Sunday, February 8, 2015

White Is The Color Of Surrender

The mixed blessings of nice weather: A big crowd and bad snow.

I still hate winter.

Early on Saturday afternoon, I had my first fatbike experience. It did not go well. Enthusiasts at the Ozaukee County Mountain Bikers’ fatbike demo day assured me that the poor quality of the snow was to blame. Demo day attracted a lot of people and the snow degraded from above-freezing temperatures and heavy traffic. The “go anywhere” fatbikes bogged down in snow that behaved more like deep, loose sand. Prior to last Monday there wasn’t enough snow for fatbikes. Yesterday there was enough snow but it was the wrong kind.

On Friday I spent 90 minutes snowshoeing at Pleasant Valley Park to help prepare the trails. On Saturday I overheard complaints that the trails were not groomed to a standard that one normally associates with cross country skiing. If fatbiking is best enjoyed on snow that has been compacted to a smooth, road-like consistency, then why not just ride on the road? Worrying about the properties of the snow and the esoteric calculus of fatbike tire pressure strikes me as rather precious. If you can tolerate temperatures low enough to ensure a stable riding surface, then fatbiking might create opportunities for you to ride when you wouldn't otherwise. But because I typically don’t ride when the temperature is below freezing, demo day left unanswered the question of why I ever would choose a fatbike.

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