“Stop, let me get a good look at it
Oh, so thick, now I know why they call it a fatty”– Justin Timberlake, Suit and Tie
You ever find yourself having so much fun your face hurts from smiling? Or maybe you just discover that that laugh you’ve been hearing for the last 30 minutes is actually coming from your own face?
Sometimes that kind of fun is simply uncontrollable. And when I discover I’m experiencing it, I just laugh harder. Like it’s funny as snot that I’m having that much fun. Unrealistic.
Well that’s how today’s trail ride was. Dave rented us a couple of fat bikes- his Christmas present to me- and we took them out to Loma. Just getting that far was a tough decision. I’ve made so many wrong ones lately that I really had to think about it. Dave suggested we just ride around the SS, but I thought Rustler’s would be a fun adventure. The poor man actually listened to me.
We got to the TH and were surprised to find 4 other vehicles there. We suited up and headed out. The first climb is always challenging, but on an unfamiliar bike and a-typical terrain it was borderline scary. It probably took me 30 minutes to get my body to relax enough to let the bike do the work. This is a new concept for me. Let me explain.
“You play the horn, it doesn’t play you.” was a common phrase I used when teaching. When I started learning to mountain bike I used the same philosophy: “You ride the bike, it doesn’t ride you.” The idea is that you can control the bike, the horn, the car…the equipment of whatever. But on the fat bike, it was another story. Attempting to exert control over the thing was like trying to drive a roller coaster. You just have to let it go. Pedal and float.
So over the first part every bump led to a butt-smacking experience. It was so funny to me I laughed, heartily. Repeatedly. I had several fails on obstacles, ones that I have long since stopped to even title as such. But rather than feeling the failure or frustration, I felt the fun. The fatty fun.
The Rustler’s DH was like something out of a dream. It felt like I was floating down the trail- and I guess I kind of was. We got back to the TH, chatted it up with a couple guys who had just come off Horsethief, took a drink, and decided that Rustler’s went so well, maybe we could do something just a little crazy. We opted to climb up Wrangler.
Now, Wrangler isn’t a particularly difficult climb, on dirt and with our 29ers. But it has had very little trail love lately. It’s mostly 4 inches of re-frozen snow (read: billions of tiny bits of ice), pock-marked with footprints. Probably the worst kind of terrain for a fat bike.
We dropped air pressure, and climbed. And climbed. And slipped. And rested. And climbed. And climbed. And rested. It was a EPIC CHALLENGE FOR THE AGES!! Yup. Even funny writing about it.
We made it to the top-ish, some dirt sections, rolling trail, while I started singing some of my favorite lines from “Baby Got Back”. Completely appropriate song. And again, I was laughing.
Mary’s was pretty heavily packed, and we stopped to check out the Horsethief drop-in. Dave offered to put air in my tires, but I was worried about my wrist in conjunction with the lack of suspension on the DH. So we pushed along the double-track- and took the drop as it came. I floated and flew down the trail. It was immensely crazy fun. Laughing all the way.
We got down and I waited and watched Dave’s descent. He said I was like crazy fast (maybe suicidal?), but he always says that when we hit that exact same GPS coordinate. So I’m not sure how much I believe him. I just said it was extremely fun and I felt comfortable.
Here is the lesson. I could not control the bike. But I could control my body. On the climb I kept my seat light, with more weight balanced over the pedals. On the flats I pushed forward with my pedals to make the energy count. On the descent I maintained my inherent suspension- relaxing my joins and letting the bike flow.
Maybe I should be treating life a little more like riding a fat bike. Instead of trying to force control, I could simply relax my body, accept the terrain, work the things I can, and let it flow.