After NAHBS last weekend I was tired, body and soul, and needed to get away from things for a bit before starting back into work at the shop. NAHBS turned out to be a great show. I hear it had record attendance. All I know is that I was busy talking with people almost continuously throughout the entire weekend.
Shortly after arriving back home, I threw my bike on the bus that heads out to the coast and got off at the International Hostel in Seaside. If you ever have the chance to stay at this hostel, it's a good one. The owner and head of the hostel is Trung, and she's the best. She's quick to laugh and curious and knowledgeable about local places to eat and points of interest, and she makes a delicious Vietnamese coffee. There are kayaks for rent, and if she's not too busy Trung may invite you to go on a hike in the hills or a walk on the beach.
Thursday was a rare day on the coast this time of year. The sun rose and promised a fogless, cloudless morning. The fat bike and I were on the beach by 8, and I was down to a t-shirt by 9. I can't even explain how much fun I had riding out to the sand. This was my first real experience on a fat tire bike, so I didn't know what to expect.
I started north on the road to cross the estuary that borders that side of town, and the river that contains the beach. Once across the bridge I turned immediately into the wetlands the river feeds. There were a couple of trails through, and then I hit the silt beds, a mixture of mud and sand that is washed in and out with each ebb and flow of the tides. The moon, for those of you who didn't notice, was huge and full the past couple of days. Hence some of the rest of the craziness in the world. Or, at least in my world. When I started into the silt beds the tide was way out.
I crossed a couple of small streams that were maybe as deep as my axle line, which got my disc brakes to scraping. A few taps on the brake levers and they quieted down. The muck of silt was nasty, but as I got closer to the beach it turned more to sand. What I was most pleased with at this point was that I was moving right through it. I wouldn't have wanted to put my foot down in it, but the bike was cruising right along. There was a sucking and slurping as the tires mashed through, but the soft silt was only about an inch deep. Below that was hard pack.
Out of the silt bed I headed into the dunes that back the beach. The sand is soft here. There were a couple of places that the wheel buried and I wasn't able to pedal, but for the most part I kept in a low gear and paddled on through. That's what it felt like, too: Paddling in the sand.
The sand churned under me and I moved right along. Not fast, but it's not about going fast. Winding around between the dune grasses and along the rim that's been pushed up by thousands of years of wind was, I don't know how to describe it, except for fun. I was riding a bike in a place that I'd never considered a possibility before. When that happens, all I can think about is, "what else can I do with this bike?"
Off the rim of the dunes I dropped down onto the beach. Here the riding was easy. The damp sand is a lot like hard-pack, and I was able to cruise along no hands for miles. A half-hour up the coast there were no more houses or buildings, and I really got the feeling that I was alone, out away from everything. I stopped and listened to the ocean and soaked up the sunshine.
I'm ready to do a coastal tour, meaning, riding down the beach. The fat bike I built has carrying capacity for panniers in the back and a dry bag up front. The lower racks on the fork can carry a tent and sleeping bag. There are enough towns along the coast that you wouldn't have to pack more than a couple days-worth of food or water at a time. And the riding is easy. The best thing, besides being continuously beside the ocean is, there are no cars, few people, and the only thing you hear are wind and waves, and the occasional gull.
This is my initial ride report for the fat bike. It was a preliminary run, not anything too intense. But my o my is it inspiring. It gives me the excitement of a little kid. Amazing how a bicycle can do that.
More ride reports to come. You better believe it. If there were ever a bicycle that Dr. Schrimble would enjoy, I'd say this would be it. And, well, you're probably going to need to get yourself one of these fat bikes. I'm just saying...