Category Archives: Team Rides

Friendship and Fat Biking…

I was introduced to fat bikes a few years ago when I participated in a local event, with my friend Colin: A Winter Fat Bike Relay Race in the snow.  I borrowed my friend Mike’s fat bike, and Colin and I teamed up to compete in the three lap race.

The race was for fun, put on by the local MTB club: CORBA. There was snow when the race started, but as the sun came out and stayed to party with us, the course, quite quickly, liquefied into grassy slop and mud.  Still, we raced on, wet and muddy, laughed and drank beer.


After the race,  I cleaned the bike up (twice if I remember) and thanked Mike for lending me his Surly Pugsley.  It was a weighty blue beast, a touch small, but reliable in the corners.


Just writing this reminds me of how fantastic the biking community here in Bloomington/Normal is and I am forever in debt to Mike and Colin (and the Local Bike Shop), for being fantastic friends, and introducing & inviting me to participate in these things…

Since then, I have been lazily eyeing a fat bike for purchase.  My relay race experience left me wanting more in terms of racing and fat biking, but time passed, and as money permitted, I chose  Mountain, Cross, and Gravel bikes and rides instead.    During this same time period, all new fat bike models have come out from every bike company and they are becoming increasingly lighter, faster, made from Carbon, and Ti, in a cascade of price ranges.  Any way I cut it, most of the time they were too expensive for me, and I didn’t want to spend a whole lot of money on a bike I was not going to race.

Colin got in contact with me about three weeks ago.   He mentioned that he had a Fat Bike, a Salsa Mukluk, that he was looking to part with after having purchased a different model, a Surly Ice Cream Truck, and was wondering if I would be interested.  I mentioned that I was interested, but would need some time to think about it.

He sent me this text message:

“In about 10 minutes I’m going to come by and put a fat bike in your backyard. That sounds inappropriate but it’s true.  Ride it this weekend and get rad.”

I did just that, and never looked back.

My first few rides were in a Elementary School playground with the dog.  I spent most of the time learning to wheelie, riding down stairs, and sprinting back and forth so the dog would chase me.

I raced the bike in the Fat Bike open at a local CX race, and had a great, but exhausting time.

I went on a Tuesday Nite Team ride with a few others on fat bikes and rode 16+ miles, with intermittent sprinting and ridiculousness.

On Christmas Eve, I rode 32 miles, and felt all the resistance of the large tires, and all the enjoyment of its ability to corner on suspect turf…

Yesterday, I rode it to the gym and back, in a head wind, learning the how important that high gear is.

What I found over the past three weeks:

  • Fat bikes will help you learn to wheelie
  • Fat bikes can move quickly
  • Fat Bikes can roll over just about anything
  • You will always have fun
  • You will rediscover your inner child
  • You can ride and have fun on any of the following surfaces:
    • Snow
    • Single track
    • Pavement
    • Grass
    • Mud

My final thoughts:

  • I think the fat bike is the perfect tool to bridges the gap between fun and training, road and all other trails.  Even my dog loves chasing it around.
  • A 4+ Inch tire gives you all the traction and comfort needed in all situations.
  • The Mukluk has all the bosses needed for bike packing…
  • Fat bikes are good for solo endeavors, but are better shared with friends.
  • Listen to your friends…buy a fat bike.



Barry Roubaix – Year 2

This year the Barry Roubaix was moved out 1 month into April from March. While originally apprehensive about this move, my skin, body and psyche welcomed the 73 degree sunny weather for the race start. Much of the overheard pre race chatter while we staged for our waves made fond reference to how cold it was the previous year and how welcome the sun and warmth were. It was a bluebird day and the roads were promised to packed and dusty.

I went into the Barry Roubaix fresh off of a successful winter maintenance training program with the athlete factory. I dropped roughly 20+ pounds and my strength increased dramatically. My only goal was to have fun and beat last year’s time. I went a little further and mentally prepared myself by removing all expectations of finishing first or placing at all and focused on riding well and feeling good.

Pre race travel day involved BBQ and potato salad, avocado and a chicken lettuce salad thing and 4 beers and a bunch of water.

Day of, I staged near the front of my wave and made sure I used the restroom 3 times before we started. I previously warmed up with 7 miles of riding and spinning with the team.

As our wave was called up, I was nervous and trying to keep my breathing in check. When we finally took off I tried to stay near the pack, but not with them, using the road section to spin my legs into a faster cadence. I waited to make any move until we hit the gravel.

Once on gravel, I made it my only goal to move up and past people, jumping from train to train, making sure I was not over taxing my legs in the process. I rode the entire race by feel.

Every hill I tackled I tried to stay in the saddle and keep pace with the train I was on, or use it as an opportunity to pass people. By mile 16 I started to notice my age group had thinned out.

Road sections were for catching the next group ahead and taking multiple drinks from one of my two water bottles. I brought three gels and kept them in the elastic of my bibs on my left leg. I consumed one every 30 minutes.

Sagar road brought the collapse of most peoples efficiency and pace. Due to the chaos that sandy sections bring nervous riders I was forced to dismount and run, using it as another opportunity to pass people. I made sure I was in a climbing gear for when I remounted.

By the time I reached the half way mark, I realized that I would be able to complete my race in under 2 hours and used that to Stoke my final miles. I attacked all the hills and tried to pass everyone I approached.

The final road into town I increased my speed and again attacked on all the hills. I had a few others hanging on at this point and was unable to shake them. We battled for the finish line the whole way in.

It is hard to know where you stand in your race while riding/racing the Barry Roubaix. You leave with an age group and eventually you all mix together, all ages and groups. You fight them all to the finish line only to realize they started two minutes before or after you in a different wave. The person who finished in front of you might not even be in your age group or distance at all. It keeps you on edge a bit.

In the end, I lost top 10 by 1 second at the finish line. I finished 169th overall, and 11th in my age group. Time of 1:55.59 seconds, beating last year’s completion time by 14 minutes.

Mackinaw Micro-Adventure

Awwwwwww snap!  It’s friday! And I spent last night having a fancy dinner with my SLF at a local brewery pub whateveryacallit.  The food and brews were okay!

But today marks another exciting moment: the weekend is neigh! Adventure is afoot!

My buddy and I packed our CX (cyclocross) bikes with some lite camping gear and food and are riding out (20 miles) to the Mackinaw Valley to steal a campsite (no Camping in the area) by the river for the night.  In the AM, we are going to wake up and meet the rest of the team at Brock Park, drop some gear in a car and race 40 miles with the team on gravel, and then ride 20 miles home.  To top off the evening – Lucero is playing a show at the local venue the Castle Theater!

I used bungee cords to strap a bag of clothes and some dehydrated meals to the handlebars of my bike.

I borrowed a half frame bag from my friend Mike at Bloomington Cycle and Fitness, and filled it with a fuel canister, an MSR Pocket Rocket, a Patagonia Houdini, gels, and arm and leg warmers, a swiss army knife, a head lamp, a lighter, and a spork.

On the back of my bike, I used my Viscacha bag and filled it with my Eno Hammock and its necessary accessories, a ground tarp, Puffy jacket, and my sleeping bag.

Update: As I write this, my team moved the ride to Sunday, and it supposed to rain all day today.  Bummer? Not at all!  We are still headed out for our micro-adventure.  Rain be damned!


41 Miles for 41 Years

Tonight I participated in our regular Tuesday Night Constitution Trail Nite ride, our Cycling Teams weekly Winter, in-town training event.  These events are friendly and competitive (thanks impart to Strava), but we tend to refer to them as “Spirited.”  Here is my ride data.

Tonights ride was rough. My whole body is sore, in a good way.  I have learned to love that exhausted “spent” feeling.  I also love the gorging on food that occurs afterwards…But on to more important things…

Our “spirited” ride tonight coincided with the 41st Birthday for one of our Comrades (the Tiki). Encouraged by the wonderful 70 degree weather and the Tiki’s birthday stoke – some of us decided to ride a little beyond our average 30-ish miles, and instead opted to hit the 41 mile mark!

The Tiki and his stoke:


This got me thinking about how people choose to celebrate milestones:

35 from ARC’TERYX on Vimeo.

What I like about both these examples is how each person chose to celebrate with their friends, and community, in a shared outside activity.  Friends join to support you in your effort, push you a little farther, and help you celebrate!   That is really what all this stuff is about right?  Friendship?  Community? Pushing each other?

How do I want to celebrate my 31st with my friends and community this year?  I hope its free, outside and full of laughter.

Camping?  Backpack?  Fly Fishing? Group Ride?  Mountain Biking? Bikepacking?

How do you want to celebrate your next milestone?  The start of your next year?