Mud, mud, mud with added mud

Winter 2015/16.

I don't think it is the worst winter we've ever had for mud. Can remember quite a few that match it. What it seems to be is one of the most stormy, consistently rainy ones. I've not been on a night ride for a good four months. Not because of family commitments, but because of the rain. There's no issue with going out in the rain during the day; just get on the bike and go. Nights and rain? Tried it, didn't work. The issue being cleaning the bike before putting it away. Mine lives indoors you see.

Anyway, the mud. Coincided with my fat bike being completed. Got to use that! It is not the best bike for mud work. Indeed it is the worst bike I own. Yet being the newest, and most fun bike, it is the one that gets picked each and every time. Rides now seem to consist of short struggles for traction. 20 miles is tough through deep mud on one of these. I don't mind. I'm not focused on distance, more on the experience.

Sunday a prime example of fat bike fun. On a normal bike I'd be the grey man, indistinguishable from all the other cyclists. On the fat bike? "Cor, look at those tyres!" Did spot some other evidence of other fatties out and about; big tyre tracks. Indeed at one point coming towards me was a Specialized Fatboy. He had that look. If you ride a fat bike you'll know it. It's the one where you see somebody clock your bike, yet you don't want to speak about it, so you pretend not to see them. I was not having any of that; shouted out "Proper bike!" to him. Caused him to look. Took him some time to clock what I was riding, which drew out a wry smile. Naturally I then rode off instantly.

Nightmare drops.

There are a few drops over near Headley way that are normally attacked at speed. Some are hardly noticeable. On Sunday with a low sun even small, 10cm drops looked like yawning chasms. With the way the storms have been rolling in they could well have been. Naturally I minced down one or two before mentally pulling myself together. They could all have been rolled, yet there I'd been, stopping and looking like a newbie. From then on things were much nicer.


When I started this game, 25 years ago, you took a water bottle and that was it. 500ml would have to last all day. It generally did. You'd get home 6 hours later and it would be half full. Then bladders came on to the scene. Bladders meant rucksacks. For a good fifteen years or so I took 3 litres of water, enough tools to run a bike shop, spares to last me ten years, and clothing good enough to survive a night sleeping in a bush. Must have been 6kg worth of stuff, all largely pointless.

Now I've gone back to the origins. Yesterday just a water bottle, pump and puncture repair kit, plus a spare dry base layer. Need to eat or drink? Buy stuff. Out for three hours, came back with my water bottle half full. You just don't need all that shit all the time.

The fat bike.

It's an oddity really. In isolation, out on your own, you do not notice the mass, the relative slowness or even the lack of grip. It is what it is. So on my solo rides it is great. Indeed out with other fat bike riders it is still great. Go out with your mates on their normal bikes, and all of a sudden you are slowing them up massively. They are fun in their own way, yet I recognize that in certain situations you really need to take out a thinny.