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Fatbike on the Fourth

4228 Views 11 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  jesusburger
I took the Fatbike out for another beach journey today, in spite of the fact that it was the 4th and beaches were likely to be crowded. This time I decided to take my camera so I could share a little of the riding I am able to do with this bike.

Time for a little gear talk first. I have seen threads with people looking for racks that will carry the Fatbike. This is the Saris Cycle-on. It needs a couple of velcro loops to keep the bike tight in emergency manuevers as I found after an emergency stop, but it hold the bike securely once you do that. It holds road bikes, 26ers, 29ers, etc. with ease and no reconfiguration. And when I fold it up I can still open my hatch.

This is a Fatbike, not a Pugsley, it just has a Desalvo decal kit on it. This one is adorned in Yeti Blue paint. It is front brake-less, because they are just plain unnecessary in the sand. Stopping on level sand is not a problem. Keeping moving forward is. For trail rides I have a front brake at the ready. It is also front derailleur-less at the moment. It has a 2x9 drivetrain with 20/36T chainrings, and manual shifting in the front. I could put a front derailleur on, but after riding it like this for a while, it has grown on me. In the sand, all I need is the small ring. Once I hit the pavement, all I want is the bigger ring. I think it would use the front derailluer about 3 or 4 times a ride. Wet beach sand is such nasty stuff it gets in everything. Removing the front derailleur and brakes makes for that many less places for sand to get into. This would be a great application (and test of the seals) of a Rohloff, but I will leave that to someone else to try.

Other details: I plan to make this my "guest bike" someday, so I put a VRO stem and I Beam saddle on for adjustability. In her current state she weighs in at a sprightly 28.75 lbs.

It is in line waiting to get into the state beach parking lot. I could park elsewhere, but I love parking down with all the surfers, watching them surf, and talking about the bike, which always attracts many questions (OK, I am a sucker for that, but at least I admit it).

The surf was busy today, and the recreational beaches crowded. The remote beaches...well see below. It does not take much to prop the Fatbike up in the sand. I put 8 psi in the tires. If you bounce the fork like you would a supension fork to see how it feels, the tire bulge out - a LOT. Kind of scary really, but if you ride smooth on the sand, it works well.

Ahh, those darned crowded Southern California beaches. This is my secret beach (well, kind of), and I always have it to myself, no matter when I am out here, even on the 4th of July. It is like riding your mountain bike in an area with lots of casual hikers. After a few miles the hikers all thin out. There are lots of footprints here, but they don't go far. The cliffs are stunning in person, 40-80 feet high, and they are my constant companion when I ride along this beach.

A cliff arch close up. There are many interesting things to see in these cliffs. Other arches, collapsed sections, deep inlets, etc.

Ahh, but the beach is not all a smooth ride. These rockbeds are both tricky to ride and a lot of fun once you get good at them. The tide moves them around, so they are always different. Farther down the beach where the lifeguards patrol the beach in pickups, you can cheat and follow their treads in some places. Sometimes the best line is right along the surf, sometimes the line is right where the rocks end and the sand starts. They vary greatly in size, are always off camber as a group. The technique for these babies is the same as the sand. Spin, spin, spin! You can feel how spinning causes your rear tire to float over stuff, and how hammering makes it sink it. Instantly. Weight forward helps, getting on the nose of the saddle is neccessary when you get in a tough spot, and no sharp steering is allowed, or you will auger the front tire into the soft stuff.

Just a quick gizmo shot - a tide watch. It shows I am out at low tide, which is good. High tide can be dangerous - some beaches disappear altogether if the tide is high enough, there are signs of it reaching all the way to the cliffs leaving you nowhere to go. Falling tide is easier than a rising tide, because the waves are not pushing farther up the beach. I have gotten caught in waves crashing up on me as I ride, it is suprisingly easy to take a few waves across your bow as you ride, but it is to be avoided for the sake of your equipment if nothing else. Waves always leave a deposit of sand in your chain and it has to grind its way out for a few revs. I have tried a few chainlubes, not an exhaustive search, but White Lightning Race Day has been my favorite so far.

After passing the rockbeds, several crowded beaches, including a clothing optional beach, I am rewarded with a view like this for half an hour or so, never seeing a soul. The view is like this the whole time, utterly unreal. A school of dolphins followed me, or vise versa, for a while, frolicking in the waves and even doing a little surfing. But I was not fast enough with my camera, alas.

This beach is empty for two reasons. At some point, it changes from State Park to Marine Base. For the most part, the base is closed, but more on that later. And getting here is just plain difficult. There is no road or parking up on those cliffs or anywhere within miles at this point, and there are no trails cut down the cliffs along this section. These cliffs continue uninterrupted, towering over the sand like sentinels, silent guardians watching over it. Only those with the ability to traverse the beach quickly and easily can experience these places.

This section of beach is called "gold beach". I did not capture it well, but this picture is as close as I could get. The sand must be full of fools gold/pyrite, or something like it, it sparkles like crazy with a gold color.

This is red beach, and it is on the Marine Base. On many weekends, the Marine Base opens the beach to civilian RVs and fishing. And beach biking, too, I presume. At this point I turned around and went back. The entire ride (photo sessions and all) took about 4 hours. These sand rides kick my butt. They are like all climbing, no descending, and they demand good pedaling technique, which causes them fatigue my legs in a different way from other cycling, hopefully in a good, cross training kind of way.
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Very nice !

So now you have to build a rack on your bike so that you can bring your board with you to surf this nice "secret spot" !
Great spot!
but for a different type of "ride.":thumbsup:
I guess we're neighbors...


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No pics of beach girls? Come on, some of us live in the mid-west.
Holy cow, this is a great post! I love the beach pics and a new venue to explore via the net, not the usual mountain high singletrack and desert shots - very nice!

No pics of beach girls? Come on, some of us live in the mid-west.
Yeah, I have to agree, where is the love? ;)

Ed E
Aaah, how long before the first organized group sand rides? Sometimes our beaches actually offer some FR-like riding if you don't mind getting wet. Big holes to jump or walls to ride. Buy cogs and chains in bulk folks :)

Awesome post, and impressive ride.
Over here when the sun's out, the beaches become a no-go-zone for horses and bikes. Few empty places also.

In October we have a 130km beach marathon. South to North. Just 10km paved to get around a river. I want a bike with sanded down Surly Endomorph tires. I know in my heart it's going to be fast, especially with tailwind.

Beaches like yours sure beat riding pavement among traffic!

Nomination for best post of 2006?
Beautiful bike and beach pix

Very good write up too. I wanted to be out there and try that bike on that beach! :D

Psst secret beach: San Onofre SB? ;)

tl1 said:
Very good write up too. I wanted to be out there and try that bike on that beach! :D

Psst secret beach: San Onofre SB? ;)
Doh! Don't tell everyone. I could make a loop that included some trail riding on some realtively unknown singletrack in San Mateo, too.

As for beach babe pics, I am working on it. I really want some to pose with the bike. I have not gotten up the nerve to ask yet. I am working on a strategy. I get lots of guys asking about the bike, maybe they would understand if I asked their girlfriends to pose? Maybe they would kick my butt? I will get some results at some point, I am sure.
Say you're a hobby photographer yourself and are trying to get your bike in a magazine, and it seems to deserve a beautiful woman posing with it. It's not what you want, but how you bring the idea :)
Giggling women are asking to be adressed. Make them giggle.
Tire pressure

Hey DirtDad, neat photos.

What do you use to measure the PSI of your tires?

I can only find an accurate gauge for car-type valves, not presta tubes.

I do lots of beach riding down here in New Zealand on a Pugsley and just use the hand squish method to set my pressure. If it starts to slip in the softer stuff I just let a bit more out. It works, but I'm concerned the tire will slip on the rim one day and ruin my tube.

- J.B.
Topeak Digital

jesusburger said:
Hey DirtDad, neat photos.
What do you use to measure the PSI of your tires?
I do lots of beach riding down here in New Zealand on a Pugsley and just use the hand squish method to set my pressure. If it starts to slip in the softer stuff I just let a bit more out.
The Topeak digital works. It is presta/schrader, accurate to within a half pound, measures down to single digits, and is easy to read. I can play with pressures from 7-9 lbs. for example. It also goes up to 250 psi, but I have no idea what kind of tire would take that pressure.

The only issue I can see with pressures down around 8 or lower is the casing must be folding up sometimes. My expensive 'morphs are developing small creases. I am watching them.

Low pressure is so important. A few days ago I pumped the tires to 20 psi and rode the pavement to the beach. They are so squirelly on the pavement at 8 psi. When I got to the beach I could not figure out what was wrong, I could not go anywhere. Then I realized I was still at 20 psi. I dropped to 8 psi and proceeded to float over the sand as usual.

You have a Pugs in NZ on the beach, eh? Have you ever looked up Jakub the Canning Stock Route solo rider? I know, it is a big country, but from a global perspective you are close.
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New Zealand Pugs


Thanks for the prompt reply! :) I'll be getting one of those Topeak SmartHead digital gauges when funds permit.
I have spoken with Jakub on email asking questions about his racks, and as he has the only other Pugsley in Auckland I am sure we will run into each other one day. I believe there are 4 Pugs in New Zealand at the moment but that may well change as we have no shortage of beaches, or snow for that matter.
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