With the move fast approaching, I’m really relishing the idea of trading my car for a bike to get everywhere I’m going. I’ve been doing some research in my current community and have decided that not only is this really possible, it’s actually practical and realistic…with or without any new bicycle infrastructure.
In fact, I put together this video using my GoPro camera last night to prove it…to myself if not to anyone else. It was a ten mile round trip, and I doubled back quite a bit to get all these places in. I rode past five grocery stores (Meijer, Walmart, Kroger, Marsh, Aldi), the bank, insurance agent’s place, post office, library, hardware store, pet shop, movie theatres, church, Starbucks, Panera Bread, countless other restaurants and just about every other place in town that Jan and I are likely to go on any given day. All were accessible. I never once felt that I was in any danger from traffic, even though I rode through parking lots and along some pretty busy roads. My journey included multiuse trails, country lanes, and busy US highways. I had no problems at all.
But it was a bright sunny evening. What happens when the snow flies? What do I do then?
First things first. I’m not concerned with getting wet or having a little snow in my eyes. They make clothes and equipment for that sort of thing, and people pay thousands of dollars to fly to places like Park City Utah and wait in line for a lift up a mountain to slide down through piles of snow. Most survive. Most would do it again if given the chance. If you’ve never ridden a bicycle on snow, you have no idea how exhilarating it can be…think skiing without the $100 lift ticket. Dress properly and you’ll stay comfortable.
But I need to stay safe, too. Buying groceries (or even hardware) should not be an extreme sport, and so I need a bicycle that is stable and well-mannered on snow and ice and can get me to the store when my four wheeled brethren are sliding into ditches. Then it hit me like a lightning bolt I need a fat bike. I explained this to Jan. I said something about if I was a football fan that the Direct Ticket subscription and beer would cost more than the bike. I think it’s working. I think she sees the wisdom of my argument. Then again, who really knows?
Most modern fat bikes, or fatties as they are affectionately known, are aluminum. I’m not a big fan of aluminum frames. They ride rough and are subject to catastrophic failure if you fall and damage them. Sure, they’re lighter, but not that much lighter. Don’t even get me started on Scandium. No, give me good old-fashioned CroMoly steel any day. That narrows down my choices considerably. Fortunately, the best choice makes the cut.
I’m think I’m going to get a Surly Pugsley. It’s a relatively affordable bicycle. It can be outfitted with racks and fenders and all the things necessary to keep me relatively comfortable yet still carry a load. It has disk brakes. Gnarly. Surly just about created the fat bike segment of the market, so they know what they’re doing when it comes to design and build. Best of all, it’s steel and steel is real.
The Pugs is a heavy bike, weighing in at around 40 lbs. depending on how it’s configured. I wouldn’t want to take it on a century or ride it in a triathalon, but to go 5 miles to the grocery store and coffeehouse it’s no big thing. I can lift it onto a bus rack or roll it onto a train, no problemo. It’s the Jeep Wrangler of bicycles…stable on the road but just as comfortable mixing it up with mountain goats. Those fat tires look like they mean business, which means that maybe it will garner a little respect from motorists. It sits relatively low to the ground which means it should be stable under load. If I hurry, I can get it in green and I have this thing for green bikes.
I plan to test ride one in Ogden next week. If I like it, then that’s the way I’m going. I never saw this coming…not in a million years, but the Pugsley will be my daily rider. ..my new Jeep Wranger as it were. The price tag on mine is about 3% of what Chrysler charges. Best of all, it’s even more fun and the insurance payments are, well, there are no insurance payments. No gas either. Excellent.