It was Sunday the 11th and 4 p.m. had hit. Travis and I got the outdoor display fatbikes inside and started to close up shop. (For those who may not know, I'm now working at Decorah Bicycles!)
We were going to go for our first fatbike night ride together in long while and I readied myself for a adventure. Boy, did it deliver!
The snow lacked moisture and it felt like I was riding on white, sandy powder. There are different snows and this one was not easily packable. My front tire would skid or want to slip out from under me and I would have struggles with traction. My frustrations came forth and I was feeling pretty fed up- it's all too easy to forget that snow can be a challenge.
Something funny that happens- you focus so much on what you can't ride, that you simply ignore all of what you can ride!
After we came out of IPT we opted to turn our lights on. The snow all around us glistened as if someone had dumped all the glitter of the world in our area. Soon I had another lesson with fine-tuning my technique- not heavily relying on my brakes. A rolling tire is more beneficial than a sliding tire, so I was told to use my back brake more than my front- to make it more of a controlled roll. Talk about trusting your handling skills!
We made our way up to the Pines. I struggled, oh did I struggle. Putting a foot down here and there, but ultimately making my way.
The east pines weren't too bad by any means, but when it came to the west pines- there was challenge because of drifting.
More fatbiking lessons learned: sometimes you have to pedal slowly as that will give your tire more time to dig in and give you better traction. Slow and controlled pedal strokes are vital, plus working on balance is so important! Also, you may find that if you shift into one gear harder than usual it may help you keep going. If you are in too easy of a gear, you may find your back tire spinning out from under you.
With all of these new lessons in riding, I picked my way through the drifts and had a really successful ride out of the west pines!
The upper half of Little Bighorn was next, and at the end of that we discussed whether to try Fred's or go down Rocky Road. The decision was to go down Rocky Road as I wanted to see Fred's in the daylight.
So we "let go" and rolled fast down the rocky hill, taking care to stay in the middle where there had been other tracks. At the bottom Travis had told me I had ridden very well as I kept my line straight and maintained good control and balance.
I climbed up the Luge successfully, where Travis actually had slipped out! Even with all of the new lessons and struggles I had, I could admit to having a really good time.
Remember- there are different snows and the trail conditions can change within hours. Don't base your fatbiking experience on one ride (especially if it wasn't the most fun you've ever had.) You may find yourself challenged at times, maybe you'll tip over, but that's all part of the fun!