Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Sunday Fatbike River Adventure.

A few weeks ago I had a rather stupid idea.  We should try to ride a river with fatbikes.  Not next to river mind you, we all know that they work wonderful for that.  The idea would be to make our way down river, in the river.  I should say that I have rather dumb ideas all the time.  I don't follow through on many of them.  This one was embraced by a few equally crazy friends, and a date was set for this weekend.

We planned on riding the local Cannon River south towards Red Wing, MN.  This river is fairly shallow at through this time of the summer.  Not knowing whether this would work well, or be a total disaster, we started just south of Cannon Falls.  The Cannon Valley Bike trail, (CVT,) follows the river fairly closely at this point.  It would provide a ready bail out point if the going was to hard.

The day could not have been better weather wise.  It was about 65 degrees out when we started, and the light was simply gorgeous.

The river was perfect.  The water was warm, and the scenery perfect.  Riding in a river certainly is a new skill set, and it took us a while to figure out exactly how to go about it.  This first part for the ride we tried to ride as much as possible, which kept us close to the banks.  It was hard going.  The bikes bogged down a lot in the silty mud at this point, and I for one was a bit discouraged.  At least it was pretty to look at.

It was time to take a break, eat some food, and decide whether we wanted to try and continue on.  We hopped back on the CVT and looked for a break spot.  We happened to come out of the water close to a tall grass prairie natural land area.  I have looked at this bit of land for years from the CVT, but never knew it was public land.  The sign at the gate said motorized vehicles were prohibited, so we smiled and rolled through it.

The grass was dry and warm, the beer was great, and the company was perfect.  We could have easily taken a nap on the spot, so we didn't dawdle too long.  I will certainly be coming back to this spot.  It's high on my list to explore further.

Back to the CVT for a bit, we were somewhat rudely passed by a pair of road bikers.  Not one to take this insult laying down, Josh decided we should put a chase on.  Let me tell you, a paceline of 4 fatbikes at 20 mph makes a heck of a noise!  With Josh in the lead we pretty quickly caught back up to the Lycra clad patheletes.  Needless to say they were surprised to see us!  We politely asked them the distance to Welch Village, and then rode right by.

Shortly afterwards we found an easy path down to the river and pealed off.  We spent a lot of the brunch break discussing techniques for riding, and what had worked and what didn't.  We had all relaxed a bit too, and were more keep to swim and float with the bikes on sections that riding proved to difficult.  What a change this attitude made!  This specifically began one of the most fun sections of a ride I've ever done.  Riding from shore to shore, through water completely covering Big Fat Larry's, floating on my back laying down on top of my bike... It was simply incredible.

This is a short video from the day.  I'm working on editing a real video with everything from the day soon.

Cannon River Ride from Milltown Cycles on Vimeo.

We road, swam, floated, and laughed our way down the river like this for a few hours.  Stopping at a big downed tree, we moored our bikes, and had a wonderful lunch.

Big Fat Larry's float really well, too well in fact.  The smaller tires were much easier to control.  At 190lbs, I had to fight to keep the BFL's on the "ground" in very deep water.  Nates would be an ideal tire for these excursions.

It's simply absurd to see bikes just floating on a river.  I'm still giddy just thinking about how fun it was.

This was simply one of the best days on a bike I've ever had.  My eyes are opened to a whole new possibility of rides and exploration.  I'll say that it will come with increased maintenance costs, but who cares.  It's totally worth it for what you're able to do and where you can go.  I can't wait to explore other rivers and watershed in the area!

Get out there and explore what's in your backyard.  You never know what you'll find, or how much fun you can have until you try!


coastkid said...

`Moored the bikes` ha ha! ace! -:)

Don`t worry about maintenance, pack any new sealed bearings until there full with grease and it oozes out as you press on the seals and they will be ok. Make sure your BB has a drain hole drilled in it and all should be fine,

Looking forward to a full movie -:)

Ben Witt said...

You've got it. This particular bike has been ridden as a demo for 2 seasons. It had some serious work coming anyway. Bearings are now full to the gills, and cables are fresh and lubricated.

A nice thing about Mukluks is that with all those rack mounting holes, they drain river water extremely well! There was only the faintest amount of water in the shell when I took the BB out. The BB itself is getting pretty shot, but it'll roll for a while yet.