The Next Fad is Here

That’s right I called it.  The next big fad in cycling after single speeds is going to be FAT BIKES.  I feel bad saying that as it will probably ruin it, as everything that catches on seems to get ruined by those trying to cash in.

The point of this post isn’t to lay claim to naming the next fad, but to help explain why I’m joining that fad.  The first and obvious question I get is, why and secondly, where are you going to use a Fat Bike?  Those who know me locally, might have noticed I haven’t raced at all except for the Test of Metal and the Tour of the Unattached since the USGP last year in PDX.  The first being a must do classic, if you live in the area, and the later had a sense of adventure to it.  My focus is no longer to beat this guy or that guy, it’s to beat myself, self made limitations or the elements.  I want to push my limits, go places I haven’t been, I want to say “what the hell was I thinking!” half way into some crazy epic ride, ride trails I don’t know about and I’ll probably do some of them on a Fat Bike.

My new Pugsley!

The idea of keeping up with the Jones, as they say, appalls me.  I used to do it and sometimes willingly.  I don’t want, or feel the need to have two cross bikes or even pit wheels.   You won’t find a structured training schedule or a calendar full of races on my refrigerator.  You can’t see what isn’t there!  The fire to race week in and week out is gone.  It consumed me, my wallet, and time for so long; but, those days are over.  If you could see what is there inside me, you’d see a new fire to go further, higher, see more and explore.  I want to cross mountain ranges not finish lines.  The narrowing blinders that kept me focused on racing are off.  Instead of limiting myself I’m going big, or in this case fat.

I can’t really explain why I want a Fat Bike any better than I can explain to a non-hiker why I walked from Mexico to Canada.  My new Fat Bike is just the first step towards something bigger.  The next step after the Fat Bike is to get a Alpacka Pack Raft. Then I’ll combine the two and do some bike rafting like this guys.

Photo from Steve Fassbinder

Check out these blogs for more bike rafting and packing.  The Republic of DoomBig Wheel Building, or The Roaming Dials.  These guys define the word epic.  I’m epic in my own way, but someday I’ll be epic like them.

The idea of combining my two loves, hiking and biking (and the dream of paddling) seems like the right thing to do.  Bikepacking or bike rafting allows one to cross barriers that a typical bike can’t.  When I drive 2+ hours to a ride, I always feel like I want to stay the night and camp.  It doesn’t seem worth it to just spend all that time in the car for so little outside enjoying nature.  I enjoy the planning and preparation that goes into a big trip as much as the trip itself.  The sense of really getting out there moves me.  I’m motivated by the concept of being out of touch, vulnerable to the elements, animals, and nature itself.  There is also the simplicity of it.  To think one can carry everything they need on their bike and travel huge distances is, in a way, romantic to me.

When I go to the bar and all I hear is my friends talking about racing and the newest part they got, I want to scream.  I feel like the only non-cyclist girlfriend in a room of cyclist, who prays the conversation will be anything but bike talk again.   I want to shake them and wake them up.  The reality is they don’t want to wake up just like I didn’t when I was into racing.  I need to accept that and do my own thing.  As a good friend told me, “Craig your center has shifted.”  It was hard to accept and I fought it for a long time.  Now that I gave into this new shift of my center, a whole new world of adventure has been opened to me.

Don’t get me wrong I will still race my bike, but the races I’ll be doing will not be your average race.  I can’t do the “just for fun” thing like some many people tell me to do.  I want to laugh when someone tells me to “just race for fun”.  If they had any idea just how hard and fast the Cat. 2’s are, they would never utter those words because they would know it’s not possible to have fun in a Cat. 2 race if you’re out there to “just have fun”.   At least it not possible for me.   Paying money to line up and race means balls out going for it.  I can’t “just race for fun”.  Fun equals training, focus, and doing well to me.  Getting a single speed as everyone tells me  and racing for fun would mean training and racing hard, and doing well.  If I don’t do well, it’s not fun.  Just changing the bike or category I race in cross doesn’t change how I’ll approach it.

I might be calling the kettle black here as the races I want to do will require training and focus.  As I said my center has switched and I’m okay with not doing well in these races, as finishing them is going be hard enough.  I’m talking about races like the Tour Divide or the Colorado Trail Race, Arizona Trail Race or any other multi-day mountain bike race.  I can justify in my mind not winning or being in the top 10 or whatever position as I just want to push my limits and finish these races.  The Chinese proverb that says, “The journey is the reward.” doesn’t work for me as even though finishing will be incredible hard, it motivates me just as much as getting there.  In the process I will experience incredible landscapes, people, and trails to ride on.  I will also probably want to cry, throw my bike off a cliff or quit, but that’s what I want.  I want to attempt things I might not be able to finish.

When I raced my first ever Cascade Cream Puff , I was brought to a state of such physical and mental tiredness I couldn’t control my emotions.  As I sat on the cooler in the picture below, I had the overwhelming feeling that I was going to just start crying at any moment for no reason.  These feeling got me again when my buddy Drew pulled into the aid station and hugged me.  I have never felt that way before or since.  It made me feel alive!  I want to feel that way again.  An one hour cross race can’t do that so I’ll find events/adventures that can.  I love the idea of doing activities and events where mental toughness is more important than physical.

Me when I lost control of my emotions at the CCP

Yes, maybe I have a few loose screws or I’m just brunt out.  22 years will do that do that to you.  All I know and care about is making a change and getting a Fat Bike is part of that change.  I’m listening to the voices in my head, not the ones coming from the outside.  This might alienate me from a lot of friends but I have to do it for me.  I have one life and I’m going to fill it with my dreams and desires and not let society tell me what they should be.  What are you going to do with your one life?

Get out there!
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