Wednesday, November 25, 2015

4 Frustrating Fatbiking Fusses

To say fatbiking has revolutionized winter riding around Edmonton would be an understatement. We used to ride the same route every weekend on our Sunday group ride, but now we can choose from almost all of the singletrack the river valley has to offer. Fatbikes are also much more forgiving in tightrope situations found when riding on narrow walker packed snow. And flying over the snow with root infested trail buried inches underneath adds a whole new dynamic to your favourite trails. But it's not all fine and dandy in fatbike land. Here are some frustrating things about fatbiking.

The Haters: Winter is for skiing and indoor trainer rides watching past editions of the Tour de France. If people had skills and weren't such (insert questionable sexuality/masculinity remark here), they would ride real mountain or cyclocross bikes.

The remedy: It's hard to  focus on the haters when you rail that corner with a touch of two wheel drift all while they are suffering in their basements or trying to figure out which wax to use.

The Cost: Put 45NRTH on a $60 pair of gloves and you now have a $150 pair of gloves. And the escalating arms race of carbon, extra cogs, dropper posts, tires and suspension has worked its way into fatbiking.

The remedy: Aside from a good set of tires, one can enjoy the relative simplicity of rigid bikes, cable pull disc brakes, entry level drivetrains and still be quite competitive! And going with xc ski apparel is a guaranteed way to save money over bike company clothing.

The Ruts: In agreement with the haters, fatbikes are somewhat of a crutch in that they give increased capabilities to newbies. Keep that in mind when out of nowhere, a rut reaches out and pulls you off the packed down trail into the deep snow, courteous of the tire tracks of a newb just a short time ago. Fatbikes are the monster trucks of the bike world and in addition to committed racer types, they do attract a certain crowd who are all too amused at what happens when they grab a fistful of rear brake. How about that locked in feeling of a V-shaped groove on a steeper downhill?

The remedy: Ride at the front of the group, don't follow another group's tracks.

The Limitations: So you've bought the meanest, baddest, fattest, studded-est set of tires ever and you are sitting at work watching the snow come down, antsy to get home and hop on your fatbike. Not so fast. The snow is too deep and you can't get traction on even the slightest climb, struggling to even get started, you see-saw across the trail and the pace slows to a crawl.

The remedy: Well, you've done all that you could have done. Time to bust out the skis...or the 1998 Tour de France DVD.
Two snowmobile tracks and "only" 25cm snowfall and even this slight climb isn't rideable!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The 4 Slight Advantages of the 9-5 Athlete

Sure, we can be envious of "unemployed" athletes who have nothing better to do than train or put their feet up. They can train whenever and wherever they want and subtly brag about it through instagram or strava posts while the rest of us work and are lucky to get in an evening bike ride or run. But there are some slight advantages to being part of the workforce.

Paramedical benefits:

Whether it comes out of your paycheque or not, many employer sponsored health insurance programs include some paramedical coverage. So you can get a couple of free massages, physiotherapy, and if there's a stutter keeping you from really intimidating your competition, some speech therapy. Meanwhile the unemployed athlete is still using their worn out foam roller.


It's why you work and you can buy performance through coaching, better nutrition, and gear. Meanwhile the unemployed athlete is surviving off KD, and praying that their tattered gear will hold up during the next race.

You're a roll model:

In the workforce, you are surrounded by people of varying athletic backgrounds. Most will see you as a hero and hang off every word of your Monday morning weekend summary. While you aren't inspiring sick kids at the hospital, it is comforting to know that you have people cheering for you to battle to the end of the race.

You've faced adversity:

All of those rainy, dark after-work miles you've put in will make that last climb seem like a piece of cake. The only adversity the unemployed athlete has faced is getting shut down by the girl at the coffee shop.