It’s been a pretty good weekend.
- Man U beat Arsenal in the EPL and have moved up to fourth place.
- Lewis Hamilton won his second F1 World Championship Title.
- Liverpool lost again.
- Prince Harry is still a Ginge, like me.
That would’ve been enough for most people but I wanted to top it all off with a good bike ride on the trails.
Let me back up. Saturday was a strange day. I barely moved from the couch and slept on and off for the whole day. I even slept-in on Sunday morning ’til almost 9am, something I never do.
I’m not sure why but I think it’s ‘cos of this bloody fat bike.
I rode the 29er all summer and put in some pretty good shifts and only ever bonked the one time. Bonking is one of those words which means something entirely different to Brits. It’s odd that whenever a word has an entirely different meaning between the US and the UK, it always means something rude on one side of the pond. I’ve covered this phenomenon elsewhere I think. Bonking to a Brit means having it off, percy filth….you know what I mean….nookie.
In the US it means crashing physically. It’s a term bikers use when they run out of steam completely, and it’s often associated with being dehydrated or under-nourished on rides.
Anyway, the point is that I bonked three times last week - ran out of puff and legs. Each time was on a fairly short ride - 18 miles the first time, after about 2.5 hours, the other two times involved even shorter distances and lower ride times.
I’m starting to realize that riding this fat bike requires considerably more effort than I’d first thought, particularly when there’s snow on the trail. For one thing, it’s a heavy swine. I haven’t actually weighed it but I suspect it’s somewhere around 40 lbs, perhaps a little less. Then add the weight of my winter riding gear plus my survival backpack etc.
But mostly it’s the high rolling inertia of those fuckin’ tires and wheels coupled with the high friction of running on tires which are almost flat.
On the gnarly snowbound trails I’m moving at very slow speeds, practically walking speed, so I’m constantly having to accelerate from almost zero. It takes a lot of force and energy to set those wheels into motion from near standstill. Once they’re turning at speed they’re fine, but on the winter trails, in the snow, they’re rarely turning at speed. It’s simple physics - higher energy is required to set an object into motion and overcome the static inertia.
Plus, I never stop pedaling…..never. On a road ride or even a trail ride on a regular mountain bike there are always moments where you can sit back and roll. Even if it’s only for a few seconds your legs get a chance for a break. Not so with riding in the snow on the fattie. If you stop for a second the bike comes to a halt, even when going down an incline you need to keep pedaling.
I couldn’t figure out at first why my quads have been toast after a shortish 2 hour ride. I can ride 5 or 6 hours on the road and I rarely feel my quads, now they’re sore as heck after a couple hours on the trail.
Another factor is that one’s body is using a lot more energy just to keep warm. I don’t know if this is related to the warmth issue or not, but I seem to be breathing much harder when riding in the cold weather. I’m not sure exactly why that is.
Anyway, all these things add up and it finally caught up with me yesterday when I basically fell off a cliff.
So after I’d gotten my TV sport addiction out of the way at around noon today I was itching to get out and ride. It was a warm day, 40 degrees….warm and rainy. Also quite foggy, so I didn’t want to ride on the roads ‘cos of the poor visibility. So I figured I’d head for the park and ride the trails, for a change 🙂
Then it suddenly occurred to me that it’s hunting season and I could get shot. I figure I’m overdue being shot ‘cos of all the bad JuJu I’ve generated for myself. I have absolutely no idea what the protocol is for hunting in State Parks. Are hunters allowed? Is it safe to go biking? Are there designated areas? I was clueless. Then I realized the Packers were playing the Vikings at noon so there’d be more chance of bumping into Jimmy Hoffa out there than a hunter, so off I went.
Sure enough the Parks are open to hunters and one had better not wear those little reindeer hats when riding around on the bike.
The big orange sign to the left is the first thing I encountered at the trail head. Now a year ago something entirely different would’ve happened at this point. Over my right shoulder, about 100 yards away, was ‘Waterfront Mary’s Bar and Grill’. I drove past their parking lot and it was packed - people out watching the game. A year ago I would’ve said ‘fuck it’, and gone to the bar for chicken wings and beer. But not now. Not now that I’m a tee-totaler and practically a born-again Christian, fer fuck’s sake.
So off I went on my little ride, ready to duck down whenever I heard a BANG!!
Now I decided that for my own safety I’d stick to the main MUPs and avoid the deep-woods trails and the risk of getting an ass full of buckshot. But after a half hour or so of not hearing any gunshots I decided to head into no-mans land to see what’s what.
I haven’t ridden off-road much at Potawatomi State Park, I spend most of my time at Peninsula State Park in Fish Creek, and more recently up at Newport. I rode around a bit in the summer at Potawatomi but to be honest, I’m terrified of snakes, so I’ve always been reluctant to get into the deep woods on some of the single-track paths and trails, for that reason. But in the winter….
Anyway, the trails are brilliant, I love this place. There’s a lot of dismounting and hauling ass/bike, which is good fun. It’s a chance to catch my breath and occasionally to whip out the phone and take a few pics, check my stocks and answer a few ‘where’s my order’ emails etc.
It took me at least 10 minutes to drag the bike up this slippery rock face. Why? I don’t know. I could’ve taken another route but what the heck.
Anyway, it was good to be back out today and good to have some mild riding weather. I didn’t clock many miles, about 18 again, in a little over two hours, but it was a good workout and a lot of fun.