Fat-landers and Freightliners


I walked in the shop and he was still taping up the bars. I was envious! So tasty. This Surly Ice Cream Truck sports 5 inch tires, drop bars and a brand new Brooks saddle. It is menacing to say the least. This combo puts it over the top and into its own category. Pure viciousness. Not to mention the massive saddle to bar drop.  As I said, we are flat-landers and this beast is perfectly suited for long flat stretches of crushed limestone prarie path. Only to be ridden how a roadie likes to ride his fat bike-FAST. When the momentum of those massive gyroscopic wheels roll up to speed and C gets in his drop position, I know were in for a fast ride! The combination of big, power and speed is something we cannot get from our other bikes.

We rolled out for this week’s Thursday night ride.  A few months earlier we were the only ones able to roll through snow-covered routes in sub freezing darkness. Now, we retain that ritual as we punish ourselves while taking our fat bikes on as hard and fast a pace as we can sustain, on nights perfectly suited for riding. I anxiously await this. I need to break up the week of road riding with what I consider a liberating treat.

droppedTonight was a particularly good night, we rolled out pre-dusk, chatted a bit, then soon entered a tree-lined tunnel of path that invited us to put the hammer down. We found ourselves doing a nice little climb on the local garbage dump turned, sled hill (remember we are flatlanders), bombed down the loose gravel side, found some new routes, got kinda lost, and then rode some twisty path sections at night while I learned some great insights on handling my fattie at speed on loose conditions.

I believe it is critical to find a highlight in every ride. It may be a moment where you find yourself feeling strong on a solid pull, a sprint, or a great climb. Whatever it is, pocket that moment and when you need to, you can replay your own virtual ride.

For me, tonight’s highlight came as we did a stretch of straight flat path on our way back to the shop. It was getting dark and we were at the brink of dusk. The path was a dark tunnel sheltered by a canopy of green sparsely lit by the natural skylights above. My headlight was full on and C’s was on strobe, creating an ominous hypnotic effect. Bringing to mind an F-16’s lights prepping for a night-time takeoff. He and I worked up to speed and traded pulls. The turbines were screaming.

Working hard, we were rolling north of 20 mph. Hammering our fatties like road bikes was no less than exhilarating. The crackling rumble over the gravel when that massive amount of rubber rolls, combined with the hum and echo of our drive train reverb through our steel framed instruments is an ominous yet simultaneously calming sound. As I ease in behind C. Our knobby tires are only a few inches apart, I grab as much aero as he has to give. He pins it, head down low in that massive drop position, mocking any

my favorite shirt
my favorite shirt

wind resistance as he charges through it. Pistons pumping those massive rubber shoes kicking up stones as they bounce of my glasses. From time to time, he effortlessly grabs air and clears the occasional stagnant mud pool. He signals my pull and I jump on. Getting as low as I can I keep the pace strong. The legs burn but we are in a zone. I find soothing comfort as the speed and power I feel is the fuel that feeds the pain. I sustain it as long as I can somehow mentally transforming myself into the fast rolling heaviness of a 10 ton Freightliner.

Tonight, my legs speak to me. They tell me I am getting stronger.  They are sore yet satisfied. Tomorrow will be a good reminder of tonight’s ride.


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