Fat BikesLast December I decided to get into fat bikes. I saw the Surly Pugsley a few years ago when I went to Frostbike. So I have known about them for a few years, but never really considered buy or selling them. Then I started getting people asking about them. I'm not sure what all else factored into it but I decided to get some fat bikes that I could rent out and start building a fat bike community. Then I got this crazy idea of biking across Utah Lake for NewYear's Day.
Utah Lake freezes over most winters. When I was a kid I heard stories of people trying to ice skate across the lake, falling in and dying. Still for some reason I decided to bike across Utah Lake. The last week in December was cold. Nighttime temperatures were in the teens and the highs didn't get above freezing, so I assumed the lake was frozen but didn't really know. New Years day we headed out, and found the lake to be solid. We never drilled any holes, so I don't know how thick the ice was but there were no unfrozen cracks, and it plenty thick the whole way. Since then it has been even colder so the lake had 30 inches of ice when they cut a whole in the ice to do a polar plunge.
After the lake trip we started snow biking every chance we could get. Also just before Christmas I started reading the fat bike thread on mtbr.com. Someone posted a story about Eric Larsen attempting to ride a Moonlander (the same bikes we have) to the South Pole. I started to read his log, and was a little surprised that after 10 days of biking he turned around. Wow, what an adventure. I was impressed would talk about the trip to just about everyone. Then Mark Pendelton starts telling me that when he wins the lottery he is going to do the trip with a full support crew and is going to take me with him. Well, I don't see that happening. Nice dream, but, yeah.
Why Didn't He Make It?
But, it gets me thinking. Why didn't Eric make it? I read his blog. He had a little kid that he didn't want to be away from for that long. He talks about how he might not be able to complete the trip in most posts. Did he just not really want to do it? It is an incredible feat so I feel bad even doubting his resolve. Why then didn't his expedition succeed? His bike weighed 130+ pounds. He was pushing it up hill and through soft snow. The winds were strong and I assume the panniers caught a lot of wind. Maybe he could have made it if he wasn't doing it solo and carrying his own gear. 10 days and he went 175 miles. Actually less then 10 days because day 10 was headed back, and the first day or two was getting to the start. So he had to have averaged more than 17.5 miles per day. I read Hannah's record breaking trip to the South Pole. Eric average more miles per day than Hannah did. Why did he not make it? Then I look at the time table. Hannah started in mid November, Eric started in late December. The trip needs to be completed by Jan 18 when the camps at the pole and Union Glacier close. So while Eric's number of days to complete was possible his late start made it so he would be at the South Pole after the drop dead date.
I Should Do This!
I have to be willing to have the most demanding and difficult experience that I will ever have and still be willing to go on. I have to start early enough that I have at least 60 days to travel. And I need a lighter bike. I would like to do it with a support vehicle. Not nearly as courages as Eric, but if I could have supplies carried by a vehicle that would improve odds of completing tremendously. The trip would still be an amazing feat, and it would leave the door open for someone to one up me. If on the other hand I need to carry my own supplies in order to make the logistics work then I think a sled would be better than the panniers. I could be wrong, but I think the sled low to the ground and more aero would be better than weighing the bike down, making it hard to stay on top of sastrugi and catching all the wind.
So There It Is
Now I need to hear back from ALE and see what the real plan is, get the kickstarter project launched and train for the pole.