I’m half-fat with a 26 x 3.7″ Surly Larry tire up front and a 29 x 2.35 Schwalbe Big Apple in the rear. A 29 inch wheel is a great way to optimize a fatbike for summer singletrack, touring, or pavement. Half-fat is my half-baked idea of a bike that can go anywhere, but doesn’t ride like a tank. Half-fat: not half bad.
The simple and cheap option to refit a fatbike for general use is to select a high volume 26″ tire such as the Maxxis Hookworm 2.5 or Holy Roller 2.4; Schwalbe Big Apple or Fat Frank 2.35; and a host of other 2.3-2.4″ tires from WTB, Specialized, Kenda, and others. These tires mount nicely to a 65mm rim such as the Large Marge, but may be unworkable on anything wider. While the bottom bracket of the Pugsley is lowered over an inch, the height measures about the same as the Surly Long Haul Trucker and pedal strike is not a serious concern when cornering. For less than a hundred bucks, the bike is transformed with a fast rolling, durable, all around tire. The Maxxis Holy Roller 26 x 2.4 does the job on Lael’s Pugsley. Baby fat. Holy roller.
The bike is moving in the right direction. I’ve swapped the 8sp 11-32 cassette for a 9sp 12-36. A Deore SGS derailleur wraps the extra chain. The used 29×2.1 Nanoraptor tire has been replaced by a seriously voluminous and clean looking 29×2.35 Schwalbe Big Apple. This bike is becoming an exercise in extremes, but the first thing I plan to do with it is ride 2000 miles of pavement, which is more normal than extreme.
Three holes on the underside of the down tube and some Rivnuts secure a Salsa Anything Cage, which snugly fits between my cranks with the 100mm bottom bracket shell.
Open invitations all summer– I’m leaving in a week without a definite plan. The nearest thing to a plan even sounds too grandiose for me to swallow, or to share. Nonetheless, you’re all invited. I’m hoping to meet some of you this summer between Alaska, Alberta, Montana, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, California, and Viejo Mexico. In the next six months, I will be in most, but probably not all of those places. You are invited to suggest new routes. You are expected to offer a shower and a host in a faraway city; perhaps a cousin or college friend that lives amidst the spiny midcenter of the west. Most of all, you are invited to ride bikes with me for a time. I’ll be riding alone for a period, and Lael will be meeting me later this summer. My schedule is wide open so if you’ve got a schedule I can work around, I’ll make it happen. Want to bike the Canada or Montana portion of the Great Divide? How about the Colorado Trail in July or August? The Kokopelli Trail and assorted Moab area routes? The AZT? Baja on a fatbike? How about the Copper Canyon? Maybe you want to knock down some miles on the AlCan next week. The sign up sheet is here.
What are your summer touring plans?
Days more than twelve hours, especially when gaining daylight, are optimistic. The losing days of fall and winter with less than twelve hours create well-defined constraints. In Alaska, the sun is awake for 16 hours and we are gaining day. Now is the time to leave home. Now is the time to go. This is the touring season.
I leave in a week, although my bike as I’ve planned it is incomplete. My bags are not packed and I hardly know where I am going, but I know that being on a bike in a week is right. In usual fashion, I’m “putting the cart before the horse”. Decide, then describe. I make decisions based upon a whim or a whiff of curiosity. Later, I define the details. Decide to get on the bike, buy the plane ticket, or quit the job first– then, figure out the details as they become relevant.
May 1st marks the day that the snow is almost all gone, 16h 17m 12s of sunlight, and almost six months since arriving in Alaska. I am drooling over long summer days, and working indoors repairing bicycles for others isn’t really doing it for me. My experience on the Great Divide Route last summer has me looking for more. In a week, I’ll go looking.