 19tooth cog

Red Mtn open spaceDan K wishing he had something other than a 19tooth cog



Working a normal job means training when I can.  This means in the dark and cold during winter weekdays.  The dark and snow provide a welcome change to the trails I ride regularly. Add in another rider or two, and it just adds to the fun.