No, not Frostbike, the industry bike show. Frost. Bike.
Yesterday, I intended to head out for a 40-45mile fatbike ride, as part of my prep for the upcoming Barry Roubaix fatbike race at the end of March. When I headed out, temps were below freezing, there was some frost in the ground, the sun was just coming up, and things looked perfect. The ride started on the Schweet Mukluk, from North Central Cyclery.
I headed through a few local forest preserves, cut through some corn fields, dove through a development site, and followed a local creek bed down to some power line trails I’ve been meaning to explore. There, I took a break and ate one of my wife’s amazing gluten and dairy free apple muffins. Tasty!
That pic shows how I’ve been kitting the Mukluk out lately. In the frame, I run 1-2 water bottles, as need be. On the seatpost, I run my excellent Porcelain Rocket booster pack from my man, Scott Felter. In the booster pack, I have an extra jacket, tire pump, tools and CO2, and a spare tube; given the large size of a Mukluk tube, the booster pack is great for holding that full kit. At night, I can throw extra batteries, food, or whatever else in it. It’s held up great, and I love how well the pack functions. Another pic of it here:
It fits in on the bike perfectly, and is completely unobtrusive for all aspects of riding.
Note how clean the bike is there. More on that later.
I’m experimenting with tire pressure, a lot. For snow and mud, I run 4psi in the front and 5.5ish in the back. For road rides, I might run 15-20psi. For this ride, on mixed surfaces, I started out with 12.5psi front and rear. That seems to be a good compromise between road rolling resistance reduction and reasonable cush off-road. I think I’m going to work on dropping front tire pressure some more…but while 4-6psi is ideal for off-road pursuits, quite frankly, the Big Fat Larrys on 82mm rims get a little squirrely on-road when pushing into a corner at 18mph.
In the interests of Barry Roubaix training, I tried to Nevdal ™ as much as possible. (Nevdalling is the practice of avoiding pavement as much as possible…so when riding along a paved road, you ride on the shoulder. It increases resistance and the effectiveness of training. The practice is named after the master practitioner, Nevdal the Hammer.)
As the ride progressed, the power line trail took me far and wide, on a glorious, sunny morning. And as the sun got higher and higher, the temps started to warm. Pretty soon, I found myself a couple miles from roads of any kind, with the frost coming out of the ground and the ground turning to mud. Things then got interesting.
I dropped pressure down to single digits using my precisely calibrated ‘hand-squeeze’ pressure gauge…and schmusched my way back to the road. After a couple miles of mud grinding, I was pretty hammered, so I pointed the Muk home. Ended up getting 33 miles, nearly all of it on non-paved surfaces, and much of it on rough ground. I think B-R training is going well. When I did get back to the pave, the bike looked like this:
That prompted an extensive bike cleaning session with extensive disassembly. I’ll post white glove details on that, soon. For now, I’ll say that the Mukluk is performing perfectly, and I wouldn’t change a thing on it. With the Anything Cages off the bike for now, it performs much better in the mud (the AC trap mud on the fork and prevent the front wheel from turning. No AC = better mud clearance). I would still be interested in more tire choices, though.
It was a good ride. In the Frost. On a Bike.