Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Rolling a Fatty at Midnight

Man, was I feeling high the other night--after rolling a fat bike along gravel roads in the dark.

In what’s becoming something of a tradition, the DM crew ventured out on the weekend for a full-moon ride. Here’s how it works: circle the date on the calendar, plan a gravel loop in the outback where there will be minimal traffic, drive outside the city as the sun is setting, get lit up, and go for a spin under the moonlight. 

What made this moon ride particularly fun for me was the bike I was riding: a borrowed Pugsley fat bike, courtesy of Penn, who’s still crushing on his new Salsa Fargo (more on that another day). I’ve ridden the fatty a few times but never on gravel. And I have to say, the fat bike sure does make gravel grinding groovy.
On my regular gravel-bike, a touring machine with 38 mm tires, I find that I really have to pay attention to the road, constantly looking for the best line in the gravel—the hardest pack, often a tire track. On rough or soft gravel, my eyes are almost always scanning for soft spots, dips, and brown-sugar mounds. Such navigating takes a fair bit of concentration, and on a bad road, it can be downright exhausting. Plus, I’m so focused on the road that I hardly have a chance to look around.

But on the Pugsley, gravel riding is a totally different experience—easy, relaxing, mellow even. I found that I barely needed to look at the road at all. You just roll, baby, over soft sugar, dips, eskers, tree branches, herds of frogs, whatever. Little concentration is required. I was gazing around at the setting sun, assorted cows, planes coming in to land at the airport, and even craning my neck to locate the promised moon. Sure, the fatbike is heavy, particularly on uphills, but so what? That’s a trade-off I’ll gladly take. On the gravel it positively floats along like the Queen Mary on the Atlantic. No one complains about how much she weighs. 

Rolling a fatty at midnight can be mind-altering. The high wore off after a few hours but not before I got the munchies and had to insist that we stop for a midnight snack on the way home.

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