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:
- Single track
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.