Given the record winter we have had, I figured we'd have snow here and wet trails well into the "summer". That makes it gloppy on a standard MTB. Not that I needed any excuse, but that seemed like a good enough one for a new bike. So:
Hello Bikes Direct. Didn't know if a fat bike was one of those things you'd buy then go "this sucks" so I didn't feel the need for a $5000 uber light carbon thing. On the other hand my unified theory of toys is that if you buy carp, you're going to be disappointed. Seemed like a sweet spot. 2 x 10 SRAM, hydraulic brakes, tubeless ready wheels, Etc. Came in a box, went out the door like this.
Couple of "adjustment" rides and threw it in the van and drove to the NV/CA border to tackle this:
The current road is mostly dirt, running 100 or so miles across the Sierras. My plan was to ride out to the Crystal Mine and back, provided the snow was solid enough. And I wasn't attacked by mammoths. Or got caught up in the Roop County War.
Now Henness Pass shows up on most GPS units. Not uncommon in states with a lot of dirt roads. Thing is it's not plowed, is quite steep in places, and can get a dozen or more feet of snow in the winter. The Donner Party used it to get the infamous lake where they spent the winter, watching it close down behind them as the snow fell.
This year the highway between Truckee and Reno had been closed several times due to avalanches and mudslides. So folks figured they'd just use Henness Pass. Much towing and abandoned vehicles ensued. As a result, all along the route to the start of the road you'll see signs like this:
"No through route to Highway 80!" "This road closed to winter traffic". Etc.
And this sign outside the first house you come to once you get stuck:
I guess they got tired of folks knocking at their door asking for a rope.
So away I went. Stopped a couple times to tweak the seat and adjust the derailleurs. For a heavy bike I was pretty happy with the way it climbed; low gears helped and those tires roll over just about everything.
Stopped to chat with a geologist who wanted to know about the bike. Got to talking about old MX iron. Words like "Ossa" and "Bultaco" bandied about. Onward.
Few miles up the road the snow started. Then started to get deeper. Then I passed the first stuck pickup. Then the stuck Subaru. Then another stuck pickup. Another mile and I was doing a lot of pushing through soft wet 3 foot drifts. Then a curtain of solid white.
No mine stop today.
On the way back down I made the discovery that the big low pressure tires not only provided a pretty decent ride, but a heck of a lot of traction. Pretty fun.
Stopped at the geologist. Helped him load some old carpet left on the side of the road for traction mats to help pull some of the stuck folks out. I wasn't dressed to shovel snow so I continued back down the hill.
I was left with a couple hours to kill, so I went exploring. See a trail, take it. With the fat tires you roll over stuff that would stop you on a regular bike. Big cobbles? No problem. Sandbars? Ha.
Found an old brick powerhouse. Rode down the Truckee river bed:
Found an old bridge on a trail that ended on an island in the middle of the river. Nice view:
The river was full and if not raging, at least pretty ticked off.