Missing Some Fatbike Love
See that face in the header image? It’s an uncharacteristic shot of a sad Team Colin.
I really want to go for a fatbike ride.
I really really want to rip a snow-covered forest trail.
I really really REALLY want to cover my body in sweat-wicking layers of cloth, englove my hands in wind-breaking bundles of Gore Tex, and insulate feet in a neoprene sheath of booty warmth.
I just wanna ride! Well, I still ride frequently at this time of year, nestled in the heat conditioned cocoon of Joyride 150, but I want to get outside (cue pouting, foot stomp, and a bit of petulance).
Alas, it’s not possible because I don’t have a fatbike.
Wha… Team Colin doesn’t have a fatbike?
Nope. Team Colin does not have a fatbike, which brings me back to the title of this blog: Arrrrrgh. The number of “r”s indicates my level of frustration (and if I start adding “more “r”s, and g”s or “h”s, look out.) and I am really frustrated with this lack of a bike.
Oops. Hey, who put that link there? Did you click on it?
Yep, I’m that guy. I’m the guy who wrote about how EVERYONE needs a fatbike. I even wrote a little Fatbiking 101 post, extolling the many virtues of the fatbiking (and there are sooooo many). So, if any of my three regular readers have been paying attention to my blog in the past (probably not my mom though because she always tells me my posts are too long) I know what I wrote last year, and it’s still true, and EVERYONE needs a fatbike, and I need a fatbike, and I WILL have a fatbike again.
Just not right now.
Aw dang it. Talking about fatbiking really really really makes me want to go for a fatbike ride.
I want to get outside and grunt and sweat and trudge my way through some sweet, snow-covered, singletrack. I want to freeze my extremities while my beard ices and my snot flies and my lungs burst and my fingers feel like they’re tingly frozen nubs. I want to nail an ice patch and wait to see if my tires lose purchase or find their own line. I want to feel the pain of frozen leg muscles trying to push a few hundred pounds of bike and rider up a long, steep climb and battle against steamy glasses and buckets of contained sweat. I want the feeling of bossness that only comes after a tough ride.
This is something that a non-rider might not get. Cycling isn’t easy, it’s rarely fun, and it usually hurts (if you’re doing it right)…and that’s altogether awesome and amazing.
To clarify for my non cycling readers (Um, so I’m basically talking to my mom here):
- Riding isn’t easy, WHICH IS AWESOME…
- Riding is rarely fun WHICH IS EQUALLY AWESOME AND MORE FUN THAN PRETTY MUCH ANYTHING ELSE ON THE WORLD…
- Riding usually hurts THE BEST HURT EVER.
And I miss it so much. By the way, I also miss the rides that are VERY easy, and VERY fun, and don’t hurt, but I’m not talking about THOSE rides right now.
Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh. I just wanna ride (I stomped both feet that time).
Oh, and the worst part of what I’m now calling “THE 2018 FATBIKE DEBACLE” is the FOMO. Yeah, the Fear Of Missing Out. I’ve already missed two Dan Marshall rips (the Cannondale Fatbike Series), the Albion Fatbike Festival (which is happening while I’m writing this), a bunch of Durham Forest action on the DMBA’s newly groomed trails, a Northumberland rip (or two or three) with my riding buddy John, a billion weekly Riot Rides (which I’ve never be invited to and even if I was, I’d never be able to keep up with his crew, but still), maybe a rip with my buddy Raf (even though he lives waaay west), the Hydrocut and/or Grand RIver with Steve, and….aw man, just so much missing out.
It hurts–and not the good kind of hurt like riding in the cold with icy sheets of frozen cheek. It hurts like the kind of pain that rips me to the core and pulls my guts into a tangled mess of regret, remorse, and self pity.
Okay, it’s not that bad, but close. I mean, I’m missing out on some pretty sweet rides. Yes, totally a First World problem, but as First World problems go, this is pretty bad. I’m not a coffee drinker, but I imagine it’s like going to Starbucks and waiting in a super long line only to find out the latte machine isn’t working.
And I’m feeling like this ALL day, EVERY day there’s still snow on the ground.
Again, it’s not that horrible in the big picture, but still, I just wanna ride!
I’m guessing that in response to this very contentious blog post, you’re probably saying:
“Just buy a fatbike dummy”
I’d like to, but I can’t/won’t/haven’t…yet.
It’s simple. Last year, I demoed three very sweet fatbikes. Then I rode MY fatbike. Well, when you ride gold..everything else is black and white.
I got back onto my bike, and it just didn’t measure up. At about the same time, a buddy pleaded with me to buy my fatbike, so I sold it to him. It was probably a bad move (because 2018 FATBIKE DEBACLE), but he really wanted it, and honestly, it was so very tough for me to go back to riding it. My fatbike was a Norco Bigfoot 6.2 (I know, sweeeeeet) but it always felt a but small for me (get it, didn’t measure up…) and after riding top tier Norco Ithaqua, Trek Farley, and Salsa Beargrease models, I realized the geometry was not for race-ready rippage.
It’s like test driving an Astin Martin, but your regular car is a macaroon. Not LIKE a macaroon, an actual macaroon. That’s how different these bikes were.
Again, probably a bad move to sell my bike, and a loooong (and probably unnecessary) story about it, but the end result is my current Arrrrrrrrrrgh situation.
My criteria for a fatbike is simple. Carbon with tight, race-bred geometry. It doesn’t have to be a beastly Norco Ithaqua 6.1 that fit me like a glove, or that Farley 9.9 (with those sweet carbon wheels and a geometry that the owner, Matt Morrish says “should be illegal in a race”), or the Beargrease XO1, with a custom build and those buttery smooth Hope hubs. But it has to be light and tight. Coincidentally, that’s just how I like my macaroons…
But there’s more than–and here’s where the story takes a weird turn–I consciously made the decision to refrain from a fatbike purchase this year (which, by the way, would likely be the Salsa Beargrease NX–size XL–that’s currently sitting in my bike shop).
I made the decision for several reasons.
1. I have bikes, and young kids–a bunch of bikes and two adorable bundles of offspring. Not a good mix because riding is a huge time commitment, and kids are a bigger (and often funner) time commitment. As much as I love a sweet ride, my kids are absolute joy. Honestly, they’re just really fun to hang with. They won’t be young forever, so balancing time between them and cycling is a challenge. Plus, it’s kinda not cool to leave my wife with ALL the duties while I’m out with my buddies being awesome. She has NEVER stopped me from riding (actually, just the opposite, she encourages me) but it still leaves me wondering how she picks up all the slack of my riding absences.
2. I race A LOT in the spring and Fall seasons, and racing consumes A LOT of time. It’s actually kind of nice to pull back from the vibe (even though I really miss it) for a few months and ride at night when my kids are asleep instead of being away from them for an entire day most weekends. Also, see above, re: wife.
3. Money. Moolah. Dinero. Cheddar. Like I said earlier, I want a certain level of bike, and that costs some serious coin. I just did some minor repairs on only three of my bikes, and it wasn’t cheap. With bikes for almost every discipline (except DH, and the aforementioned fatbike situation), the cost for purchase (and repairs) adds up. I feel like it’s a bit irresponsible at this point of my life. Plus, I did 18 races last year. Forget the time away from my family, take a quick tally of the reg fees, gas and such. It ain’t a cheap hobby. If my kids want to go to school one day, it’s probably wise to squirrel a bit of cash away. It’s great to joke about N+1 or S-1, but I really need to be practical here.
Plus, and this is totally a real thing, I don’t want my other bikes to feel left out.
I know my bikes think about me.
I mean, they have to be thinking about me.
They think about me, right?
And when I buy my fatbike (and I will buy a fatbike), it will think about me too, and I’ll think about it, and we’ll live happily ever after in frost-bitten, icy-cold happiness (and that’s a good thing).
Before I end this communication, I have to say I recognize this shouldn’t even be a problem. If I hadn’t said “Hey Norco, can I demo a bike?” last year, I would have never figured my weaknesses on a bike (which are numerous and varied), I would have never know the true badassedry of a sweet fatbike, and I wouldn’t be in this predickalment (that’s how my daughter says predicament–I know, adorbs, AMIRITE). However, between me and my big mouth, my dozens of weaknesses (read: extensive suckery), and those three fatbike reviews last year, I just can’t settle.
Although there is a ray of light. Graciously, my pal Dan Marshall has offered his bike as a loaner, and my bike shop has offered a demo as well, so I’ll probably make it out to at least one fatbike race this year (or maybe two…) and I can handle that.
So the snot will once again fly this year (totally as gross–and awesome–as it sounds) and that’s not half bad. Until then, I’m on my trainer in the basement, and at Joyride 150 as often as I can, and I’ll just have to put a lid on that giant can of FOMO.
A good ride cleanses the soul and washes the spirit, but my kids need a dad, I’ll have to make due with tobogganing, ice skating, and spending time with my two little best friends–and that’s pretty awesome.
So I won’t be riding outdoors much this year.
But I’ll be connecting with my kids and having just as much fun.
Hey 2018-19 Fatbike Season: Save a spot for Team Colin!
Oh, and I’ll (hopefully) see you at the Devil’s Glen, on February 11, at the third race in the Substance Projects Cannondale Fatbike Series. I turn 46 a few days before the race, and it’ll be the third time I get to do a fatbike race for my birthday (the Kingston Snophy in 2016, and the Snumbler in 2017). Fingers crossed, I’ll be spending this year’s birthday freezing, ripping, and loving every second of it.
I know fatbiking isn’t just a winter endeavour, but between a singlespeed, a geared hardtail, and so much sweet gravel, that’s my reality. I’d love to hear about you and your fatbike, or anything else you have to say about bikes (or anything else). Comment on this post, or fire an email my way (firstname.lastname@example.org).