Friday, November 30, 2012

dead weight

Since John is doing Arrowhead with me I'll be sporting a pair of viking horns on my helmet.  It could be worse:
does this helmet make my butt look big?
Yesterday I went out for a ride - and except for an unplanned and unwanted stop (see first picture below) I rode for the better part of 4 hours.  OK, I did take a few quick breaks mainly to look at the map and try and figure out where in the hell I was.

For the most part the ATV trail I rode part of the ride on was pretty much untracked except for some animal tracks in spots and also the tracks of some jackass who drove a truck down the trail.  And, of course, I left a set of tracks almost sure to confuse the majority of trail users.

If it doesn't burn gas and say VROOM I don't know what to make of it.  Pert near a mystifactory.  

I've never been all that clean of a guy.  I can't ever remember cleaning my room and having it stay that way for more than about 15 minutes.  So in some ways it's satisfying for me to ride across and blank slate of fresh snow.
It's like a fresh silken handkerchief is lain out before me waiting for the sneeze of my tires.  Or whatever.  I'm not feeling particularly funny at the moment.

And of course the depth of the untracked snow can either enhance the fun factor (as in the above picture) or detract from it:

When the snow is deep enough and hard packed enough to support your bike as you walk away and take a picture then it's time to stop riding.  Guess who didn't.  This guy (me):
I can just feel myself getting dumber the longer I look at this picture.
Well, truth be told, I did stop riding in that deep snow.  Not because I didn't want to, because I couldn't.  I walked while I pushed my bike to a spot where the snow wasn't so deep.  It's a rare time when you can't even push (or carry) your bike.  And of course it varies from person to person on when to say when.  But it does happen.  I must admit that I get pretty frustrated when I have to push.  Not that I won't do it - heaven knows I have done my share of that - it's just that well, I like to ride my bike not push the damn thing.  By far the most frustrating thing is riding in snow that is just barely ridable where you can go from a wobbly, effortful ride to pushing, think the snow is firm enough to maybe try riding so you swing your leg over your top tube and your wheel just spins in the soft snow.  Swing your leg off your bike.  Push.  Try again.  Nope, still too soft.  Push. Try again.  Actually get going but it's so slow and wobbly and takes so much energy that you're better off walking.  Push some more.   Think of a stop-and-go traffic jam.  Are we having fun yet?

What you can't see is that there is not only the snow (8" of the stuff) but a layer of frozen rain under it.  It was a hoot.  Yeah right, it sucked plain and simple.  Everybody quit this race.  It was a push-your-bike-until-you-quit race where the guy who rode/pushed farthest before he quit won.  Whoof - it's giving me heeby-jeebies just to think about it. 

In other news: A Surly Pugley fully built up weighs about 38 lbs.  Add another 25 pounds of gear on top of that and you get a rig that weighs a few pounds shy of 65 lbs.  I weight about 165 pounds.  And let's say that I wear 10 pounds of clothing for a winter ride.  That's a grand total of 240 pounds (which is an estimate, I've never weighed it to be sure).  I will obviously try to minimize the weight I carry - things have a way of adding up over 135 miles.  But a fat-bike is necessarily heavy.  I weighed just my rear wheel a while back and the wheel alone weighed almost 10 pounds.  Ugh.  Even the Salsa Beargrease weighs in at around 28 pounds - quite a bruiser for a full-on race bike.  There's just simply alot of rubber - and worse yet that rubber is rotating weight.  Anyway, I'm trying to think of ways to lighten my bike/rider total weight.  The rider weight isn't going to change much.  I've been at the same weight since high school almost 15 year ago.  I've been trying to think of how I could save a half pound here, 4 ounces there, a full pound somewhere else.  But 1) each little drop in weight comes at an expense (unless I just totally omit something.  Some things are required gear and I can't omit them anyway; and others are a safety issue and omitting them could mean bad news); for example I could buy a new -20 down sleeping bag - but a new bag costs hundreds - but the synthetic one I have now - though heavy - works fine.  I suppose that I could give up my thick sleeping pad up and go with a thinner one and save a half a pound - and hope to god that I don't have to use it.  And 2)  Say I was able to drop a pound here, four ounces there and a half a pound somewhere else - that's 1.75 pounds.  That's pretty decent.  But that 1.75 pounds is less than 1% of my total weight (.73% or 1.75/240) or 2.7% of by bike weight.  I can't really justify spending hundreds to drop a percent or two off of my overall weight.  My strategy is to carry what I need and not anything else (although it's impossible to be able to totally predict what you'll need when temps could range 70+ degrees (as they did at Arrowhead between '11 and '12)  lighten things as much as I reasonably can - and don't worry about it.

Maybe I can drop a bit of brain-weight by just staring at that picture for a while.

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