Here’s a reader’s ride – slash review – slash bed-time story, from one of my ride buddies that I started riding with, back when Cannondale’s mtb’s used to have 24″ rear wheels (over 25 years ago). Andy was always a pain in the ass to go riding with, because he was so f’ing fast and as far as I could tell, had no pain receptors in his legs , what so ever. We’ve kept in touch (on and off) over the years (decades?) and now Andy silk screens the shirts we offer at the fat-bike.com e-store.
When I was 12, I talked my dad into taking me out to Itasca IL so I could try racing BMX bikes. From that very first race I knew I was hooked – fast forward 30+ years and I am still racing BMX bikes. Most recently, I’ve been racing with my two sons. Although BMX is a huge part of my cycling life, (Steve-o, that’s where the Brap Brap Power wheelies come from) I did stray on and off over the years, racing road, mountain, and cyclo-cross to varying degrees of success, and have been a year around cycling commuter for most of my life.
So were does that leave me?………Jaded at times…. I LOVE riding bikes, but over time it became routine and dare I say,….even boring, well about 2-1/2 years ago I hooked up with Gomez (or Gary Lake as I knew him 20 years ago, in our little mountain bike circle of friends) to do some riding at the Southern Kettle trails in Wisconsin, and low and behold – G~mez has this f’in cool red pugsley with jumbo tires…. I was immediately intrigued, and after riding it, I was Sold! He was even running his fatty singlespeed back then, so it really clicked for my riding style. I spent maybe 20 minutes on it, but its all I could think about for the next couple weeks.
Having a garage full of bikes already, I started scheming on how I can justify another bike, not only space wise, but monetarily as well, because my early research told me this was not going to be a cheap endeavor, and as time went on and new bikes were coming out, all it took was that one fatal mouse click on the Salsa web site……And there is was! The Ti Mukluk, $hwaaang! Then the price hit me! A couple more clicks on the mouse and I found my savior (not bejesus) but the all mighty Craig’s List!, I started selling anything that wasn’t bolted down, or hadn’t been used in over a year.
In that time Gomez had introduced me to Tobie at North Central Cyclery and from there my dream bike stared coming together, I put a down payment on a Ti Mukluk frame set and waited patiently for more than a couple months, hoping it might show up in time for my 46th birthday, because in the back of my mind that was the only way I could justify my new purchase, either a birthday present and or my midlife crisis. In the meantime is was collecting parts, some new, some used, and going back to my roots and recent love of single speed riding, I figured why not try something a bit different.
One of the main reasons I went with the Ti Mukluk was the fact I could do just about anything with it, I could run with or without gears, I could carry tons of gear on it, If I was so inclined I could build a set of 29er wheels and tour with it, but my initial build was still driven by the all mighty dollar, so simpler = cheaper. So single speed it was, another thing I wanted to try was a single brake lever set up using a cable splitter, keeping everything simple ended up making the bike look super clean “Sano” as us old-school BMXer’s would say. Tobie and the guys at NCC called it the Biggest Badass BMX bike ever.
Here’s what I like to call the delivery room shot.
Ok, so Now that I’ve got it what am I going to do with it? seeing as how I finally picked it up in mid January 2012, Hell I’m gonna ride it in the Snow! Well mother nature had other plans, so I tooled around on it for awhile, rode it to work a couple times, just waiting for the perfect time and place to really take it out for a good thrashing.
Being a racer at heart, I had been eyeing a couple of snow races, and the BLBBRBK race in DeKalb seemed to be the perfect first race to test it out, but once again mother nature flipped me the big one and the race was cancelled due to no snow! Hmmmm the 1st Wisconsin State Fat Bike Championships was coming up and I’ve got about 2 hours of single track under my belt on the Mukluk…..why not go for it! At least I’d be able to ride it in a Snow race, correction MUD race! Through the magic of the inter-webz, I was able to put together a team of unknowns to play in the mud with me.
I did the first lap, which included a ‘slip’nslide’ as part of the le’mans start and it was mixed with the fear of an untested single brake lever setup and no real experience with the Fat Bike off road, I came back into the transition area with the biggest mud filled grin on my face you’d ever seen! Hell yeah, this bike flat-out rocked! We proceeded to knock off laps, and in the end, wound up placing 2nd (Somewhat in part to some very fast racers having mechanical problems). On the drive home, I smiled the entire way,……I found my love for cycling again!
Since that race I pretty much have ridden the Mukluk exclusively, giving my other bikes a much needed rest, even going out for a couple solo single speed century’s on it. I love the comments it receives and the smiles it puts on peoples faces, but even more so the smile it puts on my face.
I don’t have a lot of the cool touring beauty shots yet, just because there’s not a lot of that stuff where I normally ride, and the couple times I’ve taken it to Kettle or Palos hills, I’m having to much fun to stop and take pictures.
My most recent endeavor was racing it in the 2 man 12 hour Fat Bike Class at the Wausau 24 race, I was fortunate enough to hook up with Uber off-roader Butch Welke as my team mate, and the two of us hammered out 130+ miles of nasty off-road trails in 12 hours, giving us the first place finish the 2 man/12 hour Fat Bike Race, and best over 2/3rds of the “Standard” mountain bike 2 man/12 hour class! In the end I was freakin tired (70 miles off road and single speed fatty will do that to you) but not to tired to smile all the way home, thinking what a gas I had riding my Mukluk!
I have to give HUGE Props to Gomez, for not only being a long time (and long lost at times) friend, but for also helping me get my Mojo back….(((Yeah Baby!))) Some day I’ll throw some gear on the Mukluk and slow down to smell the daisy’s while doing some touring, but until then I plan on riding the f’in wheels off this thing,….which may take some time cause they’re really big!
Andy – aka: Angry Andy