Mike Galoob and I have been planning a fat bike ride for a while now. For one reason or another though the stars just never seemed to align so that we could both escape our obligations long enough to put together something good. Something…epic. And then, just when frustration was really beginning to set in, it happened. A blizzard. On a day when the shop was closed. When both of us had an entire day to devote solely to riding our bikes. It was, in the truest sense of the words, The Perfect Storm.
As mentioned in Part One, Fat Fever has gripped the shop for months. Mike might have it the worst (or best depending how you look at it). He has replaced his traditional mountain bike with a full-time fat bike. He continually reminds us how capable the big tires are whether the terrain is single track, sand, rocks or snow. Being new to the fatness I was eager to try out my bike on these surfaces and more. The problem is that almost no one location features all of them in one spot. We discussed this at length and the idea for our ride was born.
It just so happened that on this past Monday the shop was closed, a storm was immanent and we both had clear schedules. In order to explore the capabilities of our bikes we decided to link our favorite traditional riding spots as well as a few unconventional areas we hadn’t spent much time in. The idea was to ride from one location to another, trying the bikes on sand, snow, gravel, trail and road. We would meet in the morning at Rome Point in North Kingstown, ride to Ryan Park, head west to Big River and Arcadia in West Greenwich, then south to Burlingame and return to our start point. Easy enough, right?
Well…no. Our plan was to be on the road by 830am but naturally we were both running late. Mike was going to ride to the ride but ran into tubeless trouble and had to return home to fix his problem. In the interest of time I decided to meet him in South Kingstown and we would instead start our adventure from there. All in all we were finally rolling by 930am. The snow was beginning to fall and we were psyched to have a whole day of riding ahead of us.
We headed towards Narragansett in search of some sand. The temperature was about 18 degrees and ice was everywhere so the world was pretty much our oyster. We rode through coves and over marshes, snapped a few pics and moved on towards destination number two: Rome Point in North Kingstown.
Unfortunately the most direct route from Narragansett to North Kingstown is Route 1A, which for the unfamiliar is a paved main road. We detoured through Bonnet Shores to ride on the beach and then cut though URI’s Bay Campus to explore the rocky beach. Looking back this was probably my favorite part of the ride. I honestly didn’t think a bike could ride through terrain like this but low and behold, the Fatboy plowed right though. Beastly!
We continued up towards Rome Point for some more beach riding, heading under the Jamestown Bridge along the coast line and watching visibility drop lower and lower as the snow began to thickly fall. Cruising through Rome Point the realization that conditions were rapidly changing began to occur as my studless 5″ tires slipped and slid through the corners while Mike’s 4″ studded rubber clawed for traction and made the gap between us bigger and bigger. Inevitably I fell, using the opportunity to snap a few pics to cover for my poor bike handling skills before Mike came back looking for me. Shhhh!
From there Ryan Park was the next destination for some single track. We cruised through some access roads to get there, did a couple hot laps through an old pump track and quickly continued on via rail trails towards Big River.
Sometime around this point I realized that suspiciously smooth snow most likely has ice underneath. After a tough couple falls I was sure avoid these areas. Lesson learned.
After a quick pit stop for a snack, some hot chocolate and a little route planning it was back on the bikes. We rode along power line double track and gravel roads with ominous signs reading ‘Pass At Own Risk’. And is it just me or does every road in West Greenwich go uphill? It certainly felt like that anyway. We were about 5 hours in at this point and whew, I was feeling it. Reaching the New London Turnpike was a welcome relief as I finally began to recognize some familiar sights. It meant we were getting close to our next destination….Arcadia.
It was now around 4pm. I had originally told Ellen we’d be back by 230pm, but so much for that at this point. At first our plan was to ride a few trails in Big River, Arcadia and possibly even Burlingame if time allowed. Clearly, it did not. We cruised along the North South Trail through Carolina, realizing that the snow was falling faster and we were rapidly losing daylight.
A difficult decision was now upon us: continue on the NST or play it safe and head for home. We decided home was the best bet. I was pretty beat. Food was gone and we’d been riding quite a bit longer than originally planned. Every climb hurt, fatigue was setting in and I was mentally exhausted. I was getting sloppy, even riding directly into Mike at one point and nearly taking both of us down in the process. In times like this it gives you a totally new perspective and appreciation for those who take part in endurance fat bike races such as the Iditarod in Alaska. A quick detour through the Duval Trails in South Kingstown was the final stop before heading back to the car and wrapping things up. What an adventure it had been.
The bike had performed flawlessly. This was one of the most fun rides I’d been on in a long time. Sometimes a new bike motivates you to go places and do something you wouldn’t otherwise take on. Do you have to go ride 58 miles in a snowstorm to enjoy it? Of course not. Does it make for a great story? Absolutely!
This ride taught me many things. Perhaps most importantly though it gave me a completely new perspective as to the capabilities of a fat bike. It is said that these bikes can go nearly anywhere, but really, it’s the truth. The control and stability is out of this world and if you’re looking for one bike to take you anywhere and everywhere I can confidently say you’ve found it. A fat bike will allow you to go places you never imagined, and the smile you’ll wear in the process will be from ear to ear. If you haven’t ridden one yet stop by the shop and give it a try. Rent one for the weekend and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Better yet, look for Mike and I. We’ll probably still be smiling.