Written & Photographed By – Euan Pennington
Recently home renovation has been the story of our lives, until at last, this week cabin fever set in. Our 1970s shabby brick veneer now looks like a 1970s smart brick veneer, and we needed a sanity saver. Having just purchased a new 9:Zero:7 I was keen to ride, and my partner, never having ridden on snow, was keen to take the venerable Pug out for a spin. I suspect there are not many, two fat-bike households here in Melbourne, but we are a lucky one, so after an overnight “dump” in the hills it was time to hit the froggan for some much needed cycle based shenanigans.
We headed up to Lake Mountain, the nearest snow to us here in the Big Smoke, although the name is misleading. It is not a lake, and certainly not a mountain, crouching as it does with its head precariously at the snowline in a good year. (Then again, we drove from Bayswater, nowhere near the bay or the water, so what’s in a name anyway). You North Americanists would drive past, looking for the foothills, but here on the hottest driest continent on earth it is a destination of note for tourists who have never seen snow at all. With our two inch dump covering the bare dirt, and experience in past years of riding the ski trails, we were primed for adventure.
Unfortunately we were met by a closed minded ski patroller who assumed we were there to rip up trails and endanger the life of small children, possibly filming a Red Bull video in the process, and were told in no uncertain terms that we were not welcome to ride where I had in past years. Hmm, trail advocacy and access issues are here in the Antipodes too. We were not about to head home without riding, though, so we took to the bark covered tree strewn ungroomed overgrown summer trails, and what a blessing in disguise this humourless chap turned out to be.
The environment was gorgeous, the snow untouched, we saw not another person all day, and had a blast. Is it a bike or a bulldozer? We rode things that looked unridable, constantly challenged our riding skill and balance, pushed and carried more than we would have chosen to, got soaked by slush and loved it. My partner, a mountain biker but not previously a fat biker, couldn’t get the smile from her face.
Here we find how fatbikes can provide an unlooked for but welcome adventure by opening up terrain that would not be accessible on a different bike. With an open mind and a willingness to explore there is a wealth of experiences waiting to be had. Of course, this is the concept of the micro adventure, which is really what we had – a day where no one knew where we were, we relied on each other, and we had no destination or agenda – just ride and appreciate and share time. Wake up in Suburbia, spend a day in the snow dodging wombat poo, home for tea and toast and lashings of ginger beer – marvelous stuff.
For many readers I imagine I am preaching to the converted, but if you are just starting out on your fatbike mission, don’t think it has to be all about crossing Alaska in nothing but you underpants, there is joy to be had all around. The main thing is to just get out and ride, and share it with friends, because you never know where your bike might take you.
editor’s note: We can’t agree more, Euan! Happy Trails everybody! ~gomez~