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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    north woods of Wisconsin
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    872

    Joanie's winter fat bike park

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    Since riding fat bikes in the snow is still a fairly new thing in the bike world and something done on a regular basis only in true snow country (where snow accumulates all though the winter), not many folks get a chance to try it. Today, then, thought I would take you along for a ride on one of the fat bikes in my very own MTB and fat bike park, built on our property, winter style.

    The overall miles in my park is now close to three miles if you connected all the sections, together. In the winter, though, I only keep a little less than two miles open buy either shoveling or using a snow blower or both. Trust me, it is an enormous physical undertaking to keep up with the falling snow for the sake of keeping trails open and ready to ride, but the rewards for me are even greater. Believe me when I say, there is nothing else in the biking world to compare to riding in the snow covered northern forest in the dead of winter. It's technically demanding, always challenging and not without its dangers, but it is also an achingly beautiful and rewarding experience. I love it in a way that's hard to put into words.

    Our snow base is now somewhere between one and two feet, depending on the section of trail and exposure to the wind and sun. In open areas where drifting occurs, you can see that my trails now resemble canyons and we have lots more snow and winter to come.


    Here's a section of the trail with a bridge that we built over what is swampy lowlands in the summer. All filled in with snow and ice, now.


    When snow conditions are right, I'm often able to go for a ride out on the ice on our 77 acre lake. That is an experience all its own, too. On some sub-zero days, I can ride the ice and listen to it moan and groan beneath me. Other than neighbor who might be ice-fishing, I nearly always have the lake to myself. Very easy to imagine, then, that I am riding 50 miles back in the wilderness.


    When snow conditions are not right on the lake for the bikes, there's always XC skiing. The stuff of winter dreams.


    Here I am at the top of a quarter mile down hill run, though the pic doesn't show just how steep it really is. On a good day in the summer, I can max out at over 18 mph, twisting and turning and dodging, perilously, as I drop down the trail. In the winter, with the trail being covered and packed with snow and ice, I'm a bit more cautious, though.


    My husband is not up to the skill level needed to do this kind of trail riding, but I'm never alone when I ride. Star, our Border Collie never lets me ride, alone. Could't ask for a better pal on the trail (and she knows the trail system as well as I do.)


    For riding in the winter, I use a variety of fat bikes setup with different tires to best match the snow and trail conditions, very much as a XC skier chooses the right skis and wax on a given day. Most of my fat bikes are Norco, a Canadian brand. They truly excel for riding in my winter playground.


    Come on up for a ride. Joanie's bike park is always open.
    Last edited by north woods gal; 02-05-2018 at 01:50 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Concord, MA
    Posts
    13,281
    I am so jealous of the amount of snow you have!
    2015 Trek Silque SSL
    Specialized Oura

    2011 Guru Praemio
    Specialized Oura

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    north woods of Wisconsin
    Posts
    872
    Be glad to send you some. Fairly average snow depth for this time of year. We're just far enough north to have winter temps that rarely get above freezing, so the snow accumulates all winter. Winter sports are a huge part of our economy. We love our snow, up here. We get to play in it all winter long.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
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    Traveling Nomad
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    That is gorgeous, NWG! I can imagine the effort to maintain those trails in the snow, but so worth it for you. I am sure Star has a blast also. Thank you for sharing!

    Now, I'll stop whining about having to ride in 50s-60s, when I would prefer even warmer!
    Emily

    2011 Jamis Dakar XC "Toto" - Selle Italia Ldy Gel Flow
    2007 Trek Pilot 5.0 WSD "Gloria" - Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow
    2004 Bike Friday Petite Pocket Crusoe - Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,937
    Beautiful photos and beautiful trails! Thanks for posting.

    Around here were there are many people and lots of traffic, snow is just a nuisance. You are in the type of place where you can really enjoy it.

    - Gray Trek Madone 4.7 road bike, mystery crack in top tube repaired by Calfee, Bontrager Affinity RXL saddle
    - Red Trek 6000 mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver Trek 2000 road bike
    - Two awesome and worn out Juliana saddles

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    north woods of Wisconsin
    Posts
    872
    Thanks, all.

    Emily, as we've discussed before, my cold weather riding is all about acclimation. Doing a little bit of riding every day as the season gets progressively colder allows me to slowly acclimate to the cold. No way could I handle these temperatures, otherwise. If you've been experiencing 70s and then drop, suddenly into the 40s or 50s, that would be a challenge for me, too.

    N.Y., yes, you are so right on attitudes toward snow. Up here, it's a huge part of our winter economy, because the snow stays put all winter long. We get skiers and snowmobile people from all over the country. Snow is much appreciated and considered a blessing. When we don't get our snow, people actually get very depressed and upset. Just the opposite of most places. Also helps that we are retired and no longer work, so we don't have to drive in the snow unless it suits us. Even if we had to drive in the snow, no problem, though. Snow removal is an ongoing thing. We have a fleet of snowplows that are always out and working, as needed. Even our roads are designed for snow removal with wide shoulders and plenty of room on either side to pile the snow.
    Last edited by north woods gal; 02-07-2018 at 04:51 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Concord, MA
    Posts
    13,281
    Some of this got me thinking how the attitude toward snow and storms has changed a) in the 28 years I've lived in the area I live in now and b) from when I was a kid, living in an inner ring suburb, next to Boston, maybe 20 miles from where I am now.
    When I was a kid, we had big storms, even if we knew one was predicted, they sent us to school, and then had some scary bus rides home, when we were released early. They plowed the streets, but they were still snow covered. I lived on a little hill and basically sled down my street and a lot of others for a few days after a storm. We'd be home for days.
    When I first moved back, in 1990, it wasn't much different. The first town I lived in, is about 15 miles north of where I am now, on the NH border. They canceled school a lot more, since the town had a wide geographic area and was hilly. Sometimes I had school (teaching) when my kids didn't. Now, everything is done ahead of time, with districts canceling school the night before, instead of at 5 AM. Businesses encourage employees to work from home, as does the state. Some businesses shut down. Now, even restaurants close, so their employees can be safe. Perhaps not in the city, but definitely around here. The roads are pre-treated and plowed down to the blacktop, so no opportunity to sled down the street. Yesterday, we had a storm that started around 11 am, heavy snow for a few hours, turning to rain, then ice in some places. It was predicted perfectly, and most schools had school in the morning, with early release, so the kids could get home before it got bad. That counts as a full day for the state.
    But, it's like we've forgotten how to deal with the snow!
    2015 Trek Silque SSL
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  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    north woods of Wisconsin
    Posts
    872
    Weather forecasting has improved in terms of accuracy and in terms of advance notice on storms. It's definitely changed the way people and institutions deal with snow. Over my adult lifetime, I had mixed feeling about snow. Loved it if I could get out and play in it or just enjoy from home, but dreaded it if I had to get out and be somewhere. Even so, some of my best memories were the times in my life where I actually commuted back and forth to work on my bicycle when it snowed. Also good for a chuckle, now and then. Couple of times in Chicago, during a snow storm, car traffic was backed up for miles, but there I was, passing everyone by riding in the ditch or a sidewalk or sometimes even carrying the bike over drifts, laughing as I went. I was moving while everyone else was trapped in their cars, going nowhere. Made it home in nearly my usual commuting time. Next day, my fellow employees were reporting that many of them were trapped in the car fo so long, people had to get out and relieve themselves on the side of the road. Yup, even in winter, bike commuting has its advantages.
    Last edited by north woods gal; 02-08-2018 at 07:11 AM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Traveling Nomad
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    Growing up in North Carolina, snow was always so much fun when it happened. For one thing, it was a novelty, and for another, we ALWAYS got a snow day or three from school!

    When I first started working, in the mid-80s, we would get snow days from work. As a result, for years I relished snow and wished for it. It was a magical day or two off from normal responsibilities.

    As we got towards the 2000s, though, we gained the ability to work from home via computers, so snow & ice days were no longer a day off but a day to work. Even though working from home was often better than going into the office, it wasn't nearly as much fun as a day off tramping around in the snow.

    I think that's when snow started becoming less fun for me and just a pain in the rear. It's still pretty, but when you have to go about your business in it, not so much fun, especially when the office opened back up but those of us in the outlying rural areas still had a tough time getting in.

    Now that I've spent the past seven winters in warm spots that see no snow, I haven't missed it one bit. Looking at photos and seeing it on the news is good enough for me!
    Emily

    2011 Jamis Dakar XC "Toto" - Selle Italia Ldy Gel Flow
    2007 Trek Pilot 5.0 WSD "Gloria" - Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow
    2004 Bike Friday Petite Pocket Crusoe - Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    north woods of Wisconsin
    Posts
    872
    We've lived up here for eight years, now. Snow and winter are such a big part of life in the north woods that I'm now at a point where it's even hard to remember what it was like to live in places with milder winters. You can't wait out the snow or the cold until the weather moderates, up here, like you can in other places. You have to embrace winter and adapt or, as some do, get the hell out of town for the winter. We know very few that take that option, though. Most stay and make the most of our winters. I think it does mark a person.

    My mother grew up in northern Minnesota. She used to tell me stories about how she used to ski or snowshoe to elementary school and how all the kids loved to ice skate in the winter. It's what they got to do at recess. When it came time for her to retire from her job in Nebraska, she headed right back to the north country and her beloved winters. All her colleagues thought she was nuts. They all had plans to move as far south as it took to escape snow and cold winters, but not her. She couldn't wait to get back to her north woods and what she called "real winters".
    Last edited by north woods gal; 02-08-2018 at 01:09 PM.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Concord, MA
    Posts
    13,281
    That is a good story, Northwoods!
    Emily, I agree with your take. I enjoy the snow because generally, I don't have to travel anywhere far in it, and if I do, well, I've got a car that can do it. No more 20-40 mile drives to work on a freeway in a blizzard. My office closes in bad storms, and yesterday, a day I don't usually work, I had scheduled 2 clients in the late afternoon because of my vacation coming up. I just cancelled them and rescheduled. Working fee for service gives you the right to do that, although if money was a big concern, it might suck. However, you can also reschedule as you please. And, although 28 years later, the thought of driving in the snow does not evoke a panic response as it did for years (which is what happens when you learn to do this at age 37), it's mostly because I can drive the flat 2 miles to work in an AWD car with snow tires. I can also walk to a grocery store, drugstore, and a Dunkin Donuts, about .5 mile away. Not the stores I usually go to, but they are stores. There's even a sidewalk.
    2015 Trek Silque SSL
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    2011 Guru Praemio
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  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    6,548
    Wow Wow Wow!!!!
    So long as the wheels are still turning, life is good.

    Battswebb

    Pinarello Quattro~CAADX~ Zurich Lemond
    Specialized Romin Saddles


    Surly Karate Monkey!!!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    california
    Posts
    1,243
    you're your mothers daughter for sure ....and wonderful photos of your land!!!!!!!

    here's some warmth for you ....from my lunchtime ride to lunch with alex and friend
    ‘The negative feelings we all have can be addictive…just as the positive…it’s up to
    us to decide which ones we want to choose and feed”… Pema Chodron

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    north woods of Wisconsin
    Posts
    872
    Warms me right up! Thanks. Haven't sent much time along the ocean, but what time I have has been glorious. Tugs at something deep inside of me. Probably no coincidence that my mother loved the ocean and sailing, too.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    6,548
    Quote Originally Posted by north woods gal View Post
    Warms me right up! Thanks. Haven't sent much time along the ocean, but what time I have has been glorious. Tugs at something deep inside of me. Probably no coincidence that my mother loved the ocean and sailing, too.


    I saw a video yesterday of a fatbiker who swapped his fork for a snow ski, and rode though the woods in an area that looked a lot like the trail photos you posted. Thought about posting the video here, but my reception wasn't good enough at the time to do it. Apparently, the ski fork is something you can order!
    So long as the wheels are still turning, life is good.

    Battswebb

    Pinarello Quattro~CAADX~ Zurich Lemond
    Specialized Romin Saddles


    Surly Karate Monkey!!!

 

 

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