Tag Archives | winter

2017 Fat Bike Nationals

This past Saturday I drove down to Grand Rapids to watch and photograph the Men’s and Women’s Pro Fat Bike Nationals. Lucky for me the Pro races didn’t start until 11 AM so I had plenty of time to sleep in, eat breakfast, watch soccer, and drink numerous cups of coffee before making the hour and a half drive. Unlucky for the race, Grand Rapids was unusually void of snow. While the absence of snow on a January day in Grand Rapids was indeed odd, it sure made for some fast racing!

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Ice Road Photography

So far the winter has not been kind. Snow has been scarce, freezing rain, ice, and sleet have been plentiful, and my riding has been limited to just two rides in 2017 thus far. My first ride on New Year’s Day on wonderfully groomed fat bike trails, and my second was a twenty-two mile loop on dirt roads near my home that were slick, frozen sheets of solid ice. The ride was dare not attempted with regular tires, and even after swapping over to the expensive, but worth every penny, 45NRTH Dillinger 4 studded tires I still often found myself with a kung-fu death grip on the bars; rolling along muttering prayers to the Ride Gods in hopes of keeping my collarbone–and my camera–intact.

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Few & Far Between

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The weather here in Michigan has been sort of psycho the past couple of weeks, and rides outside have been few and far between. Despite heavy snow and wind last week I was able to sneak out for a couple of snow covered dirt road rides.

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Lack of Miles

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Farm irrigator waiting for summer. [Fuji X-T10]

Two or three rides a week on the fatty, hiking and some snowshoeing was getting me through the winter just fine. Then we here in central Michigan went into a freeze/thaw/freeze cycle that has us with little snow but lots of slick, rock hard ice just lying in wait to break a coccyx. It’s basically the worst that winter can offer. Because of that–even with studded tires– I’ve been lucky to get one ride a week in lately. Hell, even my last attempt at a hike in the woods of the local county park was thwarted by the heavily used trails being stomped down into a solid sheet of foot print marked ice. [insert drunken sigh here]

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Winter’s Ugliness

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As lovers of the outdoors, we like to think that all of our winter activities are done in pristine white snow. Rolling fat bike trails packed tight, or skiing on trails groomed to perfection. Sadly, that is not always the case in winter. Temperatures rise and fall, snow melts in the day, freezes overnight, and then sleet and rain falls to compound the mess. Trails become useless, snow becomes slush, and mud becomes deep–it’s quite unattractive, but still worth documenting in my opinion.

This past weekend I did a quick two-hour ride that had me rolling over a little bit of everything that winter in mid-Michigan could throw at me: ice, snow, mud, slush, water, gritty sand, and more mud.

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Plan B

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A planned solo fat bike ride in the woods earlier this week needed to be aborted due to several inches of fresh snow and a lack of recent grooming. Knowing this was a real possibility I threw my snowshoes in the car just in case conditions turned pear shaped; my “Plan B.”

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