Salsa Mukluk gets a ride to the trailhead in my 4Runner
I first rode a fatbike in ’08 when my brother and I borrowed a couple Surly Pugsleys for some singletrack adventures in Theodore Wirth Park in Minneapolis. Last winter I borrowed and rode a different Pugsley as well as the new Salsa Mukluk from the local LBS, Bangtail Bikes. Â A couple weeks ago I borrowed the latest version of the Mukluk for a six mile night ride on slushy, snowy singletrack. Â From summer Forest Service road touring to beach riding to snowy singletrack these fatbikes are proving themselves as awesome… and I want one.
A short drive North of my fair burgh of Bozeman is a sub-range called the Bangtails. It has been heavily ravaged by logging over the decades and is home to a diverse crowd of users in/on logging trucks, motorbikes, snowmobiles, bicycles, foot, and ORV. Along the crest of this length of earth rising around 2,000′ above the valley floor is a gem of a piece of singletrack stretching twenty-six miles – – yes, that’s right – – twenty-six miles of single-track trail. It parallels a stretch of asphalt highway so a trail user can drive to the end, drop off their car, pedal 8.25 miles along the highway to the start and then begin the knee-busting and back-ache-causing climb up switchback after switchback to the crest.
Nothing but delight follows upon reaching the top of the Bangtail Divide however as the rider is treated to glorious views of the Bridger Range immediately to the West, the Crazies to the East, the Gallatins and Madisons to the South, and a glimpse of the Absaroka-Beartooth to the Southeast.
But the views are only the beginning. Although the trail is shared with motorcyclists and can from time to time be pockmarked with the damage caused by how much power can be put to a wheel by a 2 or 4-stroke engine the riding is delicious. Long, open, sloping meadows of pedal-free sections of absolutely flowy riding appear in glorious .25 and .5 mile sections. Short climbs are followed by long, long sections of wooded downhill with sharp but bermed switchbacks and bumps and rolls that just flow by underwheel as you get over the back wheel and send the front into the air, sailing freeform.
You cross one dirt road in two places during the ride atop the crest but it’s a mellow, undisturbing crossing. You may see a 4×4 pickup full of guys with beers out shooting guns but this is Montana. Give a wave and if they’re shooting close-by perhaps you can finally get a chance to shoot that .50 caliber handgun you saw in “Snatch”. Riding past Olsen Creek road you’ve got one more climb before the Coup de grÃ¢ce that is Grassy Mountain.
Grassy Mountain is a destination ride in and of itself. Many a Bozemanite drives to the terminus of the Bangtail Divide to climb the trail in reverse only to turn around a few miles later to ride this wonderful piece of flowing downhill. After having ridden more than a marathon’s distance and probably feeling pretty tired there is something pretty smashing about throwing your seatpost to it’s lowest and hammering out a few cranks up to speed for five-plus miles of sweet, sweet downhill singletrack. Thickly wooded trees swoosh past you as you wheelie over roots and holes, whip around switchbacks and slice natural, bermed wall-rides. Finish it all by crossing a small wooded bridge, compress your brakes to their fullest, layout a skid in the parking lot, and go fish out the beers you stashed in the creek. You just pwned a classic piece of SW Montana singletrack.
I was visiting the community bike shop, Free Cycles Missoula last weekend and while there I took a picture of a sticker they had posted next to their bicycle lube station. It read, “WD-40 is not lube”. For the cycle wrenching geeks out there this statement will give you a bit of a laugh. For those not into the joke do a bit of Googling so that you too can become a future bike geek.
I liked the sticker so when I got home I pointed my web browser to the link that was printed below the slogan and found out that the folks that printed the sticker, WorldsBestBikeStickers.com were clearly bike geeks and have a whole host of nifty stickers not only for your bicycle but also for your – *gasp* – car as well. Here are a few of their stickers that I like.
In 2009 I had the idea to do an apartment move using only a bicycle. I started out with just a bike and a trailer and made some decent progress but knew that some “bigger guns” were necessary to really get the job done. I borrowed my buddy Mason’s bucket bike, a Madsen, as well as his DIY trailer. With that rig I was really able to get some hauling done and I successfully moved everything I owned under my own power.
The following year my lease was up again and when the time came to move I prepared my stuff carefully, boxing it all so that I could invite some good friends over (all whom have access to longtail cargo bikes) for a couple hauling trips. We moved the majority of my stuff in just two trips (there were around six people present).
Fast forward to 2011. My lease is up again and I’ve got other bike moves under my belt as well as a few bike moves helping other friends. My roomate opts to do his move by bike this year as well so we start boxing and e-mailing friends. He and I start hauling loads of his stuff on weekday mornings but I leave all of my stuff for one evening when I’ve invited a half dozen folks over to help.
There are still a few things left to move but the I’ve collected some video along the way and made a short film for bike nerds to enjoy. Â If you’re reading this blog post through e-mail or an RSS reader be sure to click the link to see the video.
May is National Bike Month here in the States (but I’d recommend celebrating it anywhere in the world) and this week (May 16th – 20th) is officially designated as Bike Week. I sit on the Bozeman Area Bicycle Advisory Board and we plan a whole host of events in Bozeman throughout the week. Each morning cyclists gather at various local coffee shops for free coffee and breakfast goodies on their way to work. Also, in the afternoons and evenings of each week there are other cycling-related events such as maintenance clinics, cycling movies, kids bike rodeos and more. Do you commute by bicycle or walking year-round? During the summer? Occasionally? Never? Let me know, and get out there and get healthy!
Recently Xtracycle Bikes put the call out for submittals for a contest they were calling Morebadasser. They were deliberately open-ended in their definition for what the contest would entail…
…we are calling on those that can emulate the concept of morebadasser in video format to noodle on and create a short (15-30sec) video of why Xtracycles are the kings at badasserness.
Anyone who has been reading this blog or who follows my Twitter feed knows I spend a fair amount of time riding bicycles and a fair amount of that time is spent hauling stuff on bicycles. I entered a couple videos into the contest, one was of a bunch of my friends helping me do a bike move and the other was a friend and I racing a cyclocross race. Both of these videos featured the beautiful FreeRadical kits from Xtracycle.
They didn’t get many entries to the contest – two to be exact – both from me, but I have it on good word that I probably would have won anyway because my cyclocross video was just that much morebadasser than anything that could have gotten entered.
The idea behind MoreBadasser is stated in the phrase, “If you have to ask, you ain’t.” It is prominently displayed on an embroidered hat alongside a graphic of a longtail cargo bike. Check one out for yourself at the morebadasser.com website.
For me 2011 is shaping up to be the year of the new bicycle. I think the last new bicycle I owned was a rad litte number made by Diamond Back. It was a freestyle bike with mag wheels, front and rear pegs, and a frame that was purpose-welded for frame-stands. Hell yeah I did some tricks with that bike that I’m sure made my mom cover her eyes rather that watch!
I’m a bit older now and my cycling life centers around bicycle commuting.Â Rather than being excited about bar hops, cherry pickers, and frame-stands I get jazzed about how hardcore it is to ride to work in -10 deg F. weather. I’ve been looking for the perfect commuter bicycle to handle the task of using everyday to haul my ass to work as well as hauling cardboard and cans to the recycling center. On top of these utilitarian needs I wanted a bicycle that would be ready for a late-Friday afternoon decision to head out for some bike-camping with my #wolfpack from The Bozeman Fix.
Surly Bikes decided to drop their new Troll frame last fall and I pretty much started drooling at first view. At this time I began doing some bank account math regarding what was more important – food on my dinner table or a new rig in my stable and quickly decided my hard-earned pennies were best spent sourcing a parts list that would make most any cycle commuter start a constant drool.Â Â The frame was only the beginning.Â It represented the foundation for a bicycle built with an 8-speed internal rear hub, a power-generating dynamo front hub, a super-ultra-awesome front and rear light system, and topping it off, a whole host of practical parts like disc brakes, swept-back handlebars, fenders, a big ol’ grocery basket, and the list goes on. If you’re really interested in exactly what went into the build, comment below or contact me and I’ll set you up with a parts list.
In the video below I present the build process of my newly-aquired 2011 Surly Troll frameset as seen from the ground up in timelapse form. The beer-drinking, rock-n-roll-listenin’ mechanics shown are Casey, Mike, and Sam. Thanks also goes to Mason and Bangtail Bikes for their help – even though they don’t appear in the vid. These guys are nerds and proud of it. Show ’em your love in the comments section, folks.
Quality Bicycle Products supplied my favorite local shop, Bangtail Bikes with a couple demo snowbikes recently. Mike and I have taken them out on three separate occasions and put roughly fifteen miles on them.
Both rides are equipped with Surly tires. These tires are inflated to an amazingly low six p.s.i. of pressure and are sized at 3.8 in. (9.65 cm) wide. The flotation from these things is spectacular for riding on snow or sand.
It’s no doubt that a number of the readers of this blog are familiar with the Pugsley snowbike; probably having heard either directly or offhandedly in their use along “The Lost Coast”, Iditabike, or the Arrowhead 135. The Salsa Mukluk frameset is new and doesn’t yet have the same badass reputation as the Pugsley. Cyclists are stoked about it however because it differs from the Pugsley in that the wheels aren’t offset from center making for a slightly smoother turning action. Personally I don’t mind the offset because most of the usage of these bikes are at relatively slow speeds on highly-diverse terrain not making the offset as noticeable as it would be at speed on asphalt.
I first rode a Pugsley in 2009 while visiting family in Minnesota. My brother and I took them out for a trail ride in the popular mountain biking destination, Theodore Wirth Park in Minneapolis. The riding on a packed snow trail is excellent and rivals summertime singletrack riding. That evening after the trail riding we sessioned the bikes for a couple hours jibbing on snowbanks for a few hours.
This past weekend Mike and I took the Pugsley and Mukluk to the Chestnut Mountain trailhead near Bozeman and were able to ride them about 1.5 miles up the trail before the amount of foot traffic had lessened enough to not provide an adequate riding surface. Riding back down the 1.5 miles was exhilarating. There’s little scarier than having both front and rear disc brakes locked up as you and your bike slide left and right along a steep switchback section of trail.
View an interactive map of our route on Chestnut Mountain at Everytrail.com.
I was visiting family in Minnesota for the past week and had a chance to get out with my brother who is an avid cyclist and photographer. We chose a night ride at Murphy Hanrehan Park Reserve located south of Minneapolis.
Scott was on a full-suspension Ventana and I borrowed his single-speed Salsa Selma, a fine specimen of a 29er constructed of scandium tubing with carbon seatstays. We both had high-powered HID light systems which worked well for the first seven miles until Scott’s pooped out. We opted to ride a dirt road back to the trailhead rather than cut our speed in half and try to ride with one light. All in all it was superb to get out for a ride with my brother.