Friday, December 23, 2016

Rolling a Fatty

Once you go fat, you will never go back
-most of my cycling friends

Pigs are flying at the moment. Really. I just purchased what I swore up and down for years, I would NEVER buy...a fat bike. Worse (or better) yet, this new acquisition is one of my most expensive bikes and it's not even all that utilitarian. I won't be using it on daily commutes to work (I'll still opt to ride my winter cross bike when the roads are dry since the tires are so freaking expensive to replace on my fat bike), and I won't use it in the summer other than mountain biking. So why did I do it? Friendly pressure from friends. Check. Guilt for not being able to play in all conditions with my friends. Check. Feeling isolated and left out when the proverbial white shit hits the fan. Check. Not being able to bike across the frozen lakes. Check. AND...not owning a mountain bike. Check. 

All of these "checks" got me searching this fall, or at least beginning the search quietly so most of my friends wouldn't know, for a new steed. One which would take up the space of two other normal steeds. After months of thinking about it, it ended up being almost too late when I decided to actually bite. You see, there's a very specific bike I had in mind due to my need of a narrower bottom bracket. My hips and knees don't like wide bottom brackets. So much so that I had to sell my beloved Salsa Fargo because fifty mile rides hurt like hell (not something you want on an off road touring bike). The Trek Farley was really the only fat bike that seemed to fit me and not hurt (although I still have to ride unclipped). For some reason or another, every other person buying a new fat bike must have wanted a Farley too since as of early December, they were almost all sold out--out of stores and out of the warehouse. This left me with a dilemma. I had to either wait until spring or summer to get a 9.6 or face the facts and just pony up the big bucks for a 9.8. Now let me explain I have no business purchasing a carbon fat bike. I mean really...this thing is totally lost on me except for the fact I'm a complete whiner when pushing through sand or snow and it's a bit lighter to haul over that stuff. Essentially, I don't deserve this bike. But it's mine, and I'll be damned if I let an amazing machine go to waste...especially since it's the first thing I've purchased for myself in ages. 

A few of you who know me, get the fact I name all of my bikes. This isn't a task taken lightly. The names just come to me: "Blue Velvet, UB40, White Moth etc". It bothers me when they don't name themselves through a whisper. When they do, I know they are mine. When this matte silver frame didn't talk to me, I got nervous. I thought "it's not the one for me", until a friend told me fat bikes don't disclose their name in warm environments (meaning in the bike shop). I laughed and decided to go with the flow on this one since I was too focused on not passing out while my friend, Jesse, at Machinery Row Bicycles, rang me up. 

I didn't pick the bike up until the following day since I had ridden down to pay for it...too nervous it would be sold out from under me if I waited another day. After work, I ran down (yes, how else is one supposed to pick up a bike?) 6.5 miles to alleviate it from its stuffy environment. While I placed my hands on its bars, it began to speak to me and reveal its name. Piglet came to the forefront of my brain. Don't ask how...that's the beauty of a bike naming itself. Other names that were given to me were Wampa and Skunk Ape. I liked them both but it had to be the bike's decision. A poorly named bike will never connect with its rider. Yes, I am "that" kind of cyclist and damn proud of it. Anyway, Piglet and I had a marvelous ride home through puddles and winter slush. I may have been smiling the entire way...I wouldn't know because I was either oxygen deprived from the run still or delirious with the idea I was actually a fat bike owner. Either way, I seemed really damn happy.

So Piglet and I decided to go out exploring early this morning. I had a gift delivery to do down the H8TR (known as the Badger State Trail to most) and since it's paved part way, and is snowmobile trail the rest of the way, I thought it would be a perfect true inaugural ride...until I hit the mashed potato like snow. Then, all I could do was think "This is really hard fucking work" and "Wait, I thought these 4.5" tires were supposed to roll over this shit". I was sweating so heavily, even dressed in just a thick long underwear shirt and a puffball vest, that for a moment I allowed the dreaded thought "WTF! I'm not into this, I'm going to sell it!" graze my mind. I showed up at my friends house,  and he most certainly saw the frustration on my face because he gave me coffee that resembled espresso and we rode back to Madison together. Funny. It's wasn't all that bad on the way back. Yes, it was hard work but the 10mph tailwind certainly helped. No, the snow hadn't firmed up but I laughed at my struggles vs. cursing them. Was is the caffeine buzz? Was it riding with a friend? Was it knowing exactly what to expect when I went out again? Who knows. All I knew was I wasn't going to sell it. I was going to dispel any former thoughts of going fast through snow and just suck it up for what it was, and I was going to enjoy being able to ride a snowy trail...on a bike...for the first time in my life. 

I got home. Ate copious amounts of food following 3.5 hours of moving time if you count the mountain bike trails I hit on the way back (a whole other story) and thoroughly enjoyed my well earned post ride beer. Tomorrow is a new day. A new day on the fatty. With several inches of fresh white stuff I'm sure the ride will pose new challenges. Let's hope they are as fun as today's!

*To all of my fat bike friends, THANK YOU! I am one of you now 😊

My friend, Johnnymac, hanging ornaments on the new "holiday tree"

Hitting the Seminole mountain bike trails







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