By Jeff Price
During the brief 19 months of owning my Mukluk, most of my rides have been solo with just the odd one being with fellow large-girth-tyre-lovers. So when details of the 2015 Forth Fat was announced a few months back I made a note in the diary.
After loading the gear in the car I made the 490 kilometre journey north to North Berwick, east of Edinburgh. I arrived when it was starting to go dark just after 9pm and there was only one other fat bike rider I’d met before so I was keen to meet up with Tim and have some well-earned beers at the campsite. However within minutes of arriving I was soon introduced to the others and was made to feel really welcome. The beers flowed which helped aid the sleep as the rain hit through the night.
After the usual faffing and squeezing of tyres in the morning, I made my way to the meeting point on the seafront. One by one fat bikes started to arrive, Surlys, Salsas, On-Ones, Specialised, Konas, 9:Zero:7s, Charge and probably a few other names as well. Tyre squeezing and short demo rides were now common place as well as introductions to one another.
After the customary group photo shoot on the beach a count was made and it turned out that 53 fat bikes had made the trip. At that point I felt that this was something big and would be one of those rides that you do not forget, a memory ride.
Bruce aka CoastKid led us through the small towns’ High Street, which had the locals looking on in amazement at the sight and sound of the fat bike procession. We soon turned onto some singletrack which skirted the boundaries of the local golf course and onto the paths through the fields. A short climb followed which gave way to some magnificent views over the Forth Estuary and the rolling hills in the distance. This is where the ride started to get sweet as we picked up speed descending down to the coast on rutted singletrack which have been shown on many of CoastKids videos. By this point the overcast skies were clearing to make way for the sun to shine down on us as we approached the famous midget submarines at Aberlady Head.
From here it was a case of following the coast east back to North Berwick. There was vast open beaches as the tide was out, some very testing rock sections where you had to be at your best to stay upright especially on the slippy seaweed! Even now I’m still amazed at how well my Salsa handles the rough stuff and the traction from the Nates was awesome which gave you confidence.
Ice creams were eaten on the harbour wall as we watched the last remaining riders make their way to the finishing point. Pizza and beers were consumed during the evening as we said our goodbyes to those who couldn’t make the second day.
We woke again to grey skies with rain in the air which would later give way to broken sunshine once again which helped the hangover cure! The ride on day 2 was supposed to be another social one but the head winds later in the day made you work for every pedal revolution. Again along the coast but with more testing rock sections for those who fancied their chances. Picking your way through the rock pools away from the very slippy seaweed and rocks proved a tricky affair but there was some good skills on show to pass the test. For me this was the highlight of the rides, standing up on the pedals to get a better view as I quickly tried to piece a route together and avoiding wet feet. As we approached the sand dunes some of the group made the slog up to the top to pick their lines for a fun descent on the beach. A couple of ‘spills’ gave the waiting crowd of fat bikers something to cheer at, with the only damage being a bit of pride!
This is when the wind picked up as we got to the marshland, and it was tough going for everyone as each rider tried to get shelter from the one in front (I know I did!).
After a quick change back at the cars, the Whitekirk Golf Club fed us well to replenish the spent calories. For me it was another long drive home but not until I said my goodbyes to some new friends.
Bring on Forth Fat 2016……..