my little 35lb friend
dude, where's my ride?
I didn't have a bike for the race so I headed down to Golden Bike Shop in Golden, CO. Not every shop rents snow bikes. And not every shop rents small snow bikes. So off to Golden I went to get a ride my size.
It seemed I picked the shop which was a hot bed for snow bikes too. They not only had a small fleet of bikes, but a mini battalion of snow bike riders. I got tips from staff who all ride snow bikes, and one, in particular, who rides his snow bike all year long; Mark Ruda.
As far as riding your snow bike, Mark says up front, "You will eat shit." After all, you're riding on snow - traction is a fluid concept.
a fat-bike fiend
I did hit the ground once when I rode in Vail, but it was more a slide/crash combo. Maybe I just fell right, but the snow was a lot more forgiving than some of the dirt and rocks I've run into before.
not just a winter thang
Speaking of rocks and dirt; snow bikes aren't just for snow. Not boulder-strewn paths, pump tracks, or dirt jumps are deterrents for Mark. The big cushy wheels monster-truck over big rocks and pop through pump tracks. Even if the winter is "a battle to see who can get first tracks," you can find Mark riding his snow bike on the hottest days of summer.
snow, fat or just plain rad
Which is the reason I should stop calling it a snow bike and stick to calling it a fat-bike, because the bike itself has outgrown the season as it continues to grow in popularity.
Golden Bike Shop sold about 10 snow bikes last season. By mid-February this year, they had already sold 40. While Colorado's winter bike races are picking up, snow bikes have already taken hold in the mid-west. Bike the Keweenaw has a healthy series in the land where, according to my Michigander friend Matt, "the snow bike is the new fixie."
change of pace, anyone?
Whatever it's called, it's fun. The race in Vail was a whole new experience. Pedaling up hill was a plodding concentration on balance. I worked to keep each pedal stroke smooth and in contact with the snow. Sure, I didn't go as fast as I would on a regular bike, but the action fit so well as we cruised through a winter wonderland to the crunching sound of the snow beneath. It felt great to be out in the cold crisp air. Then, when we got to the descent, it was like reaching the top of a roller coaster. The adrenaline surged as we slid, pedaled or carved down the mountain.
If you're looking to mix it up a bit this winter -or maybe this summer- you should try one. You may find fat never felt so good.