Waking up to a beautiful Lake Superior. I ran out in the parking lot with my phone to get this shot. After some hotel breakfast food we got ready and heading to the South trail head around 8am.
If you have ever been to Marquette’s South trails you know you start by climbing “Bensons Grade”. Not much fun in the summer for me. Even worse in the winter. HR maxed out about 3 minutes into the ride. In the pic you can see how much new snow had fallen. I was taking a breather here. It took me at least 20 minutes to finish it.
Its wasn’t long into the ride that it was apparent the groom did not set up good enough for me to ride it. I was busting thru constantly. However several of the skinny guys were not having as much of a problem as I was. Once on top of Bensons Grade three of us decided to bail. We were just destroying the trails.
From the get go I knew this could happen. I weight 100 pounds more than some of the other guys. I was running 3 pounds of pressure, almost riding on my rim. I was not the only one as other “bigger” guys also stopped. We were all a bit upset but I have been dealing with this scenario for years. Im a big guy in a skinny guys world. We flipped it, the others continued.
Here is what a fresh groom looks like. 15 miles of this. Just imagine this as hard as cement. Blasting thru the woods. Unfortunately I’ll have to imagine it also. We headed back to the lot to decide what to do. We could go back to the north trails I guess. By the time we returned to the lot there had to be at least 30 bikes being unloaded. I would guess 20 more in the trail. So Sunday had at least 50 bikes out. Thats something we dont see at home.
We decided not to hit up the north trails again and just tool around on the city paths. Taking in some local flavor. In time the others returned and said they struggled in the soft snow at times. But did a complete loop.
As I type this I gatta say I am disappointed. But you cant control trail conditions. Things would have been fine had it not snowed so much the nite before. I guess it can be compared to coming here in the summer and having it rain for three days.
This genre of bike riding is as dependent on weather as the summer MTBing. Maybe more. No snow and you dont even need the fat tires. Too much and its tough sledding. With this stuff we are in the same boat as the XC skiers. That perfect groom needs to have a lot happen to make it. Temp, humidity and cloud cover etc.
Im still glad we went. Its a trip we will do again and again. We had 8 bikes this year, maybe we will have 18 next year.
Next year? Hell, I’ll be back in two weeks for the Fatbike World Championship.
Im doing the shorter 24k race on Sunday. Im hoping they will regroom after the races on Saturday. This will be on the ski trail, not on South trails singletrack so Im thinking the chances of good conditions are high.
So in closing, if you are a cyclist who owns a fatbike you owe it to yourself to get your ass up to Marquette. I may have had issues with soft snow last weekend, but that will not stop me from getting up there many times in the future.
Riding rock hard groomed singletrack thru snow filled trees is a feeling that cant be described. Its like riding a bike for the first time…again. And in 10 days I will leaving for good ol’ Marquette once again.