Global Fat Bike Day was the first in the Le Grand Fat Tour series of events. The designated day for Global Fat Bike Day around the world was on December 6, but that didn’t work out for things in the Burlington area. On Friday, those in charge of such things decided that the forecasted rain wouldn’t go well with the event, so it was moved to Sunday. Personally, I was looking forward to the war stories I could tell about going to a fat bike event held in a cold, early December rain. There is a certain perverse joy I take in riding in such conditions. Maybe I’m just weird, but it was a bit of disappointment. On the other hand, I was glad to not be on the road Saturday morning. I like driving in those conditions, but my concern is more about other drivers on the road. You know, the folks who are responsible for the existence of anti-lock brakes, all season radials and ambiguous check engine lights.
It did rain for the early part of the day on Saturday, so the date swap turned out to be a good thing. The rain switched over to snow later in the day. Somehow, the Catamount Family Center got enough snow to make things happen. There were a couple of inches on the ground and no ice to be found on the trails. Just a few miles down the road, the snow was little more than enough to make lawns look white. I think they made the right call in shifting things ahead to Sunday.
Sunday was clear and surprisingly cold. Of course, I arrived late, just like I do with nearly everything else. Since there wasn’t really an official start time, there was no problem. I was hoping to get out with the first group ride of the day, which was pedaling out as I pulled into the parking lot. After getting my stuff together and registering, I took off on my own, with my nose already running. I’m somewhat familiar with these trails from racing here back in the ’90s and I’ve always liked the riding on the north side of the road. It didn’t take very long before I connected with the group ride. We rode some double track and even some moderately twisty single-track. We even made first tracks on some trails that climbed the power line area. The snow was just enough to make things interesting, but could easily be ridden. Near the end of the ride, several of us broke off and continued a ride on our own.
That was great until I broke my chain while climbing a short, steep ledge trail. Since I didn’t have a chain tool, I hoofed it back to the center. By that time, it was close enough to noon that I decided it was time to hunt down some food. First, I had to mooch a chain tool and shorten my chain so I could ride for the remainder of the day. I lost the use of my big ring, but it was better than nothing.
By this time I was cold. The clamminess from riding paired with the wind and temperatures in the teens was starting to get to me. I grabbed a hot bowl of chili and stood by the fire for a while. This helped a little, but I was still really cold. Even sitting in my car for fifteen minutes eating some snacks didn’t really make any change. I could not get warm. The only solution was to get back out on the bike and start heating from the inside out. That actually worked!
There was an alley cat race sometime around mid-day, but I declined that so I could stand by the fire a little longer. I did manage to get some time on a few demo bikes later in the day. I love the idea of being able to test ride different bikes, but it’s not great for my personal contentment. I really was happy with my bike until I tried the Specialized Fatboy. Of course, it’s not really suffering to ride my Mukluk either. I’ll note that experience down for future reference should I decide that I need to upgrade.
The weather stayed beautiful for the entire day. It was nice to ride the trails around Catamount without the intense suffering of a race. While they don’t have massive mileage, the trials are actually quite well designed. From what I understand, they are available for fat biking all winter long.
The event was pretty low key, but reasonably well attended considering the random weather and schedule changes. Being the first event of the season and their first time around, I’m expecting that it will get even better in the future. Now to look forward to Überwintern next month!