Yes I own a fat bike, maybe two. But this year I sucked at getting out. Normally I would ride to work at least one or two days a week during the winter but it just wasn’t in the cards this year. Life has changed and I always put family first so my time to commute is limited. Luckily I was approved for a grant to help me get a “smart” trainer. Normally I would not even think twice about this, but not riding eats at me. I am such a different person when I don’t get the miles in. I said screw it. I ended up paying less than half of what this thing normally cost and if I hit my mileage goal its free. Thank you Semper Fi Fund. With nothing really to loose I decided to finally give training indoors a stab. When I registered the Wahoo Kickr I got a few different offers for free trials of different services that would work with the device to help me train. I decided to try zwift and trainer road. For me trainer road won because the android app works great and it gives me structured training plans which I assume might help me improve my fitness. Zwift was just weird. I loaded it up got it working on my kids laptop and ended up just riding around london which really kind of sucks. I didn’t get it maybe I zwifted wrong but they only gave a few days to figure it out whereas Trainer road gave me a month and was very simple from the get go.
While I enjoy having a structured workout and being able to ride from at home is great I quickly have realized that there is no replacement for riding outdoors. I love being able to deal with the elements, finish a route, or just go explore. I feel like having a trainer will keep me honest but I do not see myself skipping any opportunity to get some real rides in. That being said oppertunities have been slim so far this year. We did get a lot of snow which made me happy but it was never really setup great for groomed riding. As soon as it did a rain storm would come in and turn everything to ice or melt the entire base. If it wasn’t raining it was freezing cold. Couple that with my wife’s work schedule changing which has caused me to juggle responsibilities with my kids I have not gotten out much and I hate it.
The Highlight of my winter was finally getting up to Hayward for some groomed riding in the CAMBA system. That was an amazing experience. My kids were off school for 4 days so we packed up and headed north. We spent one night by the Mall of America before heading up to my parents house near Hayward. Since I had my kids I couldn’t really leave to go ride until my parents arrived Sunday evening. Since it was already late I opted to do some epic sledding and exploring of the frozen lake with my boys. Amazing experience since I literally did the same stuff probably 25 years ago to the day with my mom and grandma. Seeing them enjoy the winter up north is an experience i will cherish forever. I cannot wait for my parents to move up there permanently so I can make trips more often. Monday morning I left immediately after waking up to ride. I knew snow was in the forecast and I didn’t want to get snowed in at the house. By the time I hit the road flurries had started. I was very happy with my new tires on my forester and the way they handled the country roads and snow making it safely to the trailhead about 930am. I opted for Seeley Pass hearing that the conditions were pristine and was not let down. The trail is a two way outback type singletrack so I decided to head north for a bit until time ran out and then turn around. I didn’t make it far before the snow really started coming down. I kept pushing but eventually the voice in my head said turn around or you might get stuck out here. It really sucked because the snow was like velcro. My Dunder/Flow combo ate it up. I was smiling ear to ear the entire time. As the snow started to pick up though the conditions faded. Still rideable but I wanted to get to the car so I could make sure I didn’t get stuck in the parking lot. If I was with a group i definitely would have pushed on but oh well. The parking lot wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be and my forester made it out no problem which was both a bummer and a relief. I felt really uneasy about driving back to the house with time to kill. The weather was getting progressively worse, but I felt I could squeeze a little more riding in. I opted to try a new little piece of trail just over a mile long called the hospital gateway or something like that. I thought it would be near the hospital but little did I know it was actually in the hospital parking lot. I felt it was fitting since last time I was in hayward I actually broke my collar bone riding and had a little visit there so I guess I should have worded my text to my mom a little different when I informed her I was at the hospita…. be home soon haha. My choice payed off though. conditions there were great and the ride though short was a blast with tons of flow and very little climbing or technical features making it perfect for a snowy day on the fat bike. I did a quick loop jumped in the car and headed home. I had to leave the next day unfortunately, really wish i could have spent a week up there.
other than that I made it out to silver lake park in kenosha a few times when the trails were open but a majority of my rides have been on the Millennium Trail behind my house which starts in Round Lake at the fairfield disc golf course and ends down in Lakewood Forest Preserve or somewhere out that way :). I really enjoy it and when it snows I will take my fat bike up to the golf course and follow the fairways for some fun riding making fresh tracks. There is also a small nature trail about a mile long that weaves around the retention ponds and makes for a good snow ride as well. When its not snowing the path starts out paved behind my house and then turns to limestone and and crosses through some subdivision and open fields making for some nice riding. I can get a nice 25 mile out and back type ride in or make a 40 mile loop depending on my day. Its fun and no two rides have ever been the same on it due to the wonders of the midwest weather patterns. Like I said before I think you need to ride in all types of weather to become a better cyclist and this kind of riding cannot be replicated on a trainer. it build character but also makes you feel more whole. there is something about being out in the elements that effects the primal part of your brain. Everything around us now seems controlled we dont get to experience the wonders of nature from the seat of our car or office cubicle. Having a deer jump out and run with you for a few 100 yds on a night ride or seeing a bird of prey snatch up its dinner feet in front of you helps ground me and make me respect that we are not alone here on this planet. Not sure where I was trying to go with this but I can end it by saying that some of my best rides have been in the most miserable conditions and I will continue pedaling forward for as long as my legs will let me. I will supplement with the trainer only to maintain fitness when I cant get out only out of neccisity.