Some bike rides feel different than others even tho you’re doing the same thing at the same place as you have done a million times in the past. Today was one of those rides. For several reasons. First off, I love riding when its snowing like crazy. For sure this early in the morn I was first tracks in the woods and that always makes a ride feel a little bit cooler.
As I rode around in the woods, on near perfect trails, hard base under and a bit of fresh snow on top, I realized how much this fatbike thing has changed. Not nationally but locally, in a woods two miles from where I live.
I got my first fatbike in late 2009(ish). A Surly Pug. I knew there were a few in town but nobody I knew had one at the time. Still in its infancy the bike was mostly gawked at. There was a time I had it in the store’s front window and had to take it out because people had a million questions about the weird bike and we were spending hours upon hours explaining it and not getting any work done.
As today, my rides were alone blasting the woods and beach without any hint of a “groomed” trail. If I saw another set of tracks they were mine from entering the woods as I was leaving. I had a blast on that Pug. I know who still has it.
Anyway, fast forward 5 years. Today I grab the bike and hit the woods. Except I’m not the only one anymore. On today’s ride I was thinking back in the day if I wanted to have a rode in trail I had to do it myself. Today, without my help the trails were awesome. Well rode in without me. The fatbike community here has tripled in the last year.
Then again, I wonder why this took so long. Locally we have been winter riders for years. Well before I started riding in 2001. I remember winter beach rides of 20+ bikes. I remember I was the first to get a true “winter boot”. That being a Lake. So when these bikes came out we were already doing what they were meant to do. Just our tires were not so wide. Ive got a article Im writing about that winter history. More about that some other time. So even tho we were doing it for years, it did take about five years to really catch on here. Mainly, I think because now all the larger manufactures have them. Their easier to buy and available at any dealer for the most part. Now everybodys favorite bike company makes them.
And even tho I own a bike store I think its great that more dealers sell them. It make things possible like riding a perfect trail this morn without me having to ride it in personally. The more the merrier. But if you bought one from me I would not complain 🙂 Also as I was having a blast in the snow this morn I thought about the fact that this bike is sold and I have to hand it over as soon as I get back from Hayward. Most likely not going to replace it until the 2016’s are out in late summer. So as cool as I say this is in a week it will be over for me this winter Time to think spring. Shave off the beard and get in some road miles. But not quite yet. I still have about one more week and I plan to make the best of it. Heading to Hayward,WI for a little Birkie trail action. Along with miles and miles of bike specific machine groomed trails. I will literally try and ride my ass off this weekend.
Another thought (of many) this morn is how great the local trails are. Guys like me dream of heading to Marquette or Hayward. But this morning I noticed how great the local park was. As good as any trails up north. Firm, fast and wide. Easy to ride yet a blast to rip it up a bit. Thats just mostly due to a ton of bikes on it but not entirely. Several guys here have dragged a home made sled thru the woods walking with snowshoes. They have put some thought into where the trails should go as to not interfere with the current ski trail. They set the course and made first tracks and for that I say thanks. And I had nothing to do with it besides laying down a lap now and then. I was so obsessed over the famous Marquette and Hayward trails I didn’t notice how good the trails were a few miles from my house. And as the fat bike community here grows the more of that will happen.
Im sure most of you remember me saying that if you truly love riding bikes, sooner or later you will have one of these. Ive been saying that for years. And one by one, some of you are fulfilling the prophecy. Group rides have been as many as 15 bikes this winter. And a blast.
Early on these bikes were more of an expedition bike. The tires got even fatter and the bikes weighed a lot. Most riders not the athletic type but more of the outdoorsy kind. I think Im kinda in that group. Then the bikes turned into carbon overnight. Wheels too. A high end carbon wheelset now costs more than double of my first Pug.
That got the attention of the skinny fast athletes who just thrive on performance. Now they are able to do what we do only lots faster. And that’s appealing to some. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Its just part of bike evolution. I too like going fast but fail miserably at it. But I don’t let that bother me much. Just being outside, on a bike riding where I could never before ride a bike is about as good as it gets.
Its funny when I say thinks like “way back then” when Im referring to less than five years ago. Doing the fatbike thing early one feels like its been around a long time. It is crazy to thing how fast its growing and evolving. Whats it going to be like five more years from now? I’ll be 60 years old then. I cant imagine.
Heres to the future. If you like riding a bike as much as I do, sooner or later you will have one of these bikes if you don’t already.
Mark my words.