Category Archives: Fatbikes

Please check your bookmark or links

Triple F 2012 (photo credit: Bill Vitali)

 

The Ride Fatbikes site has a new platform.  If you were following our site at Ridefatbikes.Wordpress.com, please update all links and bookmarks to our all new site at RideFatbikes.com.

More than ever, we are focused on content by the fatbike rider, for the fatbike rider.  Check out our new site and contact us with your story ideas, guest posts, race recaps, and more.  Please make sure that if you’ve somehow navigated to this site by accident, you update any links or bookmark that brought you here to go directly to RideFatbikes.com.  We will no longer keep this content up to date, and will focus our attention on our new and improved website at RideFatbikes.com.

Thanks for your support over the last year and remember that RideFatbikes.com mission is to be a fatbike community resource by the fatbike rider, for the fatbike rider.  Feel free to contribute your ideas, guest posts, race recaps and more at RideFatbikes.com.

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Equinox Snow Challenge 2012 – Guest post by Ben Welnak

Equinox Snow Challenge photo

The following is a guest post written by RideFatbikes.com contributor, Ben Welnak.  You can find more stories and posts by Ben at his blog, BenWelnak.com.  He is also an owner of the Vail Colorado bike manufacturer, Twenty2 Cycles.  Be sure to check out Twenty2 Cycles here.

Equinox Snow Challenge 2012

This has been the winter of fatbikes and there is no better way to end the winter riding season with a real challenge.  The Equinox Snow Challenge, held annually since 2007, has added a fatbike category to the normal ski and run categories. The race is set to start at 10am on Saturday, March 24th at the Rendezvous Ski Trails in West Yellowstone, Montana. Skiers, runners, and cyclists have several categories to choose from, including 3, 6, 12, and 24 hour divisions for soloists up to relay teams up to 8 members.

The Equinox Snow Challenge is a unique fatbike race. The Rendezvous Ski Trails normally host several national caliber ski events annually. This is a one-time opportunity to ride fatbikes on the trails, which are open to skiers only from November through May. Race director, Sam Newbury really loves the area’s fatbiking potential, stating that “West Yellowstone is referred to as the ‘Moab of fatbiking’ by many. There are over 500 miles of groomed snowmobile trails in the Gallatin National Forest and the adjoining Targhee National Forest, both of which share boundaries with Yellowstone National Park, which provide ample exploring.”

The race organizers wanted to explore alternatives for skiers and bikers to share winter trail resources. They wantedto run an event that supports the local community, while providing an arena for participants to challenge themselves to new levels. It is meant to be a grassroots type event, rather than a “glossy industry event”. To maintain the feel, they will have a potluck, small crowds, and maybe a prize if you win. “You might get a prize if you win, you might not. It is not about the fame- it is about personal limits. You won’t get a timing chip, but you will get a pen to write down your teammate’s time. The regulars usually bring a pony keg of homebrew to share and everyone brings canned food for the Food Bank,” Newbury explains. There will be some sponsors on site, including demo bikes by Surly and Salsa. There will also be a Twenty2 Cycles Bully fatbike available to test ride before the race. They are also working on having a mechanic available. Several ski sponsors will also be on site to join in the fun.

Wondering what the conditions will be? The bike course will be a 4-6 mile loop on groomed nordic ski trails. The course will be separate from the skiers for the first eight hours, then, depending on conditions and numbers of users, the race organizers my consolidate the race onto one trail. The trail map can be found here www.rendezvousskitrails.com/trailmap/. The bike course is the “Volunteer Loop” plus the “Drew Ski CutOff.” Weather averages for the end of March are relatively warm, with highs in the uppers 30’s and lows in the teens, so racers should be able to enjoy springlike temperatures.

The organizers ask that all riders use fatbikes such as the Surly Pugsley, 9:ZERO:7, Fatback, Salsa Mukluk, or the Twenty2 Cycles Bully, and others which have 60-100mm rims and 3.7-4.7 inch tires. Other bikes will be accepted only if they are not impacting the trails more than a floatation bike. This may be the case during the depths of the evening, but is very unlikely during the typically warm spring daytime temperatures. If you don’t have a fatbike, you can rent, borrow, share with teammates, or sleep and ride when it is fast!

The Challenge is expecting a successful inaugural bike race. There are currently 15 registered riders and they are expecting 25-30 by start time. So far they have three 12 hr soloists, one 12 Hour duo team, two 24 hour teams, four 24 hr solos, and three 24 Hour combo teams. Racers are coming from around the west to check out the unique event, including people from Albuquerque, Durango, Denver, the Seattle area, Salt Lake, Jackson, Missoula and Bozeman. Currently there are 55 skiers registered and they expect 80-100 on race day.

If you are in town early, be sure to stay off the ski trails. The Forest Service doesn’t want any bikes on the trails until race day. You are invited to ride all of the snowmobile trails around the area if you’d like to get in some good local riding. Freeheel and Wheel (http://www.freeheelandwheel.com/) is the shop in town. If you want to stop in, check out their goods, or just warm up with a cup of coffee, they are on Yellowstone Street near the park entrance. If you are driving from the south and want to talk bikes with a very committed fatbike shop or need to rent one for the race then you should check out Fitzgeralds in Victor, Idaho (http://www.fitzgeraldsbicycles.com).

For more information, check http://www.equinoxskichallenge.com/. If you have any questions about the race or registration, please contact Sam Newbury at equinoxsnowchallenge@gmail.com.

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Almost a year in

Ride Fatbikes

The first post on RideFatbikes.com was almost a year ago – March 18, 2011.  The original goal in developing this site was to get the word out about how much fun it can be to ride fatbikes (hence the name “Ride Fatbikes”).  Since then, we’ve grown to a dramatically larger readership (over 7300 visitors last month compared to an average of 60 visitors/month in the first few months), we’ve developed/hosted/promoted the Fatbike Frozen Forty (triple F), we’ve launched the Fatbike Gallery, the Fatbike Library, and a Gear and Reviews section.  We’ve had guests posts, reader-contributed stories, and event/race recaps from readers, racers, and riders from all over the country, and we’ve tried to keep the content fresh.

That said, by no means do we have it all figured out.  Instead, as we approach the one-year anniversary of RideFatbikes.com, we’d like to try modifying (and hopefully improving) the format of this site.  Some of our most popular posts and stories have been those submitted by readers and guest contributors, so we’d like to do more of that.  We’ve found that while people like to know about races, rides, and adventures that are happening in their area, they also like to share stories about their own personal experiences at a race/ride or even their own solo fatbike adventure story.  Good stories and good adventures make for good reading.

The community of people who ride fatbikes has grown exponentially in recent years, and we hope it will continue to grow exponentially more in years to come.  We want RideFatbikes.com to serve that community by offering a place to share your fatbike stories, adventures, and more.  As our format changes, so may our site.  In the meantime, please feel free to comment on new pages or posts you see developing, check out and comment on our Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ride-Fatbikes/236605043077212), follow us on Twitter (@RideFatbikes), submit your photo for the Fatbike Gallery, or simply Contact Us and share a post or story you’d like to see included here.

It’s a lot of fun to ride fatbikes, and it’s a lot of fun to see what other fatbike riders have to say about their adventures.  Please feel free to make this site your forum for sharing the stories about how, where, and why you ride fatbikes.

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Filed under Bike Blogs, Biking, Cycling, Fatbike Frozen Forty, Fatbike Gallery, fatbike photos, Fatbike race, Fatbike Trails, Fatbikes, RIde Fatbikes

Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout – Guest post from Griff Wigley

Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout (photo courtesy of Griff Wigley)

At Ride Fatbikes, we enjoy sharing personal fatbiking experiences and stories, but believe that the readership is even better served by hearing about some of the fatbike experiences of others. Minnesota played host to a tremendous variety and quality of fatbike races this year, with one of them being the Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout last weekend. While the snow conditions proved difficult, from the reports I’ve heard people who went enjoyed themselves, even if they ended up pushing/dragging their bikes more than they expected. The story below was shared with us by Ride Fatbikes reader Griff Wigley, and is shared here as a guest post. Thanks for sharing this with us, Griff, we greatly appreciate receiving such guest posts and stories. If you’d like to check out Griff’s blog, you can find it here: http://mountainbikegeezer.com

____________

BY GRIFF WIGLEY, ON MARCH 4TH, 2012

My first-ever mountain bike race, the Sagamore SnowXross Race at the 2012 Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout, started out well for the 15 of in the Beginners Class.  After about 50 yards across the parking lot, however, soft snow created a big pileup and I soon learned firsthand what the phrase hike-a-bike meant. As Aaron Hautala wrote in this blog post:

Early into the Sagamore SnowXross Race it was obvious it needed a new name.

The IRONYETI.

The snow pack turned into champagne crystal powder overnight with the dramatic drop in temperature from Friday night, which made the race course a bit more challenging than we originally intended.

After about two miles of pushing the Mukluk, I lowered my rear tire pressure from about 4 PSI to near zero—I could feel the rim by pressing the tire hard with my hand. Much better traction.  Another mile and it occurred to me to do the same to the front tire. Better yet.

Last discovery at about mile 4: I quit trying to always ride in the narrow tire ruts made by other riders.  The amount of energy required to keep my balance while riding a rut wasn’t worth it, speed-wise. Instead, I could often go faster (especially when the terrain was flat or downhill) if I rode where riders had been walking.  The low tire pressure usually gave me enough grip to get through the footprints if they weren’t too deep.  Still, I estimate that I pushed my bike for 3 of the 6 miles. Uff-da. I finished in just under two hours.  I’ve not yet seen the results posted but the top three riders (Beginners Class) finished in approximately 1 hr and 35 minutes. I’ll post a link to the results at the bottom of this blog post when they become available.)
After lunch at the Heartland Kitchen Cafe, I took in some of theWhiteout Festival activities in Crosby’s Memorial Park. I didn’t compete in the Serpent Lake Ice Bike 500 races (I didn’t have studded tires) but instead, opted for some solo fat bike riding in theYawkey Unit.
Unlike Friday night, the Haul Road trail to the parking lot in the center of Yawkey was mostly packed down, sometimes to a width of 12 inches or more (left and center photos above). This makes for splendid riding.

I then rode Tugger, normally an intermediate difficulty trail that’s at the base of Bobsled (see the inset on page 2 of this DNR map of the park). It’s a gorgeous trail but like Friday night, riding it was very difficult because there was only a single rut from the few previous riders.  I took it easy and just enjoyed the scenery.
At 5 pm, everyone convened at the Ya Betcha Bar & Grill in Crosby for free appetizers, drawings for prizes, and the awards ceremony hosted by MORC Board member and Events Director Amanda Scholz. The event swag (beanie and stein) was impressive.

See the large slideshow of 50 photos of the entire two-day event.


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Fatbike video

Ben Welnak recently posted this cool video (aptly titled Fatbike Spring) on his site, BenWelnak.com.  It’s a nice mix of stills and video, showcasing some of the beauty that can be seen and fun that can be had on snow-covered but melting winter trail on a warm day in Colorado.

We’ve posted it here with Ben’s permission.  Check it:

http://vimeo.com/38006540

 

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Ben & the Bully are at the top of the Mahem

Those of you who follow RideFatbikes.com regularly know that Twenty2 Cycles and Ben Welnak (one of the owners) are held in high regard here, in part due to the fact that Twenty2 Cycles makes some great fatbikes, expanding the ever-increasing offerings in the fatbike world, and in part due to their advocacy and sponsorship of the Triple F.  So when we heard that Ben one the Leadville Mahem (the 2nd of 3 races in the Leadville Winter Mountain Bike Race series, we were excited to get the word out.

Ben’s blog, The Front Range Chronicles, is a good read, and can be found here.  The article below is a guest post from Ben Welnak, and is a copy of the same article from his blog.  If you like the article, be sure to check out the rest of the great stories on his site.

SUNDAY, MARCH 4, 2012

Leadville Winter Mountain Bike Race #3 – Mineral Belt Mayhem

I headed up to Leadville yesterday after Amy and I met with some Walk to Remember folks to get on the CBS local news. Amy did a great job talking on air while we were recording – she’s better on camera than she thinks, especially when discussing child loss. It’s a great organization that helps people who have experienced child loss know that there are others out there ready to talk about it.
a lot of snow on the drive up to Leadville

I rolled into town around noon and took a little time to get all my clothes laid out and bike ready to rock.

i know…triple crank with no front der…oops, didn’t order enough and the one went on a customer’s bike. I’ll get that ordered up, but for tonight I’ll be rolling a 1 x 9
A lot of clothes for an hour long race. Gear includes ice fishing mittens with sweet ass Ergon gloves underneath (yes, ice fishing…I am from Wisconsin after all) All necessary though as the temps dropped like a rock down to like 10 degrees after sunset.

Once I was comfortable with everything and it was ready to go, I headed down the street to the City on a Hill Coffee Shop to eat, hang out, and get some work done while I waited for the race.

On the way over I took my time and checked out the skijoring. It sure is something else!

the Leadville, CO main street (the race finishes on this street!)

Around 5:30, I started packing up my stuff at the coffee shop and headed over to the race sign up at the Cycles of Life Bike Shop . $20 later I got ready to roll. My legs were feeling a little sore, so i took a good amount of time warming up to get ready for the cyclocross-like 12ish mile, 1hour+ effort (the time varies a good bit from year to year depending on the snow conditions).

just happened to get Number 22 to go on the Twenty2 Cycles Bully.. a good sign perhaps

It was good to get back. After a hiatus from last year’s race, it felt good to be back, waiting in the coffee shop, looking out the window at like 1,000 people lining the streets. A lot has changed in those two years, wow. I’m definitely a different person than the last Mineral Belt Mayhem.

So, the race…

We’re all ready to go.
Headed away from the shop down the main drag, Harrison Ave, on to 8th Street

It started off with a neutral rollout from the shop down the snow packed street. Then once we hit 8th street, a cop continued to lead us out until we hit the Mineral Belt Trail just on the edge of town. The total starting pack was probably around 50 (waiting on the results as of writing this to get the actual numbers).

The Mineral Belt Trail is a 12 mile all-season trail designed for bikes and walkers. In the winter it’s a nicely groomed cross country ski trail for both classic and skate skiing. It was packed for the race, but there is only so much packing will do with a lot of new snow.

The cop pulled off as we approached the start of the trail and the race was on. Throughout the rollout, I wanted to stay near the front so I could take a stab at pushing the pace early on and see where I could take it. It was all good as I looked over and saw a couple people and the rest of the pack not too far behind. I didn’t want to be “that guy” by blowing apart the rollout, so I let off to not go crazy.

The race was on and you could hear the changing gears. I pushed the pedals, hit the trail first, and hopped up over the little ridge of snow. Crap…the chain jumped off. I had to stop and get it back on. I was now suddenly in chase mode only 1 minute into the race. Not good.

I hopped back on and put my head down. It didn’t take long to catch up to a lot of the people on regular mountain bikes because the snow was soft and it was hard to navigate. The leaders were not far up ahead, so I knew that if I could keep it steady that I could put it on over the last couple mile uphill section.

The snow didn’t get much harder. There was a small section on the right of the skate ski deck and a sliver of space next to the classic tracks that were enough to carry some float. But once you tried to venture out from those spots and pass, it was like hitting peanut butter. The tires would just punch through and drag.

Five of us continued up the initial climb in the lead. It was strung out maybe 30-45 seconds from the leader back to me at 5th. I stuck on the wheel of a guy on a 29er knowing that he’d probably fall off the pace, taking advantage of the extra packed tire tread. It’s just too hard to maintain a good pace, going up an incline on “skinny” tires, so it was only inevitable. I tried to pass him a couple times, but when I swung out to go by, the soft snow sucked me in. It wasn’t worth trying to put so much into it so early on. I got tired of following him though, so I finally just punched it and grinded through the slow snow.

The leaders weren’t getting out any further, so I just maintained a good pace and focused on catching the next guy. I got him and we see-sawed for a bit before I started pushing the pace and moving the Bully faster. We reached a downhill section and I let it rip with the second place rider in my sights.
After closing the gap on the second place rider on this section, I passed him on a short road crossing and the race was on to catch first.

I kept him in my sights, which was around 30 seconds up-I would continually pick sections that I saw him pass and then countdown, just to know where I stood. Knowing that the last couple mile would be a tough gradual uphill, I anticipated that he’d get tired given the pace he was pushing. After we popped out of a sweet downhill section through the trees, the 1st place rider was closer than I thought. He seemed to struggle through a rough patch of snow leading up to the Highway 24 crossing and I knew it wouldn’t be long. I hit a short road crossing and sprinted for about 20 seconds until I caught and passed him.

The last section was pretty loose and had some deeper snow. There was one spot that I decided to jump off and run. I took a quick look back and saw two lights – the third place guy was catching second. I looked back a couple minutes later and saw him pass. At that point, I stood up and pushed to the end of the trail. Once I heard the cowbells of the volunteers at the right turn onto Harrison, I knew it was done. I just pushed over the hill and got to sprint it home on the snowpacked Harrison Avenue for a 1st place finish.

I love the end of this race – racing down through the center of Leadville at night with a good gang of people hanging at the bike shop.

A good group of people hung around after the race, both at the shop, as well as the mexican restaurant next door. We were waiting to see how others were doing. Some people were have some big issues with the snow and took 2-3 hours to finish. As of right now, the results aren’t posted yet, but I will update this post when they are.

The Leadville Winter Mountain Bike races never disappoint. It’s a great chance to get out and gain a little race training, have a post race Oskar Blues beer, and meet some cool people.

Thanks to the Cloud City Wheelers for the opportunity to race in the dead of winter above 10,000 feet of elevation. Thanks to Cycles of Life for hosting this race. Groomed race course, cheap entry, plenty of schwag, free beer, and cool people – can’t really ask for much more.

The Twenty2 Cycles Steel Bully handled the course well. The “mountain bike-like” geometry really is fun. It allowed me to really rip the downhills with quick handling and was very balanced when I was slowly going up the hills. I really dig the sturdiness when I stand and put the power to the pedals. I know that I should feel this way, since I am an owner in the company, but I can’t argue with the result.

I won’t be hitting up the last race of the series on April 7th because I have some bigger and longer fish to fry – April 7th is AntiEpic day. So, it’s a bittersweet end to my Leadville races for the year. It’ll be a year until the next, but it also means that spring is right around the corner.

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Fatbikes All Year (by Ben Welnak, guest author)

The article below is by guest author and friend of RideFatbikes.com, Ben Welnak.  Ben is an avid mountain bike enthusiast and racer, and is an owner of Twenty2 Cycles.  His personal blog is well worth reading, and you can check that out at BenWelnak.com.  Ben’s cycling and racing perspective and insights can also be found at XXCMag.com, as Ben recently joined Jason and Zandr to do the weekly XXC podcasts ( http://xxcmag.com/xxc-podcasts ).   At RideFatbikes.com, we’re fortunate to have Ben contribute some of his insights and thoughts to issues such as the one below, which is likely on the minds of many of us “fatbike afficionados” as we enter the spring riding season.

If you want to discuss the issue Ben raises, feel free to leave a comment here inline with the article, and we can get the discussion rolling.

Big Betty tire in Twenty2 Cycles Bully fatbike frame

Fatbikes All Year

by Ben Welnak

This winter has been a very interesting one in the mountain biking world. Fatbikes have stormed the scene and left a wake of a whole new range of frames, components, wheels, clothing, races, and other accessories. Many riders have taken advantage of several new options to take the plunge into buying a full new bike for the offseason. They’ve realized the change in mindset that the fatty tires bring. Now, snow, paths, frozen lakes, rocky shorelines, sand, and any other type of riding is just plain fun.

It’s March, daylight savings time starts next weekend, and spring is right around the corner. You have big heavy fat tires and 80mm rims that you bought to prepare for the frozen months, which didn’t seem to appear in a lot of the country. Now, with thawing dirt, are you going to hang up your brand new bike? Or…will you get it rigged up a little different so it’s ready to rock on your regular riding haunts too?

They are great in all conditions, but I understand how all of us think. If I could just have a lighter setup with these big wheels, I could keep the fun and make it a little quicker and easier to get through the hills. We’re always looking to upgrade – if this frame was a little stiffer, this wheel a little lighter, these treads not so much of a drag on the ground. There are talks of “skinny” fatbike tires out there and I’m sure that, after this booming year, there will be plenty of options coming on board at some point in the future.

I thought it would be cool and (hopefully) helpful to try out some different tire options to give you an idea of other options out there to drop weight and make your rig a little faster for the summertime singletrack. This isn’t meant to be the most technical discussion or a specific gear review article. There are plenty of other great people doing that kind of thing already. Rather, it’s meant to be a look at what options are available, try them out, and share the information. I’m not sure how many pieces I will write or where this will even lead. Maybe nowhere and maybe it kicks off a little discussion. We’ll see.

I’ve started out with Schwalbe’s Big Betty freeride tires. At a claimed weight of 870 grams and a width of 2.4 inches, it seemed like a good option to test out. I mounted them to 65mm wide Surly’s Marge Lite rims and kept the pressure around 20 psi. The tires stretched out to a little over 2.6inches, with the tread a little bit narrower than the sidewalls. Not enough to be any issue, but should be noted I tend to start with a fuller tire and then go down from there. Mounted on my Twenty2 Cycles Bully, which is designed for the “traditional” fatty tires, it was an over fun ride.

Big Betty rear tire in Twenty2 Cycles Bully fatbike frame

I’ve only done a little riding on them so far, but it was on some frozen singletrack. The pavement ride to the trail was relatively good. It wasn’t a smooth road tire or a regular 29er tire, but it’s not meant to be. It rolled good for a fatty tire, although it did seem to pick up a lot of small stones. To be expected with a tire with such tread, but it’s noticeably more than you’re probably used to with the other fat tire options.

I definitely have plenty more testing to go on these to feel the full effect. Stay tuned to RideFatbikes.com as I do more testing and writing about these Big Betty tire setup. I will continue to try these out on the Bully and see what I think as I hit more thawed out mountain singletrack. I’m interested in trying some of the new tires later this year and see what is possible with some of these setups.

Feedback is definitely welcome. I’d love to hear what everyone else is running and what ideas you have. Feel free to contact me directly at ben@twenty2cycles.com.

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