Thursday, January 7, 2016

A ride, recently. Volume 72.

Sometimes we get out for microadventures that are interesting and unique, but somehow difficult to wrap a lot of verbiage around.

Often but not always we take photos on or of those rides, and the photos are worthy of sharing.  But still no words come.

In some cases, time (or a lack thereof) is the main ingredient in that dearth of words.  Just can't slow down enough to write.

For these occasions I have previously and shall, going forward, invoke the right to share pics without explanation.  

The phrase 'A ride, recently' often comes to mind when groping for a title, thus that'll be the name of this ongoing series.

And since I've wanted to use that title for years, and have only (that I can remember) actually invoked it once before, I'm going to presume that this, right now, is roughly the 72nd time I would have used it, had I taken the time to introduce the idea sooner.

Without further ado:  10,000' up in the Colorado alpine, on a warm January afternoon.

One technical detail of note: Greg and I swapped bikes a few times on this ride, largely to compare differences between his classic Pugsley with 4" tires and Brrrrly with 5.2"ers.  The trails were largely packed enough that either bike could suffice, with enough attention and skill, for the day.

Right at the end of the ride I dug out my valve core tool and removed both valves, thus dumping all the air out of my tires.  0.0psi.  Then I put the valves back in.  Because these tires have so much volume and the casing is spread so wide by 105mm rims, once you add rider weight atop the saddle the tire pressure goes, just barely, back into the positive.

The 2XL tires' contact patches looked like this when Greg was sitting on the bike:

What, praytell, am I prattling on about?

With the tires set as such, we deliberately left the packed surface of the snowshoe/ski trail we'd been riding, and ventured out across a frozen, snow-covered lake.  With any other fat tire I've ridden over the past two decades that would have meant an instant stop as the front wheel buried itself past the hub.  End of story, except for the footnote where you dragged yourself back onto the trail platform, tail between legs, to resume riding.

Not this time.  I was able to ride, at a tick shy of 10,000' in the Colorado alpine, atop *feet* of virgin snow that had never been packed other than by settling due to gravity. 

Because it was completely dark at this point, I have neither pictures nor video to share.  When I rode back up onto the trail I handed the bike, giggling and gasping, to Greg.  Because it was dark he had seen me riding on the lake but didn't quite grasp it yet.  Then he rode down onto the lake, off the trail, and...

...continued riding, while giggling and exclaiming expletives of delight and incredulity.  

Later, Greg said he was afraid to stop pedaling or turn too sharply, because he wasn't sure how he'd get off the lake if he came off the bike.  Easy, I said: "You'd have been postholing up to your crotch".

Riding snow this deep at pressures this low was neither efficient nor particularly fun, if you know what I mean.  But it was possible, for the first time ever.  That fact ballooned in my head on the drive home.  

It was like a door had been opened, allowing us to consider wilder, more remote routes as still larger tires and rims become available.


  1. Way cool to be riding that elevation in January. Flat tire riding, MMMMM, very interesting. Fresh can of worms. The aesthetic portion of my wee mind doesn't much care for the white tires. Just sayin. Thanks for posting the pics. They're outstanding.

  2. Mike are you running tubeless and going that low?