Tuesday, 24 November 2015

This is Why

There is a lot of chat on the net these days about Fat Bikes. Depending on where you go they are the answer to anything or joke bikes only suited for people who aren't real mountainbikers. This all somewhat ignores their origins - the annual bike race along the iditarod trail, not exactly a joke and proof that these things reach the parts that other bikes can't... I'm a sold convert of course however this weekend has definitely been a definitive fat biking trip for me - in fact this is why I ride them. The fact it was the Ice Cream Truck's first birthday just added to the occaision.

Friday am saw me leave an extremely wet Fife and head north into the forecasted snow storm. I arrived at a very murky Lagan around 10.30 and drank tea until the sleet eased off, abandonned the car and headed for the hills. Heading along Loch an Earba was less than inspiring with a large cloud heading rapidly towards me....




I rode this track three weeks ago - it was about 2 feet higher than the water level:-



Climbing up towards the Bealach Leamhain things improved - sleet turned to snow and the track quickly became white. It was still wet underneath however and rather slippy. It still amazes me when you can find grip in these circumstances. Needless to say if you'd been on a normal bike you would now be pushing....

Rather than continuing over the bealach to Loch Pattack (an epic river crossing required) I decided to try a trail I'd sussed out earlier in the year - this leaves the main path just before the summit and heads north over the flanks of Geal Charn




This was rather hard going as the path was extreme rock, bog and heather covered by wet snow. My ace rear mudguard set up started to become an embuggereance as ice and snow quickly packed up underneath it and jammed the wheel solid. I ended up breaking a spoke trying to free it. The horizontal blizzard commenced at this point...

After much struggling and swearing (always a good way to let off steam) but ultimately riding much more than pushing, I got to the col at 850m and lo the sun came out!




The descent was a fatbike nirvana - a vague path line through snow covered bog and heather with several burn crossings and one inevitable dodgy river crossing, all done with a huge grin.


Spot the path - Creag Meaghaid in the background looking suitably dramatic.


I regained the track eventually and returned to Lagan by way of the lochside track into the strengthening northerlies - snow was on the way!

Day 2 saw sunshine and about 2-3" of crusty snow. Today I was riding in company - the battle of the Surly's!



A route I haven't done for nigh on 20 years - up Glen Einich to the Loch and back in fine sunshine. I'm here to report that there is no discernable difference between an ICT and a Moonie in these circumstances....



2x drivetrains are definitely at a disadvantage in these conditions. The temps were hovering around freezing and there were numerous burn, river and bog crossings resulting in vast build ups of ice and frozen mud on wheels, brakes and drivetrains. I'd venture to suggest that this is why blowing a huge amount of cash on a full carbon fat bike is somewhat pointless....




Day 3 involved more pleasant trails around loch Vaa followed by some bushwacking and even a mini death march into Burnside.



More please!