A few weeks ago I participated in a local mountain bike club's group fat bike ride on the banks of the Mississippi River. I am a fairly anti-social and typically don't join these clubs or participate in these activities. I would like to say however, that this particular group is nice, unlike some others I have tried to ride with in the past. It is not that I don't like people or their club activities (most of the time), it is mostly due to time constraints like work and family. In this case the club is very welcoming, I just don't have the time to meet regularly and therefore I don't make a lot of friends.
Anyway, I felt compelled to go on this ride and since it was a federal holiday weekend (four days off at home) my wife would quickly grow tired of me pestering her. She is a good wife, she understands me and forced me to go. The Mississippi River has been very low this year due to the drought which makes fat biking down the banks of the river a lot of fun.
The idea behind this ride was to start in downtown Davenport, ride down the river bank, go around Credit Island, then cross a fancy bike bridge, and ride a mile or so down to a cozy little establishment called Dee's Enchanted Inn to eat and consume alcohol before returning. It had about 70 people in attendance. Not all of them were on fat bikes, but I would say the vast majority were.
Over all the ride was nice. It was fun to see so many fat bikes and while I don't drink alcohol, I was mostly interested in the group ride. So, when we stopped an hour or so into the ride (which was not a long way) for a beer break I was reminded of why I usually dislike group rides. You are kind of stuck conforming to the group agenda. It was about 25 degrees with a little wind and I was growing tired of standing around and happy to get rolling again. I am not sure how some of them were able to ride home.
One of the great things about fat bikes is how "easily" they roll through crazy terrain.
No trails.....No problem.
Even more fat bikes. I have loved 29ers since I got my first one. I thought they were big. Then I see a 29er parked next to a group of fat bikes and it looks skinny! Clearly a 26 inch or 29er can and did ride over this terrain but I guarantee there is a clear difference in how they (both the bike and rider) feel while bush whacking.
Things started to get a little rowdy at Dee's so I packed up and headed back solo. I found this to be the most enjoyable part of the ride. I continued the ride around Credit Island.
It was nice and sunny though the temperature did not warm up which made the ride back a little easier.
As I rode through this channel I was suprised. At first glance it appeared that life was going to get muddy but the water was frozen and mud was firm even though it looked like it was liquid.
With low pressure, these tires are amazing on this type of terrain. Logs, mud, and ice are much "easier" with fat tires.
Stern Wheeler on the Mississippi.
I like the Endomorph tire and I am sad to see it go. It does very well on terrain like this and I am not sure why Surly is ending production.
At the end of the day there was a little more partying than riding, that can be the danger of a group ride. It was also advertised as that, so I am glad I took off early and returned solo. I enjoy the peace that comes from riding. The river is very high now, all of these places are now underwater and it could be years before the river is this low again. I doubt I will ever ride it like this again. I am grateful for the opportunity to get out and ride something different.