|Ready to head out for the ride.|
However, this year we have the fat bikes and so we planned a big loop in the snow on them. All season I have been wanting to put together and complete some bigger, longer rides on the fat bikes. We have even done a few longer rides that covered some pretty good terrain. The only problem though, is that we are coming to realize the simple truth that fat bike miles are drastically different than miles tallied on most other bikes. It all makes sense really, huge squishy tires, a bike that weighs nearly twice as much as a normal bike. You are also riding on snow, which typically has much more rolling resistance than pavement or dirt. As best we can figure, fat bike miles are about 1.5x to MTB miles and a solid 2-2.5x to road miles. That means 10 miles on the fat bike is like 15 miles on the MTB or 20-25 on the road bike. That obviously changes with conditions but is probably pretty close. We based it mostly on a ride time/effort comparison between the three.
|Heading back from Gilead.|
|A little icy.|
It has really been a battle to try and stay warm this year. Every year it seems to get worse, which probably means that every year I keep doing more damage and making it worse. I've gone a bit to extremes though, at least with the hands. For really cold days, I've switched to big huge expedition style mittens. They are bulky and make it hard to control the bike but my hands stay warm. On warmer days I will use big, heavily insulated downhill ski gloves. Overkill maybe but cold hands stink. The feet have been a bigger challenge though. This is because of the clipless pedals of course and the metal cleat heat-sink mounted to the sole. I've talked about it before so won't again. This year we have taken our warmest winter specific MTB boots, Pear Izumi GTX winter and paired them with Pearl Izumi Elite Barrier insulated overboots. This provides good protection and insulation while doing a pretty good job at handling the perspiration. At night I am good for a few hours and in the day I have made it over five hours with this setup.
My second bet was a smaller loop, one that we had done at least the bulk of in the past. This loop headed North/West on snowmobile trail that skirts RT2 and the Eastern side of the Androscoggin River from Bethel to Gilead. Usually good trail with some good views of the river. Luckily a recon the night before showed the trail to be well traveled and packed. From Gilead we would cross the river and RT2 and take sled trail which follows RT2 back toward Bethel. This trail has had much recent improvement making it flatter but still has a couple of very steep climbs and descents. Once almost back to Bethel we would follow Flat Road onto the gas line and cross over RT35 at Songo Pond to Vernon Street and up into Greenwood the back way, coming out at Irish Neighborhood and then over Rabbit Road and back home. All of this was on snowmobile trail of course. A good loop, all on stuff that we had ridden before and all close to home, relatively.
My hope was to make it to Gilead in an hour. I'm not smart and I can't do long math. We make it to Gilead in like a half hour on the road bikes. OK, maybe 35 minutes. It is 12 miles. We have never done a 12mph average fat bike ride. Why did I think we would start an epic at a record pace? Optimistic maybe. Needless to say, an hour and half and some really good trail culminating in some really steep grunt climbs that we couldn't quite make and we crossed the river and RT2 in Gilead.
|Nice bridge crossing.|
|Expanses and backdrops.|
Food and a hot shower and then we met up with friends at the Bethel Inn for happy hour followed by cake from our favorite bakery, Concord Teacakes (which I picked up myself and felt like a big loser asking them to write 'Happy Birthday Mike' on) and dinner at our place.
An excellent day and a wonderful Birthday. The best one ever, so far.