The abominable snowdog

Fat guy, fat tires, fat city. Photo: Herself

Fat guy, fat tires, fat city. Photo: Herself

I’ve never liked gyms, and I despise the stationary trainer. Back when I was still a man, instead of whatever it is that I am now, I would go for a run when the weather got sideways, but creeping decrepitude seems to have written finis to that sordid chapter in my exercise history.

So what’s a fat bastard to do in January?

Ride his old mountain bike in the snow, that’s what.

After moving a little of the white stuff around this morning I decided it wasn’t all that cold out — 20-something, but not a really nasty 20-something — so I aired up the tires on the old DBR ti’ to about 20 psi, tugged on a shitload of winter kit, and got busy.

And y’know what? It was big fun. I’d forgotten how much I like riding in the snow.

With the Hutchinson Python 26×2.0s at low pressure there was plenty of traction, and conditions weren’t wet enough to freeze up that old eight-speed XT drivetrain, though they were cold enough to freeze my water bottle.

The only bad part was the start, heading north without a balaclava into what proved a pretty stiff wind.

Happily, I had brought a bandanna along and that did the trick, even if it made me look like a Canadian terrorist out to attack the fascist maple-syrup cartel.

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34 Responses to “The abominable snowdog”

  1. Patrick O'Brien Says:

    That is a nice looking bike. Can’t identify the wheels, but it looks like it has a nice old elastomer damped Rock Shox fork. I like the simplicity of those old forks. These air/oil forks are light weight but sure are more complicated than most riders need.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Patrick, the bike is a mid-1990s DBR Axis TT, and surprisingly most of the drivetrain is the original eight-speed XT; the bike still has its original AC crankset, too.

      Everything else has been upgraded: Mavic tubeless-ready wheels (I use ’em with tubes); XT V-brakes replaced the old cantis, and Hippie Tech built me that nifty Judy fork (the original was a Manitou elastomer job, which I may still have).

      Shifters are a combination of old Sachs twist-grip (left) and SRAM (right). Other bits include Avid brake levers (I think); Easton bar; Time ATAC pedals; USE suspension post; and Selle Italia Flite saddle.

    • Derek Lenahan Says:

      You mean elastomer sprung forks at least until the elastomers imploded, I don’t remember much damping going on. Judging from the top caps I would say that this critter is a coil sprung generation Judy. Especially if it came from Hippie Tech. I couldn’t see Jerry sending out much rubber bumper stuff.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        I ‘member all the boing went out of that Manitou 4 on a brisk day like today (7 degrees). Presto, one heavy, rigid fork, coming up!

      • Derek Lenahan Says:

        It is the most fun when they compress fully and then stay there. Manitou had a rear suspension design that was basically the fork reversed. They hadn’t figured out the difference in load forces yet and the things would turn the elastomers into so much rubber shrapnel inside the seat stays every run. Then you would have to use special little tools made from spokes welded together to dig all the wee bits out before reloading the chamber for the next run. Every time I start to complain about some of today’s designs I think about that era and feel better. I did just pass a Judy from that era on to a friend though. Four or five new sets of bushings and an unknown number of rebuilds on the Englund Air Cartridges later still works. A coil sprung should last approximately forever.

  2. khal spencer Says:

    Nice. Last time I took my road bike out in snow I froze the cassette and it wouldn’t freewheel. Fixie, anyone?

  3. Charley Auer Says:

    You the man!



  4. David R Says:

    There are about a million things that are just plain wrong with that photo. My balls instantaneously retreated into my bodily cavity just looking at it. Are you mad?! [He says from a sunny 71 degree SoCal day, and having never ridden in snow…]

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Aw, it’s not that bad, David. There being comparatively little snow, I should’ve ridden a ‘cross bike for Manly Points. But after an expensive ‘cross-bike digger in the winter of 2009 I’m a little more judicious about which bike, if any, I pull out of the garage on a day like today.

  5. veloben Says:

    Damn. Now I’m inspired. Gonna haul the touring bike (no MTB) up from the warm basement and go for a ride tomorrow. If I go down wind that should keep the temp to about 25 below.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      You win the Internets, Ben. Coldest I ever raced was around 14 above at ‘cross nationals in Golden back in 1992. I got outside in below-zero temps while we lived near Weirdcliffe, but only to fetch more wood for the stove.

  6. Patrick O'Brien Says:

    One thing is guaranteed, I won’t be attending the football game in Green Bay tomorrow afternoon.

  7. md anderson Says:

    See, now that just looks miserable to me. Would rather do 2 hours on the trainer (and I have done it on more than one occasion) than bundle up and pedal around in that shit. My longest trainer ride so far this winter has been 90 minutes. And we’ve been relatvely mild the past couple weeks.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      It’s more fun with company, MD, but I couldn’t find anyone stupid enough to ride with me. You have to remember I raced cyclo-cross for about 15 years, so my idea of a good time is more than a bubble off plumb.

    • md anderson Says:

      Oh I’ve done my share of frigid riding. and since I’ve BTDT I no longer feel the need to prove that I can. At least here in NM it’s pretty easy to wait out the cold weather. Today isn’t expected to get above freezing, but it’ll be mid 40s by Tuesday.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        For me, it’s about half wanting exercise and half wanting to get the hell out of the house. One of the biggest drawbacks to working from home is that the view so rarely changes.

  8. Larry T. Says:

    This kind of stupidity for me is one of those “is this WORSE than riding the trainer for an hour, or not?” questions. Next week when we return from sunny SoCal I’ll no doubt have to answer it. There are carbide-studded tires on-hand just in case the answer is no.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      The fun part is seeing all those “look at that eejit” expressions on people’s faces. It’s the reasoning behind my entire professional career. Riches and fame ain’t enough. I need that look.

      • Jim in Coalville Says:

        Patrick, you might want to get in touch with your neighbors at Borealis Bikes and try out one of their rigs (I’d love to hear your thoughts). Pretty fam dancy. I’ve been riding a Surly Moonlander that my TX bound son gifted to me. Loads of fun in the snow & ice… and the pig weighs in around 40 lbs so I get a workout in as well.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Jim, the guys at Angletech let me play with a Salsa Mukluk some time back, and I thought it was loads of laughs. Those big ol’ boys actually move pretty well once you get ’em rolling.

        Thing is, here we rarely get anything approximating an actual winter anymore, and a guy can ride a cyclo-cross bike pretty much anywhere even in the worst of it. So I can’t justify the expense of a fatbike … to Herself, anyway. She’s small but fierce.

  9. Debby in Longtucky Says:

    I saw a lot of people riding around Boulder County on New Year’s Day. I wasn’t one of them! I seem to have an aversion to cold in my old age. My workouts for this weekend consist of shoveling snow. I had a session yesterday and will be going out in a bit to get another workout. Some fun.

  10. john Says:

    Ah, that can be fun. But back here in the Mysterious East, where the roads are as heavily salted as the beef in Admiral Nelson’s hold, you have to meticulously clean off the drivetrain every time you ride in that stuff, because if it stays on the chain you find a solid block of rust when you return. No fooling.

    Miles of beautifully groomed skate-ski trails beckon. It’s all gonna disappear under freezing rain tonight, so off I go.

    • Larry T. Says:

      Snow is what I’m hoping for – as long as it’s enough to XC ski on, though my horrible technique is no doubt even worse having escaped the past few winters living in Sicily. We’re back on the frozen plains (weather permitting airlines to fly that is) on Tuesday.
      Happy New Year to all!

      • john Says:

        The technique is really endless.

        I have the good fortune, or perhaps misfortune, of living in a winter sports mecca, where I can watch fabulously accomplished skiers of all ages go flying by with little apparent effort as I huff and puff due to largely to my mediocre technique. But there’s progress. A few years back I was fall-down-laughing terrible – now I’m just mediocre!

  11. bromasi Says:

    I’ll just ride the trainer today until the lower parts go numb the only fun I will have is massaging those parts

  12. James Says:

    Rode Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday here in SacTown, Cali. Not a sight of wet weather – driest December ever in 2013, YIKES! – anywhere to be seen. I did get a few “Love that jersey” comments today as I was sporting the Old Guys Who Get Fat In Winter (yellow) jersey. One poor guy even asked if it is a ‘real’ team.

    Sadly, since I am trying to not be too sarcastic anymore, I had to reply “nope, no it is not!” Interesting that it is the ONLY jersey I have that gets any comments.

    Keep riding Patrick. Winter will be over before you know it.

  13. bromasi Says:

    I love my “Old Guys Who Get Fat In Winter (yellow) jersey” but I’m getting to need a size bigger.

    • Patrick O'Brien Says:

      My OGWGFIWRT jersey is getting old too. I save it for special rides. Patrick, can’t you talk Voler into making another batch?

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