Marrakesh Polar Express

I was using the other hand to punch the snotsicles out of my beard.

I was using the other hand to punch the snotsicles out of my beard.

Heated fenders. Has anyone invented heated fenders yet?

Heated fenders. Has anyone invented heated fenders yet?

The first ride on the Salsa Marrakesh is in the books. You may be amused to recall that Marrakesh is in the Kingdom of Morocco, where the average temperature would have the devil pitching a bitch and snow pops round about as often as democracy.

There is a “ski town” about 45 miles south of Marrakesh, in the Atlas Mountains. I’ve been saving all my money to take you there.* But its chairlift is a donkey and I hear the Mexican food sucks.

* Well, Graham Nash has, anyway.

25 Responses to “Marrakesh Polar Express”

  1. David Rees Says:

    No no no… bicycles were NEVER intended to be ridden on snow, not even in sight of snow, because that means it’s cold and you will die out there for something so slack as a flat tire. Nothing was ever intended to be ridden, driven or trod upon on snow. Except skiis – maybe – but that was just because someone had to get into town and back to get more wine.

    • Pat O'Brien Says:

      I agree. I assume Patrick is only doing this to put kibble in Boo’s bowl, and he is upping his bike review game to show another young whippersnapper writer that there are two tough guys in the employ of a certain magazine.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I love riding on snow. Most of my (very few) victories in cyclo-cross were in snowy races. If you get enough of it, it doesn’t hurt much when you fall down.

      Back In the Day® my teammates and I would break out the mountain bikes on snowy days, bundle up, drop the PSI, and go trundling around on low-traffic streets or trails. So I can understand the growing popularity of the fat bike in areas where they actually get real weather.

      Sometimes Herself and I would ski the streets after a big dumper, or take the skis over to Bon Park and do laps in the grass. Up Weirdcliffe way we’d ski or snowshoe.

      But yeah, Pat is on the nosey here — mostly I did it for The Craft; The Readers. Y’know, youse guys. You ain’t learnin’, you got nothin’ to write about.

  2. Pat O'Brien Says:

    The Snow Dog abides.

  3. khal spencer Says:

    I rode to the co-op on the Long Haul Trucker on Christmas Eve. That bike is shod with Vittoria 26-1.75 Randonneur Cross tires. They were OK for some snow, but on the Canyon Rim Trail, I ran into a lot of 3-5 inches of snow covered rough ice where people had walked, so the stuff was crusty and unever. Riding it like sand was OK for the most part, except one curve where I decided the better part of valor was a dismount as my front wheel washed out.

    I have some vintage 26-2.0 Richey Speedmax Cross (or whatever they are called) fast folding tires somewhere. They have a thick file tread and nice side lugs. Can’t find them any more. They might get tossed back on rims today, as we got about 5 or 6 more inches overnight. Or, I’ll go back up to Pajarito Mountain in the rice burner and break out the XC skis again. Its really nice up there right now. Plus, skiiing is in the trees, and the wind is howling right now.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I haven’t really found a good all-around winter tire. The Maxxis Ardent (29×2.4) was good in mixed conditions here on Christmas, and I found the Hutchinson Python (26×2.0) serviceable on snowy rides back in Bibleburg.

      I think that basically you want a high-volume tire with widely spaced lugs to shed snow instead of collecting it.

      This weather keeps up, I’m gonna have to do some research.

  4. khal spencer Says:

    More appropriate song for this morning.

  5. weaksides Says:

    I agree with Patrick that riding in the snow is fun. Although khal makes a point with an ice/snow mix, something all too common here in the NC. I still say a fixed gear with some good touring type tires is a good tool for the conditions though.

    Now about that Brooks on the Marrakesh. If it’s not comfortable, try to tilt it back just a tad. A small amount of nose up is the way to ride a Brooks (says the guy with 4 bikes with Brooks saddles).

    Oh yeah, and despite a bunch of rain last week, we’re currently enjoying sun and 70 degree temps. 55 yesterday and perhaps close to that again today. Y’all enjoy your winter!

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Yep, Weaksides, I need to adjust that saddle a tad; I have the proper tilt on the Traitor Wander’s B-17. Alas, I was in a hurry to get outdoors before the weather got any worse (which it did) and as a consequence I was sliding back and forth on that Brooks like a stripper working the pole.

  6. Larry T. Says:

    I’ve had all I want of riding bikes on snow. Still have some carbide-studded knobbies for MTB’s somewhere, but they should go on fleabay as I’ll never mount ’em up again. Haven’t been on skis in years either, though both fooling around and racing XC models are hanging on the shop wall. Fat bikes? Another “something to buy” for the bike industry to promote…had a guy a few weeks ago lecture me on the virtues of “plus size” whatever that is…all I could think of was overweight women at the shopping mall!

    • khal spencer Says:

      “something to buy”

      Word, Larry.

    • Pat O'Brien Says:

      Fat tires seem to be the rage. I can see it to a point. I was down at my LBS yesterday, and there were new C’dale and Trek mountain bikes on the floor with 27.5 x 2.5 inch tires as OEM. You see touring bikes factory equipped with 700×38 tires standard.
      Pulled a back muscle Xmas morning, but the sumbitch really acted up this morning. Looks like Aleve and a heating pad for me for the next few days.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Jeff Jones is big on big tires, and they definitely have their place, especially if you ride a rigid bike.

      I’ve been going to bigger rubber on everything — from 23s to 35s and up on the road, to 35s and up on ‘cross bikes, and to 2.4 on the Jones.

      I’m not quite sold on fat bikes yet. But if someone gave me one, I’d ride it. Hell, I’d ride it today, right now.

      Pat, I feel your pain. I pretty much ruined myself clearing out the Bibleburg house. I think it started out with a tweaked left leg, which led my rotting carcass to draft a few slacker back muscles as compensation, and now my hips are askew, which tilts the whole pile into a sketch by M.C. Escher with an assist from the Marquis de Sade.

      • JD Dallager Says:

        Geesh, PO’G: I believe your physical maladies are called “the slippery slope” in business schools; military strategy; ethics classes; philosophy discussions; political musings, etc. Or is it “the domino effect” in all the above?

        Maybe…or perhaps the Circle of Life. Gravity always wins! 🙂

      • khal spencer Says:

        Wider rubber is certainly good on rough singletrack or sand, which we have up here and if I didn’t already have a decent mountain bike, would get one with clearance for wider rubber but not one of those things that looks like a rolling pair of donuts. I currently see no reason to blow a bunch of dead presidents and toss my perfectly good 2005 Stumpjumper in the nearby dumpster. It is still better than I am on trails. Plus, as I get older, I take fewer chances. Stuff I used to clean a decade ago I will often dismount. Especially after one crash where I slid a front wheel into a historical wagon rut and landed, arm first, on Mr. Bandelier Tuff. Thought at first I had broken an arm, but it was just a very deep bruise. I’d rather walk a pitch than trade the bike for a wheelchair.

        To some degree, I see all this stuff as technology looking for a way to solve a minute problem and make some money. Sort of the “here is the answer, now what was the question”.

        I went to 25c a while ago on the road bikes. 28 barely fits on my CAAD5 and have not tried it on the SixThirteen. Wide rubber (35 or bigger) capability seems a good idea on a cross or touring bike; I just put 26-2.0 on the LHT again. Its nice to to fast with fast rubber, but I like a bike like the Trucker or the Salsa LaCruz that allows options.

        Get well, PO’B.

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        Thanks Khal; I’m a little better today. It’s cold down here, for us anyway, so I’m not missing any riding. I replaced the 25s with 28s on the Soma ES a few months ago, and I wish I had done it sooner. The Saga will go from 700×32 to 700×35 on the next tire change. 2.1 on the Niner; it only has room for 2.3 maximum.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        JD, the back issues stem from a college beer-money gig, delivering washers, dryers, ranges and refrigerators. I got the top end of the hand truck once and it ended badly.

        Regular chiropractic care has kept me more or less in order, but occasionally something goes ping and I’m left with a slightly rotated pelvis, one leg shorter than the other, and a metric shit-ton of pain.

        Alas, cancer did for my chiropractor and I haven’t found another. Before departing this vale of tears she recommended taking up yoga and I may have to finally pay attention.

  7. psobrien Says:

    Good morning from the rocker equipped with a heating pad. Noticed in the concert video that the bass player is the late Donald “Duck” Dunn. Donald and Steve Cropper were on more albums, as session musicians, than we can count. One of the greats he was.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      For real. A lot of folks probably never heard of ’em until Belushi and Aykroyd did the “Blues Brothers” bit with them, “Blue” Lou Marini and horn player Alan “Mr. Fabulous” Rubin.

  8. Lost in the Gorge Says:

    Riding in the snow, over a paw-padded mushing trail, on a crisp clear far-north evening, perhaps under a full moon is a delightfully meditative experience. Tire studs are not necessary because the temps are well below freezing and the snow on the trail is dry. Even a Fat Tire bike is not really necessary, because many years back, a wise Northman well-trodden in bicycle repair-dom, developed a wide rim (Snowcats) that would allow a standard 26″ tire to spread out on the snow and give more flotation. Any MTB could then proceed along on a snowy trail…… Praise be to that wisen-ed Rakower !

    But if you need to keep your toes warm Mr. O’Grady, I have a pair of plastic shell snowboard boots that I modified with clipless pedal cleats that I can lend you for those chilly Alba-quirky days. They work quite well. Unfortunately for me now, I reside within the temperature transition zone and the days of true frozen snow are inconveniently infrequent…..

    Cheers to Winter & Good Cheers to all !


    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Thanks, Shawn. I usually rock the full booties on a frosty ride like that one, but thought I could get by with toe covers, Wrong.

      I also have some new Shimano XM-7s that keep my toesies toasty,. even with some really ratty wool socks. I get me some new socks, those bad boys will be the shiznit.

  9. Steve O Says:

    Just FYI … Big hit at our house this weekend:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: