Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Ice Cream Truckin' Lake Michigan

A couple weeks ago, my family and I made a quick weekend trip to my ancestral homeland in northern Michigan. I rode my Ice Cream Truck along the Lake Michigan shoreline, which was a mix of sand, rocks, standing water, mud, and brush. During the ride, I shot the footage, edited, and spliced the entirety of this video all on my phone. So easy.

When you ride a fat tire bike a lot in a non-Winter setting, as I do, you get a lot of uninformed commentary from people you encounter. Other bike people, who aren't fat bike savvy, love to point out that the fat tires must be slow, or extra hard to pedal uphill. Morgan Taylor writes in an article about his 6 months riding the ICT, "[I] was convinced that fat bikes were so far outside the realm of acceptable mountain bikes that I chose to write them off." After my six months on the ICT, I like to think that my bike rides uphill better than a road bike rides over rocks and sand. As my friend Guitar Ted wrote recently, "Fat tires don't make you slow- They set you free." You don't have to confine yourself to roads or maintained trails - you just go off in the woods, or on the beach, or wherever you want, and ride. And if you have decent tires, and muscular legs, like I do, you can haul ass on the road and make all the fair weather riders think you have superhuman ability.

So here's a deal. Surlybikes has some overstock on the ICT Ops, in all sizes from XS to XXL, and they've reduced the price to get these things out the door. Regular price is $2450. With the current pricing, while it lasts, I'll sell you one for $2000 plus tax.

Earlier today, I added a front rack to mine. Summer bike-camping trips carrying way too much gear will be easy now.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Taking the long way

Last Saturday, I showed up at 9am for a group ride I have been leading in my neighborhood. Because of poor advertising on my part and conflicts for some of the regulars, nobody showed up. I considered that I could go home for some rest and/or coffee, but I decided to get out and explore a bit.

I rode along this picturesque drainage ditch at Crosby Farm. Afterward, I snaked through the familiar trails that I often ride when I have a few extra minutes on my way to work.

I "dipped" my wheels in the river a few times when getting around deadfalls and other obstacles.

I continued along the river, even over the rocky bank. I lowered my tire pressure, and it was easy. I thought about what a roadie acquaintance said to me a few days earlier as I outrolled him down a hill and then kept pace with him on my ICT: "I bet it doesn't go up hills very fast". He was obviously trying to disparage my "fad bike", but whatever. Truth be told, I'm not that fast up hills on any bike. But any bike that can save me a few seconds up a hill wouldn't have a chance with sand and river rocks, so there is that.

The rocks got bigger, but I was careful to pick my line through the boulders.

I took the water route here, and got wet feet. Those underwater rocks are slippery.

I didn't have time to ride into this intriguing tunnel.

By the time I got to work after 3 hours of riding, I was in such a good mood. Any bike can take me on adventures, but this one seems especially good at it.

Later that evening, I was able to get out for a ride with my 9yo on her Straggler. She's a strong rider. 
I think I need a faster bike to keep up with her.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Long term relationship

If you've known me in the context of bicycling for any length of time, you probably noticed that I don't tend to practice long-term monogamy with my bicycles. I generally alternate between three and five bikes, and I seldom keep any of them in the stable for longer than 6 months. There's always a reason to try something new, to gain some (usually theoretical) advantage for a certain type of riding.

But last October, I bought one of the (then) brand new Surly Ice Cream Truck framesets, and built it to suit my tastes. Around the time I started riding my ICT, I sold off my other bikes, including a Moonlander, Disc Trucker, ECR, and a hot-rodded Torker Graduate (poor man's Straggler). At the time I sold them, I told myself that I'd eventually replace them with something. But in 6 months of riding only the ICT, my desire for another bike is near zero. Here is a photo from today's commute, by the way:

This contraption isn't going to appeal to weight weenies or anybody hung up on the idea that skinny tires roll better, BUT THOSE PEOPLE ARE MISTAKEN. This beast rolls and rolls and then it hits the bumps in the road and it keeps rolling. I've ridden pavement and gravel and dirt and mud and ice and snow and rocks and curbs and railroads and corporate landscaping, and it handles it all even with my mediocre riding skills. I've been doing a neighborhood group ride, and last week we rode 17 miles including the High Bridge (uphill direction) and some hills in West Saint Paul in just over an hour. I don't normally advocate riding that fast, but it's nice to know that it can be done if necessary. Remember that I'm about 50 pounds overweight and I've never been particularly athletic, so you can probably go faster, not that you should care.

The other thing that keeps me from getting another bike is that the fat tires have spoiled me. I get to test ride a lot of different bikes, and one thing that stands out is that normal tires ride really harshly. The 3", 4", and 5" plus-size and fat tires make the road feel as if it's paved with marshmallows. Marshmallows that magically have excellent traction and low rolling resistance, of course.

Granted, I don't do road racing, brevets, and I seldom ride manicured singletrack. If you do those things, maybe a different type of bike will work better for you. I just ride everywhere and try to find adventure along the way. For me, the ICT is totally sensible.