Image courtesy of Chad Bailey
Ah, yes! Mr. Turner is back to regale us all with another one of his tales. This time with stories of a different type of racing. Enjoy!
A trend, a joke or something just not meant to be taken seriously – All are labels that have recently been given to a large growing group of bicycles affectionately known as, “Fat Bikes”. This fun loving crowd breaks from the status-quo and takes adventure cycling to the next level.
Fat-bikes break free from the roads carved out in co-ordinance with the cardinal directions. Through fields, woods, prairies – and better yet – snow, they wander. All of this done effortlessly as their wide tires float above anything and everything.
Skeptical at first, I was swayed by converted FatBikers and even given a Fatty to borrow (I’m still not sold on the name these bikes have acquired). With it, I registered for the Triple D Winter Race. An “Ultra-Bike” race on the Eastern side of Iowa running a metric century in length – all upon snow. Upon arrival at the start line, and surrounded by nearly sixty similar FatBikesnI was in a different realm than my typical cycling scene.
Gravel slows riding down in comparison to a similar road ride – FatBiking makes time stand still as compared to either. Suddenly finishing 100km in seven hours becomes an elite feat, and catching a rider less than a minute ahead takes miles. The mental games take an unrelenting amount of wit as nine miles an hour has your body pegged at its utmost redline. Even sticking your tongue out as you pass the photographer doesn’t dull the pain.
Miles of solemn pedaling suddenly become unequivocal as your surroundings are realized. No longer bound by the simple gravel roads – you’re floating on snow in a field. Never before have I taken the time, during a bicycle race, to realize my surroundings as much as I did in this race. The sound of the statement is crude, but slowing down the mechanics and changing the playing field – makes the floating seem all the more real. I suddenly realized I was having fun.
Many claim the FatBiking is a trend or an embarrassment to ‘real’ cycling. I, however, had taken enough abuse to give a certain reverence for this crowd of cyclists. Fat tires or skinny tires, the idea is still the same. Getting folks on bicycles is always the goal, even if they have to float upon snow to do so.
An extremely tough, but wonderful event was the 2012 Triple D Winter Race. I’ll be back again next year, perhaps, with a fatty of my own.
After all, it’s simply about keeping it fun.