Beat's new bike
This is also possibly the current best bike in the world for Beat's intended use on the Iditarod Trail. Mike wrote about this bike: "Key word above = geometry. I had a custom frame built because although everyone seems to make a fatbike these days, none of them come anywhere close to geometry that really, truly works on snow. 99.9% of the people buying and riding fatbikes these days don't know any better, and 90% of them don't care. Most are simply happy looking down on their gee-whiz bulbous tires, thinking that the tires are the most important thing. No way."
More details about this bike here and here.
So perhaps I am bicycle obsessed after all. But a large part of me remains annoyed by the realities of bicycles — they're bulky things, and quite heavy when loaded with touring gear. They have to be carried or pushed in a wide range of unrideable conditions. They break down and need new parts frequently. They have to be secured and fretted about when left unsupervised. There are always these new-fangled components like thru-axles that I can't coax into releasing without much gnashing of teeth. (I have real difficulties with mechanical learning, of which I'm not proud, but there it is.) Even among rideable trails, a high percentage are off-limits to bicycles. There's so much more freedom — and fewer complications — in hiking, running, and backpacking. And yet the feeling of riding a bicycle — the steady rhythm, flow, and ease of covering ground — will always keep me coming back to cycling, even if the machines vaguely irritate me.
Beat flew back to California on Sunday night, but I decided to spend a couple more days with my family in Salt Lake. Alone with Beat's new bike, of course I had to take it out for a ride on the neighborhood trails in Corner Canyon.
Here's another embarrassing confession that reveals my contemptuousness when it comes to mechanics: This bicycle came with two sets of wheels — 29" rims with 3" tires for "summer" use, and fat bike rims and knobby tires for "winter" use. Beat mounted the skinny wheels for his desert ride in Loma, and I was effectively too lazy to swap out the wheels. Sure, I reasoned that the trails were mostly well-packed and the 29+ set-up would be sufficient. But I also knew that my tendency is to venture off beaten paths to explore new ground, and I *knew* that rather than riding the established network of well-built, world-class singletrack, I was going to end up exploring the untracked jeep roads above the canyon. This is just who I am, and why I don't always abide well with the limitations of bicycles.
Still, for riding in anywhere from 3" to 9" of drifted, somewhat crusty fluff, this bike handled impressively well. It helps that Utah snow is practically like air, but I had great fun motoring up steep hillsides that were pocked with deer tracks and nothing else. Sure, the big wheels would have assisted an easier and faster ride, but I was glad for a little more nimbleness when I launched down a mercilessly steep jeep track riddled with baseball-sized boulders that were hidden by a thin layer of snow. Brakes were dialed in as well, thank goodness.
I also have a better sense for how well this bike is going to work for Beat in Alaska. It is quite nimble, light, and comfortable — the saddle notwithstanding. (I used to pride myself on being able to sit my butt on any saddle without issues, but Adamo saddles quickly cause what feels like bruising on my sit bones. After my five-hour ride on Monday, I could hardly sit in a chair without wincing. Beat uses these saddles because they distribute weight directly to the sit-bones to protect softer body parts, so I get it. But they strongly do not work for me.)
But if we have to have another bike filling the walls of our apartment, I'm glad it's this one.