In the Days Before Fat Bikes

Before there were fat bikes- people still did big snow rides in the winter, but they were from Wisconsin and they talked funny. So I’m not sure that it counts, because people from up there always do weird stuff in the winter.

Mr.Newman over at Dirt Rag posted this old video yesterday. Definitely worth watching, especially for the soft synthesizer interludes and synthetic fuzzy 1980s hats.

And this race is back for this coming season- Ididasport Alaska. If the course is the same, I wonder how the finish times will compare with people riding modern equipment.

On a related note, my nice pleasant bike path commute to Carbondale is going to be a little less pleasant this morning. There’s six inches of fresh snow on the trail, and it’s currently zero degrees. At least it’s a dry cold. I definitely need to invest in some real winter shoes- my Specialized Defrosters were fine in Pittsburgh, but aren’t quite cutting it here (and they’re a little too small).

45nrth stuff is pretty much out of stock for the season. Anybody have experience with Lake’s winter shoes?

4 thoughts on “In the Days Before Fat Bikes

  1. I raced Iditasport in the mid 90’s. We raced 26″ rigid with SnowCat rims. The current race is not the same course but your question about gear making for fast races is a good one. The old course record holder is John Stamstad. He was a machine who pounded everyone into the ground eating 2 packets of Gu and Saltine crackers every 70 miles. He road 26″ rigid on SnowCat rims. The extra tire on the modern Fat Bikes comes at a cost of increased rolling resistance. The lighter, faster guys like Stamstad could keep floating on top of the crusty snow with their Ti setups and then really open it up on the rivers. The original coarse had you leave the half way point at Skwentna and then ride onto the Yentna river for 70-80 miles back down to final check point before the finish. If the river was packed down from all the snow mobile traffic you could do 15 – 20 mph. Lastly the race leaders all knew that the time might come when Iditabike turned into Iditapush due to conditions. The modern fat bike would help offset that considerably.

    I have the older Lake winter shoes and they are solid. Get them larger for extra socks and heat packs. In Alaska we over-boot them or modify them to have extra insulation if you ride longer than an hour in temps below 10F.

    The 45Nrth and nice but they are bulky. They are warmer though.

    1. Sweet, really cool to hear from somebody that was in the original race. I guess it would depend a lot on conditions then- a modern fat bike would probably only be faster when the snow was too soft to ride a skinnier bike, and firm enough that you didn’t have to push (because pushing a fat bike certainly isn’t easy).

      I actually just bought some Lakes. Two sizes up, and happy feet for hours down to 0 (which seems to be about as cold as it gets here). So nice not to have numb feet for two hours every day.

  2. Interestingly the Krampus might be just the sleeper bike to split the difference between the need for a wider wheel and tire and the desire to roll more like a conventional MTB. If the conditions are ideal or lightly variable you would have a major advantage over the standard fat bike.

    I like Lake shoes. The 45Nrth felt very large and bulky. Part of that is break-in but also Lake’s been making winter MTB shoes since the 90’s.

    I’ve chosen Krampus over Pugs. I am getting a lot of flak over not getting a FatBack fat bike. I’m taking a chance but for the type of riding I do summer and winter I think it’s the ticket.

    1. That’s true, the krampus really does go faster in light snow or good conditions. I’ve been using mine for commuting on a packed snow path for just that reason- the Pigsley would make me late for work everyday.

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