Monday, August 17, 2015

Ahhh, Autumn

For some people, the first sign of autumn is the tang of smoke in the air from the first fire in the woodburner of the year.

For others it is the sight of caribou antlers strapped to the top of trucks and SUVs making their way from the hunting fields to Anchorage.

For others it is the ever darker mornings.

For me it is quickly coming to be the first XC running meet of the season as my kids become more and more involved with the sport.

I've read a number of articles about XC and the fall traditions it invokes. And I'm starting to get that. The excitement of mass starts. The muffled pounding of a hundred pairs of feet on loamy soil. The damp air with just a bit of a chill to it. The effort that is apparent on the runners' faces.

I love it. And for us, XC season also announces berry season. See, a few years back, when two of my kids were in middle school, one of my kids was a bit too focused on the fact that there were linden berries along the course of an XC race rather than the race itself. As such, we ended up heading out to that venue after the fact to pick berries. Now we have the tradition of once XC season starts of heading out to pick berries. It is just the fall thing to do.

If I knew a bit more about identifying edible mushrooms, this would be the time of year to do that as well. All announced by the XC season.

And the XC season, in the past, has always made me want to pick up running again. I like the idea of running trail and most XC races up here have a community race following where anyone with a desire can run the course. I've started running recently, but haven't yet run a community race. I think I may next weekend when we are in Soldotna for the meet there. Why not, right? I'm fairly certain I wouldn't come in last. And to my mind, that's all that matters.

The more I run the more I think that I might just have to give some of the mountain races my son is doing a go next year. This means that I'll have to run through the winter to keep my fitness up and to continue building my cardio and climbing muscles. I'm half tempted to continue keeping the 'burban parked in the driveway through the winter and picking up a treadmill for the garage to make it easier to get runs in on those days when the dark and the cold make it discouraging to go outside for a run. I've also vaguely alluded to building plyo jump boxes for the kids to use in their training. So I suppose I could do that as well and just turn the garage into our own spartan gym.

I know my son has big plans and goals for XC, track, and mountain running and having a gym might help him on his way to achieving those. The girls...they have some goals as well, but aren't quite as self-motivated as the boy. He's a bit of a freak that way.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Saturday Satisfaction

My head's not working so well this morning. Neither are my legs. Yesterday was a big one. An awesome one. I've written before about how my son is getting into the mountain running thing. Many of these races have the finish line at the top of the mountain. Thus, if one wants to watch the finish, one must make it to the top before the racers.

Some races, though, are up and down, which presents a whole different set of logistical challenges. And some races are just purely nuts. Yesterday he participated in one of the purely nuts races - the Mat Peak Challenge. Depending on who you talk to, this race has between 9 and 10 thousand feet of elevation gain and loss over 14 miles of rugged mountain terrain. The runners summit two mountains, one of them twice, and connect these summits together with a big valley traverse. I've read a lot about the race from prior racers in an effort to get as much intel as I could for my son. And for myself, because I knew I'd be out on the race course somewhere to cheer him on and to make sure that he was doing okay.

Our original plan was to hike up to the base of the clime up Mat Peak so that we could check his status on the way up and again on the way back down, figuring that if needed, we could bale him out from there and the big climb and decent would be where he would bonk if he were going to.

My middle one and I, then, headed out from the Smith Road trailhead at 6:30-ish in order to get to our post on the mountain. We'd never hiked the trail before and wanted to make sure that we had plenty of time to traverse the four miles we were planning on going before the 9 AM race start time.

The first mile of the trail is on an ATV-type road and the whole time we figured we were on the wrong path, having seen a number of well defined side-trails, but no trail markers at all. However, we did see plenty of evidence of foot traffic, so we kept on. Eventually we came to the end of the road and where the trail starts properly - a nice single track lane through the trees and foliage. This trail is not like most Alaska mountain trails in that it does not go straight up. In fact, it seemed to be a bit too easy and too flat. Either the topography of this trail is an Alaska anomaly or I am just getting more fit.

By 7 we were above tree line and nearing the junction between the Mat Peak (Byers Peak) trail and the trail coming down the back side of Lazy. Heck, we hadn't even broken a sweat, but were soaked from the dew collected on the brush along the trail.

As we made our way to about 3000 feet of elevation we came across a small group of ladies camped along the trail - the check point crew for the summit. We chatted a few moments, revealed that my son was racing, got some intel about there being Reese PB cups at the top of the mountain for the racers, and then proceeded on. At about 4000 feet, there is a nice bench of land where I decided we could hunker down for the race. My daughter got herself set up with a book to read and I decided it was only 7:30 or so - I would continue towards the summit and would turn around when the first racers overtook me. 

The pitch to the summit is a bit of a challenge - a bit over 2000 feet of elevation gain in a mile and a half or so, with the final couple hundred being through a boulder field that requires some scrambling. As I made my way up, my daughter ensconced on her little bench below reading, I noticed that the summit check point crew were coming up fast behind me. I continued on, not worried about getting passed by the summit team, just wanting to make it to the top, wanting to see the view from up there.

While on the way up, it dawned on me that if I made the summit before 9:30 that I would be able to get back down to where my daughter was before the mid-pack racers made it that far, the pack where my son would be. It further dawned on me that if we, my daughter and I started back down towards the trail intersection as my son was climbing and descending, we might be able to make it back down the mountain and over to the Lazy Mountain trailhead before he would so that we could watch him finish the race. Brilliant.

I finished the boulder scramble and attained the summit by 9:30, ate a Snickers bar, drank some water, and gave the wife a call to let her know the change of plans and find out if my other daughter had checked in from her location on the top of Lazy. Then I started the scramble back down the mountain.

One of the things that I absolutely love about living in the Valley and having my kids involved in sports such as cross country skiing and running as well as, now, mountain racing, is the fact that it really feels like a community. I know that if I head up a trail work day for VMBaH or head out to watch a race or go for a bike ride I am going to run into someone I know, someone who has many of the same interests as me.

While heading down from the summit I ran into one of my daughters' skiing and running teammates. We chatted for a few moments about the race and how great the weather was for the spectators and he continued up to the summit. A bit further down the mountain I passed Holly Brooks making her way up. We chatted for a half a second - I congratulated her on her second place finish in the Crow Creek Crossing race the Saturday before. Then I ran into one of the coaches for the Colony XC Ski team, a gentleman who has been a great support and mentor for my daughters in their skiing endeavors thus far.

Even the people you don't know on the mountain become your friends for a brief moment. You smile, say hi, give some brief directions. It is a community of people who are all just a little bit crazy. It's a wonderful thing.

The front runners of the race were just starting the ascent as I reached the bottom of the summit pitch and toward the flat bench where my daughter waited. These men define fitness. Lean. Muscular. Barely breaking a sweat as they power up the mountain. A crazy glint in their eyes as their blood rushes through their veins, a pulse that spectators can almost see as they pass.

My son passed us about 15 back from the front runners. He was looking fresh. He was looking strong going into the climb. As he passed I let him know our plans to move down the mountain, then my daughter and I took off running down the mountain, against the flow of traffic.

I'm not sure why we decided to run at this point as we had plenty of time to make it to the junction. I think it was just for the pure joy of movement and sunshine and mountain air. At any rate, we ran. We made it to the junction well before any of the racers.

When the racers started coming through we counted order and noted faces trying to see who had moved up in the order and who had fallen back, trying to guess when my son would be coming through. We saw Lance Kopsack, one of the founders of the race and a legendary beast of the downhill sections of these races, come through with my son nowhere in sight. My son and Lance were neck in neck at the beginning of the climb, and my son had figured that he would pace off of Lance for the first part of the race, knowing that he is faster on the ups than Lance is. Honestly we didn't figure that my boy would be anywhere near Lance after the big descent. And we were right. Lance had made up a huge amount of time and left many competitors in the dust on the that big descent.

When my son came through he was still looking strong and fairly fresh, unlike some of the other runners who were showing the loopiness that comes with low blood sugar and high exertion. We found out he had fallen so far back in the line up - 23 or 24 - because he had a tumble down the peak's boulder field, scraping his arm up pretty good and making him a bit more cautious and slow than he had been when he started the decent.

We gave him the all clear to finish and as he made his way up the back side of Lazy, my daughter and I took off back down the other trail, running our own race to get down and over to the Lazy trailhead before my son could cross the line.

We made good time down the trail to the Morgan Horse trail, the 1.5 mile double track that connects the two trail heads. In the end we made it to the finish in time to watch many of the finishers come in, about twenty minutes before my son came in. And as he came in he was still going strong, pushing for a respectable finish time of 4 hours, eleven minutes, and a handful of seconds. He had made up a few places, passing a couple of strong competitors, coming in at 20th place overall and first for his age group of 14-17 even though he is only 13.

In the end all of us got a good work out - him running the longest and most challenging race of his life so far, my middle daughter and I climbing up the mountain and racing back down, and my oldest going up and back down Lazy. My wife worked out her stress muscles,  being a ball of nerves the entire time he was out on the course. The gluttony of take out pizza and beer for the adults and soda for the kids, though, has led to a bit of fuzziness in my head this morning. I know I could have slept for another three or four hours, but, alas, too much to do today. At some point I need to get a training ride in for the Hatcher Pass Epic next weekend. 90 miles on bike of climbing, gravel, dust, and a killer after-party. Yeah, sounds like fun.

There is certainly something to being out in the nature and being up on mountains. It clarifies everything and reminds me that the daily grind, the daily BS is just that. It is not important other than as a means to an end, a way to enable me to have the time to spend with my family outdoors, exploring the world, getting in touch with the physical aspects of life, experiencing the rejuvenating power of nature.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Lazy Sunday

Sometimes it is good to be not lazy. Other times, lazy is okay. What does one call 'speed' hiking up Lazy mountain then running down Lazy Moose? I don't know. I call it a good way to spend a Sunday morning.

My crazy 13 year old son has gotten bitten by the mountain running bug and he wants to do the Mat Peak challenge. One part of the race is being able to make it to the top of Lazy within 60 minutes. Now we've never climbed all the way to the top of Lazy, so we weren't sure he'd be able to do it. I mean, really, it was just an excuse to get the kids out and hiking. He did the Pioneer Ridge race just the week before in an hour and 26 or 27 minutes. Of course he can make the top of Lazy in an hour.

But I digress. So we hike the mountain. He and I picking a fairly quick pace with the ladies taking it a bit more leisurely. He and I get to the top in just over an hour with a couple of quick stops and my old butt dragging through some portions of the trail. We scope the view and then head back down.

There are two trails up Lazy. The original, shorter, steep trail and the longer, switchback laden Lazy Moose trail. These two trails converge at 2300 feet or so at the first of two picnic tables.

As my son and I started down from the peak we ran into my oldest, half way between picnic table one and two. She found a brilliant patch of early season blueberries and shared the location with us. We ate. They were amazing.

About a quarter of the way back down to the first picnic table we caught up with the wife and other daughter and we all turned around to head down the mountain. My son and my oldest decided to run down the mountain on the steep trail. My knees, being nearly 40, don’t take quite as kindly to the steep downhill runs. Or maybe it is my lack of quad fitness? At any rate, I decided to take the Lazy Moose trail at a run. The wife and other daughter decided to walk Lazy Moose. So there we are, three groups just out there doing our thing. Brilliant.

My son and oldest make it to the parking lot in who knows how long. I take a good 35 minutes to run the 3.8 miles of Lazy Moose. I get back to the parking lot and we all sit in the sun for about an hour, eating small snacks and enjoying the sun on our skin before the other two show up.

I really can't think of a much better way to spend a Sunday morning when the weather is so beautiful. The only way to make the day better? Top it off with a quick bike ride through the MatSu Greenbelt single track trails - Long Lake and the Bear trails.

Yeah. Perfect.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


From time to time it seems that some asshat just needs to remind me that my life ain't worth shit to him.

Picture this: A nice mid-summer's morning. July. Temps in the 50s. Lightly cloudy. A bit damp on the roads due to some overnight precip. The streets are lightly trafficed - it's ten to six in the morning. Down town. I roll north/north west on H and as I come to 4th ave I have the light. I see, to my left a white SUV speeding east/north east on 4th, not showing any sign of slowing for the light until the last moment.

I continue across the intersection with the light. I am in the roadway. Taking the lane. I note that the crosswalk signal is flashing with 9 seconds left, which tells me that the green light at 3rd will hold just long enough for me to make it through. I hear the growl of a big engine behind me as I get close to the light, but don't think too much of it. Yeah, it's being revved, but that doesn't mean anything necessarily.

I start making my way down Christensen, through the light at 3rd with 2 seconds left on the crossing signal when, as I get to just behind Snowgoose, I hear the revving of an engine and see in my periphery a white hood coming up fast and close on my left. The same SUV from 4th and H? Maybe. The fact of the matter is the driver is gunning his engine and, as soon as his mirror passes me he starts moving to his right - into my path of travel. 

Normally I am pretty forgiving if someone passes me closely. I know how hard it can be to judge just how far away something is from the right side of the vehicle. I get that. In this case, though, there are other things that instantly made me doubt this was a case of a driver just not being aware. First, the revving engine. This was gunning, like showing off. This was someone racing. Second, the vehicle was going well over the speed limit which is…I don't know what the speed limit is on that stretch of road. I was doing 20 according to my GPS at the time. Third, the driver, as soon as his mirror passed me, started cutting over into my path. The SUV in question wasn't a nice compact little Jeep Liberty or something. This was a Ford Excursion. A white Ford Excursion. The damned thing is nearly a mile long. There is no way that the driver thought he had cleared me before he started cutting back over. Couple that with how close he was to begin with, the revved engine and the fact that it seems fairly likely this was the same SUV from 4th and H, the one that didn't show any sign of wanting to stop at the light, and it leads me to feel that this was intentional.

I've found that the more close one comes to being killed by a driver, the less rational the response to the situation. Once I got myself out of the path of these crushing wheels on this white Ford Excursion I reacted with a less than helpful or appropriate raising of the middle finger and shouted "Fuck you asshole!"

Not cool. I get it. Not the way to deal with the situation. The driver shouted back "Get off the road" as well as a bunch of other things I missed as he first slowed and then sped away. When He slowed I pulled over to the side of the road, pulled out my phone and debated calling the police. After a half a moment, I decided that it wasn't worth the effort. I've called the police about assaults in progress I've witnessed and not had them show up for half an hour or more. They might take my statement, but what of it?

So I noted the dude's license plate number. Not sure why. I can't really find out who he is by that number. Maybe I thought I would file a report after the fact just to have it on record. Maybe I thought that I'd run into the asshat again and, before bashing his mirror off with my U-lock would check to make sure it was the same asshat.

Don't know. I've got his number, though.

What is so shocking to me about this encounter is how rare it is for me on my commute. My route is generally removed from the roads and most times I ride at non-peak traffic times. I can imagine how those who are forced to ride more roadway than I and who ride during the more peak hours would quickly tire of the daily fight to arrive alive. Hell, if I had to deal with situations like today even twice a week I'd probably quickly give up the bike commuting thing as a lost cause.

And my reaction to the situation? That could've gotten me killed as well. When the driver slowed and rolled down his passenger window is when it flashed through my mind that if I go up there to engage, I could very well get shot in the face. This is Alaska. There are a lot of people packing here. And they tend to like to use those guns. Something I need to keep in mind before flying the bird or calling some random stranger who just tried to kill me an asshole. If he tried to kill me with his vehicle why wouldn't he pull a gun?

I can hear the conversation he's having with his coworkers right now about the pussy biker who flipped him off then didn't have the balls to come up to the window when he slowed down. "Little bitch didn't even have the balls to back it up. I tell ya, those fuckin' bikers just piss me off. Thinking they own the roads and shit."

It's hard to not get worked up by situations like this. It's hard to keep cool and smile and wave. Maybe the kill them with kindness route isn't the route to go. Maybe the militant cyclists have it right. Maybe I should engage. Maybe I should bash mirrors and purposefully obstruct traffic? Maybe I should have called the police or followed the asshat to his place of work. Or maybe I will do a bit of sleuthing this afternoon and if I find his vehicle… well who knows?

No, I won't do anything like that. Instead, I'll be more vigilant about riding within the boundaries of the law and when I see asshat again, I'll smile and wave and be prepared to have him try to run me off the road again and be faster on the draw with the phone to call the authorities. After all, if the incidents don't get reported, there's no issue in the eyes of the law, right?

Maybe some cap-head nails in my pocket as well. You know, just because.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Omniterra, Multimodal, a Bit of This, a Bit of That

Vacation time. That's what I'm living on right now. Vacation time. Stay-cation in the parlance of the ad-makers and trend setters. Staying home. Relaxing. Running. Biking. Not getting too worked up about anything much.

It's been a good run so far. A week and a half in to a two week respite. I've gotten in some good runs and some good rides. I've been able to continue coaching the next generation of dirtbag cyclists on the fine art of blasting through the berms and hucking the jumps when the jumps come there way.

On Saturday, the 4th, I woke up around noon after a long day of straining water with my dipnet in Kenai on Friday, catching next to nothing, and decided I wanted to go for a long ride. I needed to clear my head of some thoughts that were threatening to drown me and I knew that a straight trail ride wouldn't cut it. I needed something a bit more painful to focus my thoughts not on the existential crises brewing in my head, but instead on the physical pain of long, hard miles.

In pursuit of this goal, I loaded up the hydration pack with water and a couple of pre-packaged Rice Krispy treats and started out the door, climbing from my house and towards Hatcher Pass. The goal and route was only loosely defined: Go up. Decide what to do when up far enough.

This is a general route I've taken a few times in the past. Once all the way to the mine. A few times just to Archangel road. A few times over to Government Peak Rec Area.

I like the road bits of this ride. They are comfortable even though the road is narrow and heavily traveled. There are generally enough cyclists that ride the road that the road users are aware of us being there. The traffic due to the holiday was a bit heavier than usual, but still not bothersome.

At first I thought I might try going up and over the pass and then taking some of the ATV trails back to town. That plan hatched while I was still sub 1000 feet of elevation. By 2000 I was thinking I'd just head up to the mine, maybe hike up to  Gold Cord lake, and then head back down. By 3000 feet I figured I'd take a right at Gold Mint and ride that trail out and back a ways before heading back down the mountain.

In the end I went up a bit further - Archangel Road to the Reed Lakes trail where I rode the mile and a half open to bikes before turning around and heading back towards home.

While riding, though, I got to thinking about omniterra and one bike to rule them all. I feel like I beat this dead horse time and time again, but I am constantly amazed by where and how I end up riding my bike and how if I were to have a different bike for every type of riding I do, I'd not have the adventures I do because the machine would limit my imagination and ride.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I must have a bike that can adapt to whatever I decide to throw at it on a given ride. Road, gravel, single track, light downhill - you name it. I am not a planner. I head out and see where the wind takes me. Fatties have allowed me to do this more than any other bike has. And the Pugsley, I hate to say it, has been the shining light in this omniterra pursuit. Well, I've only ridden two fatties - the Pugs and a Trek Farley, but between the two, the Pugs has proven to be the more capable ride for my style of riding. The Trek was fun once I got used to it. Fun on trails. Riding mad miles on pavement was brutal on that bike. The gearing was certainly trail-centric. I like 2x10 drive trains, but when riding roads it is awesome to have a big old 44 up front.

Some days I do wonder if the idea of omniterra, of one bike to rule them all is catching on, if I am the patient zero for the movement, or what. No, I know I'm not the first to approach riding like this. Not by a long shot. I haven't been riding long enough to be the leader of any type of movement. But it seems that I see more and more often articles and blog posts about going simple. About getting rid of the garage full of bikes in favor of one bike.

In fact, in this month's issue of Bicycling magazine the cover story is all about a guy who has gone from racer to dirtbag and how happy he is. Surly today posted a similar type of story about another dude who's just living the dream with one bike and not much more.

What strikes me about this situation right now is this: Bicycling has this article about simplifying while at the same time reviewing a string of bikes for their editors' choice awards and not a single one of the bikes is under 2500 dollars and the one that came closest to that 2.5k mark was constantly referred to in terms of being "amazing for this price point."

Of course Surly is trying to sell bikes and products, too. So is the idea of going dirtbag, of being simple and having a single bike to rule them all just a new trend, something that the hip riders will profess on the surface while continuing to curate their personal museum of bikes specific to riding situations?

Hell, does any of that matter?

Of course it doesn't.

What matters is that we all get out there and ride. Whether we have a 10,000 dollar uber-bike or a 300 dollar Wally World special, what matters is that we are out in the world riding. It makes the world a better place, a happier place.

And for the readers who are lucky enough to be in the MatSu Valley - here is a helpful hint: There are some new single track trails in the MatSu greenbelt system that are freaking amazing fun to ride! Fast, curvy, challenging and just flat out fast. Come check 'em out!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Hey Surly, You Reading This?

Dear Surly,

In 2013 I bought a bike your company made. A Pugsley. White. Big. Fat. Like me. I bought it for a number of reasons, not the least of which was that it was fat and relatively cheap as far as fat bikes went at the time. I liked the 3X drive train and the double-wall Large Marge rims. Again, I'm a big, fat guy and I like to break things. Double wall = good.

I rode the hell out of that bike. It quickly became my only bike. I think maybe Surly sent an operative to my house to sabotage my other ride, a well loved Giant NRS that was my one and only until Pugsley came around.  See, I rode the Pugs for a week of daily commuting, then decided to give it a break and go back to the Giant. That very ride, on the way home from work, the frame broke clean in two on the seat tube, right by the suspension mount. Coincidence? Maybe, but either the Giant was heart broken by my splitting of affections or the Pugs wanted to be the one and only in my life.

From that day forward the Pugs was my only ride. And I rode daily. Well, almost daily. Generally six days a week. Sometimes all seven. I rode to work and home. I rode paved bike path. I rode single track. I rode XC ski trails and dog mushing and snowmachine trails. I rode in the rain. I rode in the sun. I rode during an ice storm once.

I once got myself into a spot of trouble - early October in Anchorage riding some dog mushing trails over a swamp that had not frozen over yet. One moment I'm hike a bike over the hummocks and the next I am crashing through the ice up to my groin in nearly frozen water and oozy black mud that smelled quite a bit like an Alaska outhouse that's baked in the midnight sun a touch too long. Air temps in the low thirties. Only five miles from home, but getting wetter with each step as I broke through the rime of ice over and over, each time going a bit deeper and deeper.

I rode miles and miles on that bike. I broke shit. A lot of shit. Derailleurs - front and rear. Cranksets. Hubs - I think I went through two hubs and countless axel rebuilds on the stock Shimano hub on the bike before I had the shop rebuild with a cassette bearing hub. Quick releases. Seat posts. Chains. Lots of chains. Saddles. I broke lots of parts. I eventually broke the frame itself. Though that was my own fault, really. Who knew that aluminum would fuse to steel after only a year if there wasn't a bit o' grease between the two? Not I. That's who. Or, rather, maybe I just got lazy. Doesn't matter. Trying to dig a seat post out of the seat tube when two become one … not fun and if one is not careful one tends to put large holes in the seat tube.

So what do I do? I buy a new frame. Same snow-blind white. A touch smaller, but a good, solid structure on which to rebuild my lovely Pugs. And in true Pugs fashion the virgin-busting ride resulted in my big, white ass flying through the air with the greatest of ease right over the handlebars and into a clump of blueberry bushes. Nothing on the bike was broken. Nothing on me was broken. Just the bike and me getting to know each other a bit better.

Then something happened. Something got in the way. Farley. Yes, fat and fun and aluminum. For some reason shiny was suddenly appealing to me and the Pugs was just a bit too pedestrian, too blasé, too mainstream. Or so I thought. Corporate brainwashing, maybe. But for some reason I had to have a new fat bike and the Farley was it. Maybe it was the name? Now that I think about it, the corporate bike slingers from Wisconsin really seemed to co-opt Surly's naming approach with that one.

So I got the Farley, but the Pugs stuck around the garage as the fat bike for the kids to ride along with. It didn't get much use overall. A few adventure rides, but not the way I thought it would. Until the Farley had to go into the shop for an extended period. Broke shit again - rear wheel set when to crap and the shop had to maneuver the corporate bs required to get the warranty validated. So Pugs and I were reunited.

It wasn't like rekindling a romance. Instead it was like being stuck in a room with an ex who you did not amicably separate from - we fought. I couldn't get comfortable and Pugs couldn't keep a tire inflated to save its life. After a week went by I was so happy to have the Farley back that I didn't realize that for the entire time I was on Pugs again my back never once hurt.

I almost sold Pugs. Had all but cash in hand when I decided that no, I couldn't sell it. I'd had too much fun on those times when my son and I would go exploring the world in the winter on the fatties and if I only had one portly beast in the garage we wouldn't be able to do that anymore. Yet I didn't take down the Craig's List posting I had made to sell the Farley. I had posted both bikes at the same time just to see what would happen. Maybe sell one and get a 9'er+.

In the mean time the Pugs got some use and I was riding the Farley daily. My back was killing me and rides longer than two hours generally resulted in barely being able to walk the next day.

Then one day, out of the blue, nearly two months after posting the ad, I get an email asking if the Farley's still for sale. "Sure" I say and we work out a deal. I got cash and figure I'll buy a new skinny bike for summer riding and ride the Pugs in the winter. Then I decide to just upgrade a few things on the Pugs to make it fit a bit better - super wide bars, a longer stem, a cushy saddle for my fat ass. Maybe a 9'er wheel set.

At first going back to the Pugs was hard. I still felt a bit like a bear riding a really tiny bike. The Farley felt so sporty all leaned over and such. The Pugs felt slow and awkward. But the data wasn't agreeing with that assessment. My daily commutes were as fast and even a touch faster than on the Farley. More importantly, I didn't feel like someone had been beating on my lower back at the end of a ride.

But I still wasn't completely sold on going back to the Pugs. While the bulk of my riding is commuting, the riding I love more than anything is riding the trails. The Farley was ace on the single track. It felt fast and capable and once I got comfortable on it, could climb and jump like a boss. For the first two weeks of being back on the Pugs I didn't ride any trail. I was worried that going back to trail on the Pugs would be a let down after the Farley.

Then I went for a nice long trail ride with my son.

Three hours on the bike. Riding pump track, flow trails, rooty-techy single track, and an old rail trail with a number of big assed rockslide sections. Three hours of riding and the entire time all I could think about was how much fun I was having riding with my boy. I wasn't thinking about how the bike felt under me. I wasn't thinking about limitations of the bike or things that I thought I should change to make the bike function better. I wasn't thinking about my back hurting because it wasn't. I was just riding.

It was brilliant.


And that's when it hit me. The entire time I had the Farley I was always focused on the things I wanted to improve on the bike and the things I didn't like about the bike rather than being present in the ride itself. For the first time since I sold the Farley I realized that it was absolutely the right choice given my riding style and what I look for in a bike - one bike to rule them all.

I know that the Pugs isn't as fast as some other bikes and a lot of people try to tell me that a fat bike is not the right bike for commuting or riding during the summer. I tell them phooey. When you find the right bike for you it is the right bike for you, regardless of what marketing BS is behind it. For me, a slightly upright riding steel fat bike with heavy, sturdy, durable wheels is the right bike for me spring, summer, fall, or winter.

Oh, and stripping Large Marge? She looks sexy naked. 


Monday, June 22, 2015

Go Get It! Now!