As luck (and Mother Nature) would have it, nearly all the beautiful snow we had a week ago, had withered away from three days of incessant rain. Not that I really needed snow to ride the Mukluk, now named Fatty Bo Batty, but it’s at least a feature of enjoying these fat bikes. Instead, and maybe better in some ways, we have frozen ground-the kind that makes every singletrack seem like oak leaf pavement. Except for a few patches of ice here and there, the trail was high and dry….and fast. I determined my tire pressure to be around 8 pounds front and rear and until I really have a handle on perfect pressure per riding condition, it seemed fine. No loss of traction or comfort, yet not too slow.
I headed back to Levis Mound to accomplish three things-GPS all the new trail we built this year, try out a helmet cam to video some footage and give the Mukluk 2 another good shakedown. Once I had the GPS on and connecting to satellites starting a new track, camera shooting and everything else stowed, the bike headed down the trail. What a difference in speed today-the frozen ground made for a rocket ride and I could really carve into the corners. It amazes me how well this bike handles, and just like the previous ride-I forgot I was on a fat bike and just appreciated riding again. Some of the bridges coming up I was concerned about, but no worries, they were ice free with just a powder on snow on them. After chatting with a couple friends on standard bikes along the way, I mapped out Wolf Run, a flowy mile + singletrack which pulls riders out to Trow Mound. I knew Sidewinder, the next trail to GPS would be one I’d have to ride Fatty on to really get a feel for these bikes.
Upon arrival, a quick water break and camera set up and soon “we” were rolling along the top of the world on Sidewinder. There are 4 sketchy spots on Sidewinder for most riders (and myself to some degree), the first being “Trappers corner” where skinny trail ramps up and over a large rock, bounces over some exposure on the back side and takes a sharp left. Going down here means you’ll keep going down…a long way. The Muk and the big forgiving Larry and Endomorph cleaned that first test easily-whew. As the ride continued around the super narrow north end, it seemed the tire contact patch ate up about half the tread width…which is good. After flying under the rock outcroppings and porkie poop, the first bridge crossing arrived and really not a problem. Just around the corner however, is a sketchy boulder ascent with a big exposure on the outboard side-recently, one of our trail builders went off here and it’s a long way til you hit ground. The best tact is to get the front wheel dead center on the rock and pull the bike thru underneath and over (a bit trickier for me getting used to platform pedals) and on this day, it worked again. Sidewinder throws one more bridge at you-the geo cache bridge, which is fairly narrow and suspended over thin air, again, calling for all of your attention. With no ice on it, crossing wasn’t a problem, the Salsa took me through the tight corners easily. I’d have to say, on a lot of sections on this trail, I felt more confident than on my “normal” 29er in negotiating the rocks and roots and places they can pitch you off balance. After finishing up Sidewinder, I had one more test-full bore downhill speed run on the Moundbounder ski trail.
This was the one section of trail that was almost completely covered in hardpack snow, so I kept the video going and rolled the Sram shifter to the big ring. I’m sure the audio track of this decent sounds like a let engine because it seemed like I broke thru the sound barrier. The bike rocketed down the three steep pitches and I prayed the big tires would hold on the corners (they did…easily) and I’d not surprise another trail user (deer, fisher, wolf or hunter) at full speed. It was all grins when the bike settled down onto Flatlander at the bottom and the leisurely cruise back to Levis Mound for more exploring of this bikes’ capacities. I’d finish up the day on Cliffhanger, and Porky Point, two of our classic trails at Levis with a lot of whoop factor and make one attempt at Lucy’s Loop, our skills trail near the trailhead. No problem on the skinnys and teeters there and it was the easiest crossing of the rock garden ever because of the big tires. From that point on, it was a one track mind to reach my Sand Creek Brewery beverage waiting back at the truck….day two testing was complete and it seemed no matter what Mother Nature put under the wheels of this bike, it could be ridden and enjoyed and leave me smiling.