There’s no FinSnow. This was recounted to me by a pal who is flying to the Italian Alps at Christmas for a weeks skiing*. I’m sharing some of her pain, with my inner eleven year old pining for a dump of the white stuff somewhere more local.
Two reasons; firstly the stupidbike(tm) is clearly going to be an impossible to calculate brilliant once frozen rain covers the ground, and secondly as another month of slogging through Gloucestershire’s finest Flanders Experience is likely to leave me seriously considering indoor hobbies.
Snow isn’t the seasonal norm it was in my youth. Sure that was back in the Cambrian age, but Boxing Day walks often morphed into desperate shovelling rescues of smaller children lost in four foot snowdrifts.
Back in the here and now I saw a man – not obviously searching for all his marbles – cheerfully shopping for seasonal gifts in an ensemble of shorts and a t-shirt. It was time to push these childish memories aside and instead spend the kids Christmas money on pointless bike stuff.
Firstly a tyre not stamped with summer. The Dune turned up with rotating rubber perfectly configured for hardback and dust. Show them some mud and they responded magnificently by storing this frictionless material between sparsely hosted knobs** before sending you on your way into something both stoutly vertical and bone crushing.
I bought a fat rear*** which improved things down the back no end. Traction amusement as my thin tyred riding friends slithered about with absolutely no chance of success, while those of us engaging ‘Fat Drive‘ just made it so. Mostly with a fist pump nobody noticed and occasionally a failure we’re not going to talk about here.
An additional purchase was justified on the grounds that one trail much returned too was marked by a facsimile of my forehead. Three times we’d ridden it, three times I’d crashed on the steeper section- shoulder charging an apex with more crossed up action than a weekend transvestite.
Not today. My additional purchase begat significantly additional purchase on the slimey dirt. Much of which was pebble dashing me as the paddle steamer rotation of four inch tyres mined deep into the Forest mud.
Again I’d responded to the prevailing ground conditions with Internet snake oil. A front mudguard offering borderline efficacy but with a rather more irritating stand out characteristic. Being lowest-cost-bidder flexy plastic, it genuflected to the front tyre on encountering the smallest bump. I was basically ‘travelling with woodpecker‘ as the bloody thing beat itself to death at irregular intervals.
The rear was stolen from a time long past and best resembled a too small toupee for a too bald head. It added a bit of weight, significant comedic merit but little in the way of mitigating the dirty protest splattered from shorts to helmet.
Riding when conditions are quite this shitty can be summed up by ‘a bit more grip than expected, quite a lot less than required‘. Even with barely inflated trail crushing tyres, much of the steering was more hydrophobic than biomechanical. Grip’d turn up for about as much time to begin to trust it, before whipping away the tablecloth of traction leaving us feasting on moist earth.
Fun of course especially with unseasonal temperatures. The forecast promised much but delivered only wind blown showers. The trails – of which I’d been bitching about three weeks ago – were epically muddy. I’d like to give my three week younger self a damn good slap on the grounds of not appreciating how good it actually was.
Five of us out, a total of eight working knees – one of which was mine while the other has succumbed to ‘patella tendonitis . The Physio suggests I leave it at least a week before riding – good advice I cheerfully ignored because – hey – when it’s this damn good why wouldn’t you ride every day?****
I’ve no idea if the StupidBike is any good really. I don’t know how it goes round corners but I fully understand how it slides sideways. It’s a bit of a drag uphill, but amusingly competent the other way once your belief of tyre grip has been recalibrated.
It’s getting me out. It’s a stalwart to the grumpy individual who makes excuses not to ride. It’s making my riding pals laugh a lot. It has me giggling.
But we’re just fighting the phony war right now. Bring me that bloody snow.
*more accurately drinking ruinously expensive coffee while watching artificial snow melt as quickly as it can be made.
**Oh God where to start. Okay, I was in London last week and it was like that. Except for the sparse bit.
***Insert your own joke here. But be kind. I’m been really busy. Not had time to ride much. Anyway it’s not fat, it’s just big boned. I think of it as my personal eclipse.
****Because you can’t. As you’ve been sectioned under the mental health act.