global fatbike day 2015

Wow.  Just wow.

Global Fatbike Day celebrations here in St. John’s just continue to grow and become increasingly popular.  In fact, we didn’t just celebrate with a day, we celebrated with a long weekend.  Here’s the quick version of how things went down here:

  • Thursday night: Fun ‘n’ Fast hosts an open house;
  • Friday: Mother Nature blesses us with 25 cm of fresh snow;
  • Saturday: group ride with beers and burgers after;
  • Sunday: huge turnout for our public event in Pippy Park.
Fun 'n' Fast gets the weekend rolling!

Fun ‘n’ Fast gets the weekend rolling!

 

After the 25 cm of snow on Friday a small group of us met at Steve H's on Saturday to celebrate the official Global Fatbike Day.

After the 25 cm of snow on Friday a small group of us met at Steve H’s on Saturday to celebrate the official Global Fatbike Day.

When in doubt, let it out. Soft conditions on Saturday meant looooow tire pressures.

When in doubt, let it out. Soft conditions on Saturday meant looooow tire pressures.

Mel showing off his new RSD "The Mayor".

Mel showing off his new RSD “The Mayor”.

Some guy named Guy styling it in the woods.

Some guy named Guy styling it in the woods.

Post-ride session in Steve's garage.

Post-ride session in Steve’s garage.

Sunday was the big event!

Sunday was the big event!

Canary Cycles and Cychotic brought lots of bikes for people to demo and drew huge crowds to their tent. That baby blue Stache 5 was te bike I really wanted to see. 29+ is in my future.

Canary Cycles and Cychotic brought lots of bikes for people to demo and drew huge crowds to their tent. That baby blue Stache 5 was the bike I really wanted to see. 29+ is in my future.

Fun 'n' Fast had bikes for people to demo up at North Bank Lodge.

Fun ‘n’ Fast had bikes for people to demo up at North Bank Lodge.

More than 40 people were on hand for the group ride around Pippy Park. Thanks to the efforts of Ross, Darren and Steve we had groomed trails to ride on.

More than 40 people were on hand for the group ride around Pippy Park. Thanks to the efforts of Ross, Darren and Steve we had groomed trails to ride on.

Going up!

Going up!

This year's ride even included a celebrity sighting - Jason Mamoa.

This year’s ride even included a celebrity sighting – Jason Momoa.

A pause in the woods to catch our breath.

A pause in the woods to catch our breath.

The after party at North Bank Lodge. Many thanks to Canary Cycles for providing the pizza!

The after party at North Bank Lodge. Many thanks to Canary Cycles for providing the pizza!

 

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big o manufacturing fenders

St. John’s, Newfoundland is a wet, windy and cold place.  These factors combine to make riding here challenging.  Over the years I’ve figured out ways to eliminate the excuses for not riding – proper clothing, for instance, or DIY tire studding when the trails turned to nothing but ice.  Now I have eliminated one more excuse:  “the trails are too wet”.  Enter full fenders for fatbikes.

Big O Manufacturing fenders get strong reviews on-line so I took the plunge.  They don’t come cheap:  listed at $115 USD for the ones to fit my Pugsley they also charged a flat rate of $60 USD for shipping.  Gulp.  The good news was that after my order was shipped I was refunded $20 USD shipping overcharge.  So, to my door the fenders cost me $225 CDN.  They arrived in less than 10 days.

The fenders and hardware arrived nicely secured in the box.

The fenders and hardware arrived nicely secured in the box.

The quality of the materials is evident; the fenders are strong but flexible, the brackets are quality aluminum and the hardware stainless steel.  The instructions could be a bit better, but that’s a minor quibble.  The front fender requires you to drill two holes and the rear three.  Start to finish for me was about 1.5 hours.

Here is the finished product.

Here is the finished product.

We had just been through a couple of very wet and cold November weeks so the conditions to put these to the test were perfect.  I headed out for a two hour gravel grind on the back roads in The Goulds.  The results were everything I could hope for.  The fenders were solid, they did not rattle and I stayed very clean and dry.

Typical Goulds back road conditions: wet and muddy.

Typical Goulds back road conditions: wet and muddy.

Before fenders legs typically look like this.

Before fenders legs typically look like this.

After fenders. This is what my legs looked like after two hours in very wet andmuddy conditions.

After fenders. This is what my legs looked like after two hours in very wet and muddy conditions.

cottonwood trail, kluane national park

The highlight of my trip to Yukon (in a trip filled with many spectacular experiences) was a bikepacking trip on the Cottonwood Trail in Kluane National Park.  The trail itself is 83 km long and all but approximately 7 km of it (from km 74 to 81) is rideable.  The unrideable part is one heck of a hike-a-bike; not impossible, but hard. 

We rode the trail clockwise, beginning on Mush Lake Road.

We rode the trail clockwise, beginning on Mush Lake Road.

Another view of the route.

Another view of the route.

This is the elevation profile of the route. We liked doing the route clockwise because we gained elevation early in the trip (and quickly!) but then gradually worked our way down, mostly on singletrack.

This is the elevation profile of the route. We liked doing the route clockwise because we gained elevation early in the trip (and quickly!) but then gradually worked our way down, mostly on singletrack.

We brought topo maps but found ourselves referring to the "Detailed Description" from the Park site most frequently. If this is your first time on the trail I recommend it strongly that you print off a copy of this and use it to aid in navigation.

We brought topo maps but found ourselves referring to the “Detailed Description” from the Park site most frequently. If this is your first time on the trail I recommend it strongly that you print off a copy of this and use it to aid in navigation.

Mush Lake Road was a mostly pleasant and fun 16 km ride.

Mush Lake Road was a mostly pleasant and fun 16 km ride.

Crossing a channel of Alder Creek.

Crossing a channel of Alder Creek.

Overall the route is well marked - look for these posts (some have toppled over) and/or moose racks to guide you.

Overall the route is well marked – look for these posts (some have toppled over) and/or moose racks to guide you.

DCIM100GOPRO

Charles enjoying the alpine singletrack.

Charles enjoying the alpine singletrack.

This route just kept on giving.

This route just kept on giving.

We did this route in 2 days, one night, making camp at km 46.6, shown here. We travelled for 7.5 hours on day one and 10 hours on day two.

We did this route in 2 days, one night, making camp at km 46.6, shown here. We travelled for 7.5 hours on day one and 10 hours on day two.

Charles relaxing at camp.

Charles relaxing at camp.

Day 2 started with a brief water crossing...

Day 2 started with a brief water crossing…

...and then became endless alpine meadow singletrack.

…and then became endless alpine meadow singletrack.

Where Victoria Creek enters into Louise Lake. We worried about this crossing as it has the potential to be impassable. We found it challenging and were very cautious, only brining one bike across at a time with the person NOT carrying the bike bracing the person who was.

Where Victoria Creek enters into Louise Lake. We worried about this crossing as it has the potential to be impassable. We found it challenging and were very cautious, only brining one bike across at a time with the person NOT carrying the bike bracing the person who was.

Kathleen Lake.

Kathleen Lake.

The hike-a-bike up from Kathleen Lake is hard...

The hike-a-bike up from Kathleen Lake is hard…

...but the view is outstanding. Note Victoria Lake waaaay in the distance.

…but the view is outstanding. Note Victoria Lake waaaay in the distance.

 

 

dempster highway

The Dempster Highway is a 735 km gravel road that begins near Dawson, Yukon and ends in Inuvik, Northwest Territories. I rode it, up and back, in early June on my Surly Pugsley. It took me six days up and six days back = an average of 120 km per day. The weather was cool for the most part; I was in short sleeves for only 3 days, but this made for good riding. There was no trouble with bugs, the winds were light and the road was in good condition. I experienced periodic showers on a few days and only one day of drizzle/rain. I’d like to believe this was all due to good planning but good luck played a part.

109

 

Within two hours of starting off I got caught in a terrific thunderstorm (with hail) and encountered a grizzly bear.  Things can change quick up here.

Within two hours of starting off I got caught in a terrific thunderstorm (with hail) and encountered a grizzly bear. Things can change quick up here.

As you can see the road is in good condition and very wide.  Distance markers every 2 km are very helpful.

As you can see the road is in good condition and very wide. Distance markers every 2 km are very helpful.

There are a number of territorial campgrounds along the way.  They provide a bear hang, pit toilets, a covered shelter, a water source and firewod.

There are a number of territorial campgrounds along the way. They provide a bear hang, pit toilets, a covered shelter, a water source and firewood.

110 098 120 129 133 143 120 150 171 172

184

A trip like this requires a lot of calories.  I managed to pack 20,000 + calories into my framebag.

A trip like this requires a lot of calories. I managed to pack 20,000+ calories into my framebag.

 

A selfie at the Arctic Circle.

A selfie at the Arctic Circle.

Being this far north around the time of Summer Solstice meant 24 hours of light.  This picture was taken at midnight.

Being this far north around the time of Summer Solstice meant 24 hours of light. This picture was taken at midnight.

The Dempster is notorious for its mud when it is wet.  Thankfully I only had to deal with this for one morning.

The Dempster is notorious for its mud when it is wet. Thankfully I only had to deal with this for one morning.

Making it to Inuvik was a new "furthest north" for me at 68 degrees north.

Making it to Inuvik was a new “furthest north” for me at 68 degrees north.

A contrast in styles -  the Dempster can be ridden with fat tires and little gear or skinny tires and a lot of gear.  John is from Alaska and I met him first on my way up and then caught up with him on my way down.

A contrast in styles – the Dempster can be ridden with fat tires and little gear or skinny tires and a lot of gear. John is from Alaska and I met him first on my way up and then caught up with him on my way down.

My Surly Pugsley in bikepacking mode.  Tent, sleeping bag and pad on the handlebars, food and stove/pot in the frame bag, clothes in the seat bag and bear spray in the top tube bag.

My Surly Pugsley in bikepacking mode. Tent, sleeping bag and pad on the handlebars, food and stove/pot in the frame bag, clothes in the seat bag and bear spray in the top tube bag.

Random thoughts:

 

  • If a person was going to ride the Dempster one way, I would suggest riding it north to south. This would end the trip on a “high note” of the Tombstone Mountains. Going south to north the ride ends on a rather boring 150 km stretch of road from Fort McPherson to Inuvik that is flat and unchanging.
  • If a person wanted to ride in-and-out I would suggest only going as far as Fort McPherson and then turn around, for the reason noted above. Fort McPherson has a decent sized grocery store that would allow a cyclist to resupply.
  • Cars and trucks were very considerate for the most part, slowing down when they passed and stopping to check if everything was OK if I was stopped.

pivot les fat

4th Update (Feb 12, 2016)

I’ve used the Les Fat in a lot of different winter conditions and remain very happy with the bike.  Again, I see the benefits of shorter chainstays (and a small downside).  The benefit:  great traction when standing on the peddles.  The downside: the bike handles so quickly I find it a little squirrelly when the snow is fresh and loose.  One thing I have yet to do is play around with the adjustable dropouts.  The next time we get some fresh snow I’m going to lengthen the wheelbase and see what difference that will make to stabilizing the bike’s handling.

3rd Update (Nov 17,2015)

I’ve now had several months on this bike on a variety of trails and everything I’ve written below still holds true.  I’m now looking forward to winter and seeing what this bike will do on the snow.  I can’t wait.

I have found one shortcoming with using the Les Fat as a trail bike – pedal strike. It would seem to be a function of the large q-factor (the width between the pedals) that is needed so that this bike can run 5 inch tires.  Because of this and my plan to keep this bike as a winter bike only I’m now shopping around for a bike I will use on the trails next year.  My mind right now is set on either a 29+ or 27.5+ hard tail, probably the former because their aren’t too many of the latter.  Stay tuned.

2nd Update (May 27, 2015)

I rode Subnet yesterday.  For those of you who do not know this trail it offers no rest for the wicked – you are either going up or you are going down.  Observations:

* the Pivot Les Fat is an excellent trail bike

* the short chainstays make for a very quick handling bike and easy to loft the front tire

* this bike climbs great – great traction in the rear AND easy to get rider weight forward

* this bike descends well – I was much more confident descending on this than the Pugsley (and a carbon Beargrease I borrowed last year).

* once again I was super happy with the trail chatter this bike absorbed

Update – first ride review (May 22, 2015)

I took the Les Fat out today for it’s maiden voyage in Pippy Park.  The terrain there is rooty, rocky cross-country trails.  I pumped the tires up hard to see what the frame would do with these bumpy conditions.  My impressions:

* there was lots of compliance in the frame.  It did a great job of soaking up the bumps and reducing trail chatter.

* I felt in the bike rather than on the bike.  In fact, it kind of reminded me of a downhill bike but without the super slack head angle.

* it was great to have one finger braking again.  The SRAM Guide hydraulics work just fine.

*  I love having a 1 X 11 drivetrain.  Super quiet.

* this bike accelerates very well.  This is due to the DT Swiss wheel set.

* I have no complaints about the Maxxis Mammoth tires.  They rolled quick with no self-steer.

* the short chainstays make this bike quick and nimble.  The front tire lofts easily.

* the only thing I will change on this bike is the saddle.  It is a very good stock saddle but my Fizik Pave will be going on soon.

I GOT A NEW BIKE!!!!!!

Freeride Mountain Sports on Water Street is now a Pivot dealer and I am the proud owner of their fatbike, the Les Fat.

Freeride Mountain Sports on Water Street is now a Pivot dealer and I am the proud owner of their fatbike, the Les Fat.

One of the great things about the Les Fat is its versatility.

One of the great things about the Les Fat is its versatility.

Lots of room to fit 5 inch tires.

Lots of room to fit 5 inch tires.

Sweet crank by e*thirteen.

Sweet crank by e*thirteen.

SRAM Guide brakes.

SRAM Guide brakes.

Swinger dropouts allow for lengthening/shortening the wheelbase, setting up singlespeed, etc.

Swinger dropouts allow for lengthening/shortening the wheelbase, setting up singlespeed, etc.

I like the thoughtful touches, like a third water bottle mount under the downtube...

I like the thoughtful touches, like a third water bottle mount under the downtube…

...and rear rack mounts. Small things like this increase a bike's versatility.

…and rear rack mounts. Small things like this increase a bike’s versatility.

I went for the wheel upgrade option - a DT Swiss wheelset.

I went for the wheel upgrade option – a DT Swiss wheelset.

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