Friday, January 20, 2012

Snow Biking!

Starting to look a lot more like winter around here. Conditions finally justified taking the fat bike out for an honest assessment. I went up to Massabesic Lake Friday morning where 2-3" of fresh powder fell on 2-3" of old snow. Had no idea if any of the trails would be rideable. It would have been lower risk to head south where <2" light powder fell on bare, frozen ground. Regular tires would have been just fine in those conditions.

Wind was really kicking up and dumping snow out of the trees.

I biked around the lake the way the FOMBA Turkey Burner goes. Areas where hikers tamped the old snow down were quite fast. Then I hit a long stretch of untraveled doubletrack. It was work. The interesting thing was it was totally rideable. None of that frustrating barely able to control the bike stuff. The fat bike went where I pointed it. I just had to deliver 2-3x the power to the pedals.

FOMBA Hemlock trail.
Bumping trees usually resulted in getting buried in snow.

I hit a few FOMBA singletracks. These trails rode very nicely with the fat bike. There had been some bike traffic through there when the old snow was soft, packing it some and leaving many ruts under the new powder. Now problem for 4" wide, 10psi tires. I crossed paths with another rider on 2" studs on Hemlock. He was doing fine in the singletrack, but get into the rough on doubletrack, not so fine.

FOMBA Woodpecker trail.

My plan was to ride 3-4hrs and loop around Tower Hill Pond for the climbs. I climbed part way up the gravel road then hooked a left onto a fire road that had some recent truck traffic on it. Maybe logging is still going on back there? About five seconds later, I'm plowing snow with my face. There was glazed ice under the new snow. Fat tires don't do too well on ice. Studs probably wouldn't have helped much either. Body took the hit just fine. Derailleur hanger didn't fare as well and needed "correction."

A hiker with spikey snowshoes came by. I asked if he'd been out before the new snow came. He said yes. I asked if there was a lot of ice under it. Yes, again. I abandoned the Tower Hill Pond loop and worked my way back. I figured I'd go for a run when I got home instead. I finished riding with 20.4mi in 2.4hrs on the Garmin. It was steady, hard tempo work the whole time.

Some initial fat bike observations:
  • The wide Q-factor made my knees and hips a little ornery.  Probably good idea I didn't go 4hrs with hills on first ride.
  • Gyroscopic effect of massive tires is noticeable even at modest speeds going downhill.
  • Fat tires don't make it easy to ride through snow, they just give you back control so you can keep moving.


CB2 said...

I crossed paths with a guy on a Mukluk today. He was walking I was riding*.

*I was going downhill

don said...

Your experience is right on-line with mine. While you can get through snow, the effort is pretty significant. I went out last Sunday on our local snowmobile trails and breaking trail through 6" was serious effort. Figured 2-3 hours and came home after 1.5 soaked from sweat. I'll dress a layer or two lighter next time.

Up any significant grade wasn't happening. Downhill was wicked fun though. Ice under the snow, I was on the ground.

I think it will stay in the quiver, an hour at that wattage outside is still way better than any ride on the trainer. On the only section of packed trail I was on it went really well and my studded bike would have trenched right through. IMO not a question of studs vs. snow bike, the answer is both. The right bike for the right conditions.


Brian B said...

Hi Doug...i think you mentioned it in an earlier post (which i can't seem to find now)...but what did the Muluk wind up costing all-in...if you don't mind sharing?

Hill Junkie said...

Brian - I paid $1599, including shipping to my house.

Brian B said...

Thanks Doug