A couple of winters ago I learned how to skate ski. Well, let me rephrase that, I started skate skiing. It requires quite a bit of technique to skate ski efficiently and while I had a lot of fun, got some great exercise and enjoyed the trails in the Kettle Moraine State Forest, I didn’t do it enough to get any good at it.
As much as I enjoyed skiing, it was a drag that I had to drive to do it. Skate skiing requires a groomed trail, and the closest place to find one of those is about 25 miles away at Lapham Peak. My wife and I share one car and, really, about the only reason we have a car is because she and my daughter have a horse in Racine and they need the car to get there. So, on weekends they often have the car, which leaves me scrounging for rides from friends.
I strapped my skis to my studded tire equipped Waterford and tried biking there a couple of times, but it was a drag riding home all sweaty, exhausted and cold from skiing. As a result of the lack of nearby skating trails, I found myself skiing less and less. Don’t get me wrong, skiing is a blast, but for a Milwaukee guy who lives a car-lite lifestyle, it is just too hard to do. It ended up that about the only exercise I got by the end of last winter was riding my bike for transportation to work, the store and to go out at night.
This winter has been a whole different story, thanks to the great mountain bike trails along the Menomonee River near my house and to my Schlick Northpaw. Regular readers will remember I broke down and bought a Northpaw in the fall after I saw all the fun people were having doing beach rides. I have done a bit of riding along Lake Michigan right after I got my Northpaw. Beach rides are a great time, but I can ride regular bikes on the road and trails during nice weather.
Thanks to Greg Smith from Schlick Cycles, I am out making ‘paw prints on the Tosa trails about three times a week. It is fun, doesn’t require me to drive, and is a great exercise. Riding a fatbike though freshly fallen snow is a pretty strenuous workout. Although I do stop to take photos and just admire the scenery, it takes me almost three hours to ride 16 miles if I am breaking new trail. It is faster if the trails are packed down a bit, but pedaling those 4 inch tires around the snow, running 8-12 psi, is harder than regular mountain biking no matter what the conditions are.
Group rides are another benefit of joining the fatbike club. Lots of my neighborhood pals now have fatbikes, so it is pretty easy to find a group to ride with on weekends. It is funny, but Facebook has recommended I “friend” a number of people who I recently met on fatbike rides.
A case in point is Angela Theriault. Facebook has been suggesting I request to be friends with Angela for at least a year. You know those things that pop up and say you have 41 friends in common? I may be old-fashioned (or just plain old), but I typically ignore those suggestions until I actually meet someone in person. Today I met Angela on a ride Russell called together.
Angela came to ride the trails with us and brought a positive attitude and her Trek Fuel with 26″ regular mountain bike tires. ‘Tosa Trail regulars Coop, Bubba, Russell and I all had fatbikes for the ride. A good sport, Angela proved with a smile that you certainly don’t need a fatbike to have fun riding the mountain bike trails in the snow, but I think she would admit it is not as easy on skinny tires. Angela is a pretty fast racer in her own right, so the only trouble she had keeping up with the big boys on their big toys, was a lack of traction.
It was great meeting Angela in person, and I had another great winter ride on the trails. Thanks to Russell for putting together a great group ride. Thanks to Milwaukee’s own Schlick Cycles for making the Northpaw, a fabulous fatbike. Meanwhile, my skate skis are on long-term loan to a friend who has two cars, but no fatbike.
Anyone else had the same epiphany of winter fun after splurging on a fatbike?