Big group ride up over Hatcher pass and down to Meadow Lakes yesterday. Last year's iteration of this ride saw more than a foot of snow on the ground, this years, barely any. It also saw me making a hasty retreat with frozen toes before even making it to the parking lot at Independence mine. This year saw 14 riders, 12 fat bikes, 11 bikes with fat tires, two different fat tire tread patterns, @60 miles, over a pass, beer, bar-b-que and good company.
I set my alarm for 5am in order to get myself and the Karate monkey shod and ready for the ride, after spending most of Friday breaking a sewing machine. Got up at 4:59, before the alarm, and was then woken at 8:11 by a phone call from Mark, of Wildfire cycles, offering me a lift to the 10AM start. So it was a speedy shower, breakfast, try to find clean riding clothes appropriate for the weather, and through the only completely assembled bike I have (the SSStump) in the back of the truck and try not to forget anything important...
We barely made it to the parking lot before the group took off. Quickly got the bikes together, restaged the group start photos, and took off, immediately hitting a steep, 2 mile climb in the cold alpine air. That one hurt the lungs a bit, and while the SSStump is, in fact, a girlie multi-speed contraption, it's easiest gear is a 32f x 24r, so I was soon walking at about the same pace people were riding
It was refreshing to see a variety of fat tire tread patterns in the snow.
colorful fat bikes
From the top of the pass, it was an incredibly fun ripper of a downhill. @3600' of elevation lost. Perfect trail conditions, frozen and fast without a hint of ice.
The group was dramatically reduced in size after the bar, and the rest of the ride was on bike path. My thighs were starting to burn by the time we got there, 30 or so miles in. The bacon cheeseburger and beer didn't help that as much as I though they would.
just your everyday team of huskies pulling a four wheeler down the bike path....
About ten miles from the Frank's cabin(the finish), we rounded a bend into a direct Matanuska head wind, laced with airborne glacial silt. My burning thighs became cramping thighs, and the SSStump was relegated to the wussiest two of it's 4 working gears. It was during this stretch that I also really began to regret forgetting to apply some shammy butter... We soldiered on through it though, and were rewarded with a feast of chili, brats, baked goods, beer, coffee and a warm cabin, all courtesy of our hosts and friends.
The finishers: beer, bar-b-que and excellent hospitality were the reward.