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First 907 Fat Bike Ride - When In Doubt Go Higher!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Part 1: I Got my 907 Fat Bike

Finally, I was able to pick up my beautiful orange 907 fat bike last Thursday. Every 907 fat bike is a custom build.


Sitting near my fat bike was a small-framed black 907. The buyer of little black 907 had specified SRAM X7 shifters and derailers. The crank was a mid-level Race Face Evolve 36/24T. The bike had a nice white Bontrager saddle. The pretty fat bike was topped off- with a Bontrager Stem and Easton handlebars. Perched on the handlebars were the great XT brakes. The bike rolled on 45 North Husker Du tires with 27 treads per inch.

My brain had registered all this information from a single glance at the black 907. I had spent so much time researching and demoing fat bikes, I can read a "build" as quick as a cat. I think with time and much therapy, I can get over my bicycle component OCD!

The bike shop guys told me that a fellow that owned a rare polished frame 907 had ordered the little black fat bike for his wife. I thought that was cool. My wife has a nice mountain bike but refuses to ride with me. She says I ride too fast and go on dangerous trails.

I have no idea what she is talking about.

The bike tech wanted to make sure my 907 worked properly and adjust the "fit". I was pretty nervous as I climbed aboard my fat bike for the first ride. I had paid extra to get high-end components. When you buy a bike you can get components that are light, cheap or strong. But you can on get two of the three. My fat bike cost about the same as the gross domestic product of a small banana republic.

What if my 907 was not worth the money? The little black 907 was a nice bike and cost less to boot.

I sat on my gleaming orange 907 right outside the door of the Golden Bike Shop. I rolled down the sidewalk. Due to some parked cars, I had very little room to get to the street. Without thinking, I cut a quick "Z" turn in front of a parked car. The 907 responded perfectly! I made a couple of quick upshifts and the 907 surged forward like it was shot out of a cannon. I zipped around a corner and started up a steep hill. I purposely lugged the bike to see if how well the bike would shift under extreme pedal pressure.

I prepared for the acid test. Would my 907 shift from the big crank ring to the small crank ring while I was standing on the pedals in high gear going up a hill. Every fat bike I demoed would get stuck in the high ring and would not downshift under high pedal loading.

I hit the left shifter trigger. Immediately, without a sound, the bike downshifted! I ran the 907 through every gear. The bike shifted flawlessly! And it was FAST!

Part 2: Getting Ready

I spent Friday and Saturday getting ready for my first ride. I bought a Lezyne high-volume hand pump. Fat bike tires are so darn big that my high-pressure hand pump just would not work. I used this pump on my first ride. This pump was just great.

This pump works great. The biggest advantage of a fat bike is the ability to run a wide range of air pressure in the tires from 5 psi to 30 psi.

I also got a NXE Smartphone bag so I could use my GPS.

This bag mounts to the top tube and is very solid. This is a very high-quality bag. Even though this bag mounts up by the stem, I found it gets in the way when mounting or dismounting on very steep hills. I think the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

I then lost my mind and bought a monstrous Jandd seat pack. I previously talked to a guy that was an experienced fat biker. He said that heading up into the snowy wilderness requires a lot of extra stuff like dry clothes.

I bought a Jandd Mountain Wedge III Seat Pac. This thing was huge and required bungee straps running to the chainstays to stabilize the seat pac's mass. I got this bad boy at Evergreen Bicycle shop.

I am always willing to defer to someone's greater experience. I had foolishly wanted a Large Topeak Wedge DryBag that was plenty big enough for my tire pump, pressure gauge, first aid kit and food.

This pack mounts nicely to the seat and doesn't weigh much.

More on this later.

Part 3: First Ride - Where is the Snow?

Colorado is a sunny place. We have been getting modest amounts of snow. But due to temperatures in the 40s and 50s there are a lot of bare patches on trails under 9,000 feet of elevation.

Only one thing to do!

I bought this bumper sticker but have not put it on my car. With the passage of Proposition 64, which legalizes the recreational use of marijuana in Colorado, this sticker could have two meanings.

I can see Mount Evans from my house. At 14,265 feet, Mount Evans is covered with snow. I loaded my 907 on my bike rack and headed north.

This is my 907 fat bike all ready to go. The temperature is a near tropical 45 degrees F at my house.

I just hoped that there would be snow on Mount Evans. As I started up Squaw Pass on the way to Mount Evans I ran into a snow packed road. I was getting pretty stoked!

I snapped this shot just by holding my camera with my right hand and hitting the shutter button. Besides the rush hour traffic represented by one oncoming truck, the right side of the road is a cliff. I needed to keep my eyes on the slippery road as a whipped along at 22 mph.

I got to the parking lot at the base of Mount Evans at 3:30 in the afternoon. The temperature was a more comfortable 12 degrees F.

There was a group of snowshoers that came out of the woods just as I arrived. They wanted to know all about the fat bike. They thought the fat bike was cool but had never seen one. I was happy to talk to them.

As the snowshoers were getting ready to leave, I got my bike off the rack. I said my goodbyes, then deftly sped across the parking lot, over a snow berm, and flew into the forrest. Yup, I was showing off!

Here is my 907 on Echo Lake trail, which runs along the side of Mount Evans. Echo Lake Trail is steep, narrow, rocky and pasted on the side of a darn big mountain. In some places the side of the trail was nearly vertical. The trick is not look down! Firstly, your bike tends to go where you look. Secondly, I am not overly fond of heights.

Here is a shot of the back trail.

I put a red "X" on the photo to show you where I had been. This is a really pretty place.

Here is a shot of where I am going.

I put an red arrow to show where I am going. The trail makes a hard right and starts climbing. I had stopped to rest and catch my breath here. These shots were taken at 11,500 feet of elevation. 11,500 feet is considered to be the lower threshold of "Very High Altitude". Blood oxygen saturation is about 40% to 50% less at 11,500 feet than at sea level. But since I live at high altitude I am pretty well acclimated.

Part 4: The Descent - Trouble in Paradise

I tried to make it up to 12,000 feet but zonked out at 11,800. I started the descent. This was really fun. The 907 rails snowy curves. What I did not realize is the seat bag was flopping around with the cornering forces. All of a sudden I heard an ominous thwap! Evidently, the the seat bag stabilization straps had rubbed against the rear tire and snapped in two. One strap was wrapped around the rear hub. The other strap was wrapped around my cassette. The temperature had dropped to 1 degree. It was getting dark and I was stuck a long way from the car. Fortunately, I managed to get the straps untangled in about 10 minutes. However, in the cold, dark and howling wind, 10 minutes seems like a really long time.

After I freed my bike from the straps I cranked up the 907 to as fast as he would go. Oh, my that bike is fast!

Here is the 907 back at the car. There was just the faintest last glimmer of a pretty Rocky Mountain sunset. Dark means cold. I got off the mountain at the perfect time.

Given the debacle with my Jandd seatbag, I have since bought the smaller Topeak bag. The 907 is not a beast of burden. I could have bought a Salsa Mukluk if I wanted a luggage carrier. The 907 is too fast to be weighted down. I have learned my lesson.

Here is the lonesome drive home.

I didn't see another car until I hit the town of Evergreen. For just a little bit, I owned the whole mountain.

Thanks for reading my blog.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    That's our Bruce.... doing activities that he shouldn't because of some injury! But that's why we love you and your blogs :-) I am proud of your dedication.
    1900 days ago
    WooHoo! Sounds like you had a blast! I can see why that bumper sticker might be taken wrong LOl!
    2205 days ago
    Go guy go! You are doing what I blogged about today:
    Enjoy those wide, open spaces! Nature and exercise together is a great combination!!
    2209 days ago
    Total awesomeness! Thanks for taking us all along for the ride. We had a great day and got back just in time! You rock- long live Orange 907! emoticon emoticon
    2209 days ago
  • JACKIE542
    I am so glad you were able to get out on your bike and fine some snow. Love reading your blogs always a great adventure. Maybe someday we will have a blog with your wife along, I can wish.
    Have a restful evening and thank you. emoticon
    2209 days ago
  • NWFL59
    Your new 907 sounds like it performed as hoped. Too bad the bag proved to be unsatisfactory but still a lesson well learned and probably gratifying somewhat to see your initial choice probably is more compatible with your riding style and needs. Glad you had an enjoyable and 'safe' first go. emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    2209 days ago
    Wow! Snow tires on a bike. Now I understand what you're doing better.

    I have a brother who lives in Evergreen. Cool.
    2210 days ago
    Hobby? Dangerous Obsession? The differences are so small as to be meaningless. Enjoy your bike!
    2210 days ago
    Yes, I believe a lot of therapy will be required to get over the bicycle component OCD ;-)
    It may be a girl thing, but I'm afraid to ride with you myself.
    Go 907!!!
    2210 days ago
    AMAZING!!!! Great blog. Thanks for letting us ride along with you.
    2210 days ago
  • KA_JUN
    "I bought this bumper sticker but have not put it on my car. With the passage of Proposition 64, which legalizes the recreational use of marijuana in Colorado, this sticker could have two meanings. "

    ha, maybe you could write in white-out in the corner "in elevation!"

    great pics and blog, looks like you had a great ride! I would consider writing Jandd about your experiences, they might do something for you. Stinks when gear doesn't operate in the intended manner, especially when it's getting dark and cold.

    Cool to hear the interest you generated w/ the snowshoers, perhaps converting some to explore fat biking!

    It blows my mind to see how low you can keep the pressure on those tires and to read about the pump you had to pick up to be able to inflate them properly. Ride on!

    2210 days ago
    Love the bumper sticker. (From a hiker's point of perspective :))
    2210 days ago
    Of course you know this made me giggle -
    "I have no idea what she is talking about. "

    It's so good to hear you talk about your ride. I'm wondering if you've considered working with/for a bike shop upon retirement - and that's not a crack about your age, I'm not sure how old you are - but it sounds like this is such a passion for you that you have a chance at a 'second life' when it comes to bikes and building and riding.
    2210 days ago
    So jealous. :)
    2210 days ago
    You are amazing!! Love your OCD regarding fat bikes! Sure, you know nothing about that going too fast thing and dangerous trails that your wife mentioned. I have a feeling I'd admire your riding, but be in her corner. So glad you could get those straps unwound and get down out of the cold and back to civilization safely. It is just great that you enjoy the fresh air-nature-snow-trees-sky-rocks and all!! Keep riding and Sparking!! -Marsha
    2210 days ago
    Sounds like a fantastic day! Your bike is gorgeous! And, from your blogs, I think I agree with your wife :P However, if you're having fun and only (minorly) battle-scarred, it must be worth it!

    Happy riding!
    2210 days ago
    Congrats on your new bike. And thanks for the blog. A very enjoyable read.
    2210 days ago
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