LET’S put this on the table right away…I am a fatike neophyte so definitely take what I’m about to tell you in that context. Please. Still, I do know a bit about the local conditions so a little of what I learned during last week’s adventure was somewhat of a surprise.
T’WAS a crisp and clear morning last Monday as I provided the plan to Mrs. California Alps (always have a plan, including return time and such) and then headed out to Monitor Junction on Farley the Faithful. It was about 30 degrees fahrenheit at departure.
First Lessons, Grasshopper
Fatbikes are kinda slow. Sorry Farley. But they (you) are. Having done that ride out to Monitor Junction hundreds of times prior on a much faster roadbike, it was a bit agonizing. We didn’t want a shuttle out there, though; after all, it was a weekday and we wanted to take advantage of the fact there was no traffic – not hardly a car, and not one snowmobile, to be seen.
I was surprised by how hard it was to peddle over the washboardy snow. And it was a bit like riding in sand in some parts, too. Traction was an issue; fishtailing and pedaling at high-revs for almost the entire time, though, I was able to stay upright. For the most part. 😉
CHECK out this one-minute video for a visual glimpse, and auditory gander…
What I Wore
I decided to go with the same gear I would use in frigid weather on the road bike. Here’s my list:
- Castelli NanoFlex cold weather tights – not sure of the exact model
- DeFeet Woolie Boolie socks (plus an additional hiking sock)
- Castelli Rosso Corso cold weather long sleeve jersey – again, not sure of the model but it had those wetsuit/waffle-like panels in front (see image below)
- Pearl Izumi Gloves – thick suckers they were, and plenty warm
- Neck thingy – Yeah, Castelli
- Craft skull cap with Gore windstopper panels
- Giro helmet with visor
- Camelback Mule (no, the water in the exposed hose did not freeze)
Specific boots, however, I did not have. My Lowa hiking boots – waterproofed of course (the same boots I wear snowshoeing) – however, did the trick. You definitely need boots for those times you have to get off the bike, which for me, notwithstanding a couple nature-breaks, was due to some deep patches of snow and one or two gawking-stops.
THE night before the ride I picked up some good tips, at it turns out, from fat-bike.com. I think I’ll put some of those Lake MXZ400 boots on my wish list. If I can find a pair of 50’s, that is.
Editors note: I ride Lake shoes on the road bike and just love their fit, comfort and Speedplay compatibility.
- Riding in the snow is not as easy at it looks
- Snowshoeing gear, cold weather cycling gear, etc., works well (hey, east coast, midwest friends, I know you’ve got advice. Lay it on us!)
- The ROI is well worth it. On a bike, in the snow, on a day like that…Priceless!
IF you’re a Fulgaz subscriber, by the way, be on the lookout!
I filmed the entire ride, from Monitor Junction to the bridge and back, and then back to Markleeville. About 10 miles (not all in the snow, but lots of “snow views”).
WE leave you with these parting shots and the promise that we’ll continue to hone our skills with the hopes that we can provide more fatbiking adventure stories in the white stuff in the near future.
BE safe, stay healthy and have a great week!