Thursday, June 14, 2012

Platte River Trail shakedown cruise on the Pugsley

2012 Surly Necromancer Pugsley, as clean as it will ever be.
Yesterday, I took an extended lunch and rode North from my office along the Platte River Trail up into Adams County. Round trip, the distance was a little over 20 miles; my first long ride on the Pugsley. It was incidentally also the first ride on the Pug out in the general populace, which was somewhat revealing about just how non-normal fatbikes are perceived to be.

After riding a Big Dummy for years, often loaded with things not generally thought of as being transportable by bike, I'm accustomed to receiving dumbfounded stares while out and about. However, the Pugsley drew even more attention. I could not count the number of times I heard observers mention to each other or to me something along the lines of, "look at those tires," or, "those tires are huge." I also got a lot of "cool bike" comments from both bicyclists and non-bicyclists alike, both genders, and from people ranging in age from approximately 6 to 80. I had several people, from construction workers to former bike shop owners stop me to ask about the Pugsley. One obviously inebriated fellow even asked me about how I got here from the future. For the duration of the ride, I got to feel what it might be like as the belle of the ball.
The requisite photo of fat tire tracks in the sand, Endomorph over Larry.
Although the Platte River Trail is paved for much of its length, there are numerous parallel trails in the dirt and sandbars lining the Platte River. I made the most of these non-paved surfaces whenever possible. The Pugsley is a bike that craves the dirt. It encourages its rider to seek out uneven surfaces and spots with mucky or soft strata. This is probably not a revelation to anyone who has much experience on a fatbike, but it was easier to ride through loose sand than to attempt to walk over it. As long as I didn't make any sharp turns, the Pug rolled over even the most unstable of surfaces.
A cormorant cooling itself near the water in the 90F degree heat.
The best the zoom on my little camera could do to show the black-crowned night heron at the water's edge.
The Platte River Trail is a great place to escape the cityscape, quickly and easily from many locations in downtown Denver. A lot of people were taking advantage of the cooling effects of the water and trees. Many species of birds and small animals were also present along the river.
With two big gyroscopes spinning, it's easy to ride no-hands, even off road.
The Pugsley, and fatbikes in general, are usually framed as being special purpose bikes for snow or sand. However, that point of view seriously undermines the capabilities of these bikes. Riding on doubletrack and gravel roads, even along coarse gravel railroad beds is terrific fun on a fatbike. The fat tires at low pressure remove or reduce a lot of the jarring effects of rough surfaces without the somewhat dead feeling that would be evident with a full suspension mountain bike in the same places. The float of the fat tires is the perfect amount of suspension to make riding fun without impairing the sense of feedback to the rider from the trail. Overall, the Pugsley is great fun. Riding it makes me feel like a kid again.
Construction along the Platte River Trail under I-76. It might be problematic during the Denver Century Ride this weekend.
My Pugsley on a bridge near the furthest extent of my ride, somewhere in Welby, CO.
In the evening, I got together with some friends for a gathering of the Surly Owners Society (S.O.S.) at a local brewery. Tracy showed off her Trucker with fancy shellacked cork grips on a newly installed Nitto Albatross bar, and Sandy had skinny Continentals on his roadied-up Cross-Check. While the number of attendees do not yet rival the popular Denver Cruisers rides, we had some good beer and some good fun.
Sandy left speechless after his first ride on a Pugsley. Start saving, Sandy!
Tracy with a smile as big as the Pugsley's tires.
Surly family portrait in front of Biker Jim's house of gourmet dogs: L-R 54 cm Long Haul Trucker in green, 58 cm Cross-Check in black, and 20 inch Necromancer Pugsley.

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