Another Night Bison in the books. If you don’t regularly follow Axletree, take a look at their blog for some thoughts over there. (What an amazing author they have…)
Last year, Night Bison was a hammerfest for me. This year, I was all ready to make it another hammerfest with the new Moots. I was ready, man…really ready. And then it all fell apart. BPaul had the “brilliant” idea of riding fatbikes. He was all like, “we should ride fatbikes together, and just have a fun time.” I know, right–who rides bikes for fun? What a stupid idea.
But then everyone else got in on the bandwagon. Tobie decided to ride a new Jones semi-fat that he had built up. Nevdal broke out his Beargrease. ChadG rolled out his Mukluk. The tipping point for me was when Mr. Gorecik advised that he was riding his Krampus, and gave me this whole guilt-trip about bros riding together. Well played, sir. Not currently being in possession of a fatbike (Come on Salsa…where’s that Beargrease?), I busted out the second best option: Superfish. (Tech note: the Superfish is now running a 110mm fork. More on that in a few days).
I’m not going to repeat all of the pics from the Axletree post–I’ll assume that you’ll see them over there. But we had over 100 riders show up, with about half shown here:
Here’s the better side of Tobie, the rear end of a Jones, and part of the group rolling out of town.
So we said we were going to ride slow, right? We were going to detour, cut the route short, and stop for some S’mores, right? Yeah. No. There’s a Justin Timberlake song that has the lyrics in it, “cause you the worst best girlfriend I ever had.” That’s kinda how I felt about my friends at some points in the ride…the worst best friends I ever had. They’re terrible. I should’ve known better. I started the ride with 48 ounces of water in a camelbak full of snack food, anticipating a short ride on a full-suspension mountain bike. That didn’t happen.
We started out by pacelining at speeds varying from 20-28mph. We stopped, turned back, picked up a GPS someone had dropped, and cranked on. From the back-ish of the pack, we rolled up to near the front-ish. We repeatedly stopped and then cranked it back up. At the point where we were supposed to cut off, we were all having fun, so we decided to press on. Long story short: Our planned 20-25 mile slow, fun ride turned into 50 miles at ludicrous speed on fatbikes.
Here’s BPaul, and yes, he does have a campstove in his backpack. Literally.
ChadG putting it down.
Tobie, Aaron and Gecik.
You haven’t lived until you’ve pacelined, on gravel, at 26mph in a row of fatbikes. According to my Garmin, our top speed was just over 30mph, on a flat section. We held 25+ for a couple miles, and 20+ for a significant majority of the time that we were rolling.
The ‘official’ route was about 55 miles, so we did cut about 5 miles off with a little detour. To effect that detour without leading the pack astray, we cut all of our lights, and rode gravel for a few miles completely blacked out. It was one of the best moments of the night.
We did stop briefly and anticipated setting up a S’Mores station, only to find that we had no matches for the stove. Accordingly, we set up a marshmallow handup station, and various debauchery ensued. This is the only photo I can show from that stop without giving a parental discretion advisory.
Shortly thereafter, we hit the unexpected aide station described in the Axletree post. Twas awesome.
And shortly thereafter, it was Harter B-Roads.
When on gravel, I had the suspension locked-out on the Superfish. But on the b-road, I enjoyed full-suspension cush, and the traction of my trusty Schwalbes. That was pretty enjoyable (compared to those sliding all over on cross bikes).
After the B-road, it was Harter gravel, and we were grinding hard. We rolled up to Lynch, and I realized that with the change in plans, I had completely forgotten to eat anything. I was out of water, and had downed no food…so while my ride reports usually talk about food and hydration, there was none here. Whoops! On that front, though, I am pleased to report that I rode well, even without a good food plan. Lynch went by amazingly quickly, and then we hit Gurler Road. For the last mile of Gurler, I went up front, got down as aero as I could, and spun it up to 24mph with a mild cornering headwind. That was everything I had–literally everything. It was more fun than it should have been.
We rolled back into town all smiles. We were even happier to learn that our own Lenny Clapp had laid the smack down, dropped the lead group, and ‘won’. He was handsomely rewarded with a custom Bison trophy.
The Superfish needs a seatpost that is about 1″ longer for gravel riding. I’m all topped out on it, and by the end of the ride, my hip-flexors were screaming from having my knees come up so high. It’s perfect for off-road, but too short for on-road. Otherwise, it was flawless.
As it turns out, even when I anticipate and prepare for an easy ride, I can do a hard ride. When I don’t think about nutrition or hydration, I forget to eat and hydrate properly. And when I listen to my friends, I have an awesome time. The ride included some of the best moments of this whole year–sharing amazingness with amazing people. It doesn’t get any better. And even though we did “only 50 miles”, we hammered in a fashion that lived up to RATG standards. It’s not about the bike.
It’s about the people…and we have the best people. Thank you to my friends, for an amazing, memorable night.