This past weekend, Al McWilliams braved blizzard conditions to spend some quality time with Cody in Traverse City. This is the story of his fat bike experience.
3T does not make a fat bike (yet). But with approximately 300 feet of snow and temperatures in the single digits since Christmas, our Northern contingent of Cody Sovis and Sean Kickbush has spent plenty of time on obese tires in an effort to stave off any fat on themselves. Fat biking is regional; go outside the Midwest and most cyclists don’t own one, don’t want one, and don’t need one. Say that in Traverse City, however, and you’re risking a sucker punch to the face.
And so, with his 3T Exploro sitting in the garage like a forlorn puppy left at home, Al took to the trails on a fat bike for the local Sunday trail ride, Dirt Church. A mix of bikes, beer, and profanity, the Dirt Church crew welcomes all with open arms and then drops the weak and the sick a few hundred yards down the trail. All summer, the ride hits singletrack; in winter, it includes the Winter Sports Singletrack with its groomed trails, plus a dash of the Hyrdrocut, which is a meandering, unmapped and unmarked fat bike trail that changes every year and nearly every time you go out to ride it.
Al and Cody put in some opening warm-up miles, delayed slightly by Al’s meticulous seat height adjustments and Cody’s insatiable hunger for free mini candy canes at Timber Ridge. (They have a whole BOWL FULL!)
At a balmy 14 degrees, we stayed both hot and cool with our fashionable Castelli kit. Like with most good dips, layering is key. Even in the single digits, we’ve been able to get away with a base layer, our San Remo skinsuits, and a thermal jacket to stay cozy. With some winter fat bike and ski races coming up, we’ll be breaking out the CX skinsuits. FUN FACT: ‘XC’ skiing is cool. You can tell because Danny, Scotty, Cody, and Cat are way into it!
We had a solid group of about a dozen riders, all of whom were experienced and hearty fat bikers. Al had no trouble keeping up, even when things got a bit dicey on some soft trails that saw the group blow up. In road racing, the field splits on steep climbs, tough turns, or crosswinds. On a fat bike, guys get dropped at 2 miles per hour because they or the rider in front of them tipped over.
With warm weather in the forecast, the team is hoping to get some clear roads and gravel to break out the 3Ts this week, but we’re lucky to have fat bikes and even (gasp!) skiing to stay fit. Squeezing into those skinsuits makes staying very active very important. None of us wants to look like too much sausage stuffed into too little casing.