According to this post on Facebook, employees at QBP “spent weeks turning this year’s copious snow into a fat bike demo course” for their annual Frostbike dealer show at their headquarters in Bloomington. (I was there yesterday, doing board member booth duty at the MORC booth.)
Last week’s Arrowhead Ultra 135 was in the news, not only for those of us who follow the world of winter fat bike racing, but because the unusually cold conditions made it an compelling human interest story.
Many of us Northfielders followed the race closely because two local mountain bikers, Jerry Bilek and Christopher Tassava, competed on fat bikes. Jerry got halfway (70 miles) before dropping out; Christopher finished in 7th place. (Results here.)
When a photo of Christopher and his beardsicle at the first checkpoint appeared with an article on the front page of the StarTribune’s Sports section, the world beyond Northfield began to take notice. Christopher’s skill with social media tools (@tassava on Twitter, @tassava on Instagram, Tassava on Facebook) prior to and during the race made it all the more compelling. Continue reading
I’ve not played hockey in a couple of decades or more but a conversation with fellow Northfielders Corey Butler (@CoreyButlerJr) and Brenton Balvin (@BrentonBalvin) after last week’s NCO annual meeting convinced me that I should get back into it and join them.
I got my old hockey skates sharpened on Friday and instead of going someplace to ride my mountain bike this afternoon (zero degrees and very windy), I decided to head to the outdoor hockey rink next to the Northfield Ice Arena because it has a warming house. A couple of hearty 12 year-olds (Christopher and Jake) were there so I felt right at home. Continue reading
Many of the mountain bike trails in the Twin Cities area have harder B-lines (alternative routes through a section of a trail) that are fun to attempt in winter when they’re covered with snow.
I rode many of them at Lebanon Hills a couple of weeks ago and captured on video my rides on three of them: a wide and flat skinny in the X loop (success), the big bridge rock in the XX loop (success after 3 tries), and the rounded skinny in the intermediate out loop (all fails).
What have I learned in my winter rides so far this year? Fresh snow can be surprisingly grippy, even on rocks, as I blogged two years ago. Snow on wood is nearly always super slippery. My front suspension starts to gets sluggish at about 10 degrees F and is completely stiff at -10 F. The day I took this video it was about + 10 F and that’s what made the difference in my being able to get over the bridge rock this time, unlike back on Dec. 18 when it was -5 F. When I manual, I use my front suspension to aid with front wheel lift.
As for the repeat fails at the intermediate out loop log: an ice-covered log skinny is tough.
At last night’s MORC board meeting, there was some interesting discussion about the pros and cons of MORC taking a public position on the addition of a paved trail along the MN River Bottoms in Bloomington. (See my previous 5 blog posts about advocacy related to the MN River bottoms issue going back to last July.)
Wearing my citizen/taxpayer hat, I’m personally against adding a new paved trail between 169 and Cedar as I think the maintenance costs would be outrageous. But I’ve been arguing that it’s best for MORC to not publicly oppose it right now till we know more.
Last week I moderated a webinar and Q&A session with MORC President Reed Smidt and MORC Executive Director Matt Andrews.
Here’s my lightly edited 1 hour and 12 minute video of the session, with a Table of Contents of 46 clickable segments on the left side that allows you to quickly jump around to whatever interests you most. Continue reading
Last Thursday and Friday, I attended the Midwest Fat Bike Access & Grooming Workshop in Cable WI, a gathering of practitioners devoted to improving off-road cycling and fat biking in winter.
Following a late Thursday afternoon/evening fat bike ride by approximately 15- 20 riders on the newly groomed Esker trail in the CAMBA trail system’s Cable cluster, participants gathered for the opening reception at the Lakewoods Resort. QBP’s John Gaddo showed Cold Rolled, the documentary by Clear & Cold Cinema featuring the 15-mile winter singletrack Snow Bike Route (SBR) that’s part of the Noquemanon Trails Network in Marquette, Michigan.
I rode Leb a couple weeks ago on my 29′er hardtail. I had about 15 PSI in my skinny Maxxis Ardent 2.4″ tires, with rear tubeless. I’m 150 pounds. Since the intermediate loop was packed pretty well and reasonably wide, I thought I’d be fine. NOT.
If I didn’t stay in the hard center, the softer edges of the packed area would often derail me. I kept thinking “lean the bike more” and “keep your eyes ahead.” I tried standing up more, then sitting down more. Nothing worked. I then ran into Bob Shepherd and a small gang on fatties and told them my tale of woe. Bob and another guy squeezed my tires and said they were way too hard, and in a way that left no doubt of their convictions. I wasn’t as sure but I promptly began letting out air and as Bob got ready to depart, he asked me if I had a pump in case I let out too much. I did.
The difference was shocking. Continue reading
I last blogged about my experience of riding my skinny-tired 29′er in the snow back in late February of 2012. It was a very poor winter for snow lovers here in southern Minnesota and that day at Murphy-Hanrehan was one of the only times I got to ride my bike on snowy area singletrack trails.