Some days you just have to forego all other obligations and escape. Isn’t this what Fat bike are all about? The adventure and the escape from the everyday. Today we took advantage of an epic +20 Celsius day in November. Just about my favorite time of year. Leaves have mostly fallen and all have turned to an ocher orange and you can beat a day in November without a bit of wind. Almost like the calm before the winter storm. Today’s adventure was about revisiting a lost trail from my past. A trail we rode religiously when we were out every day in search of any place you could take a bike off road. This was circa 1988. An avid road cyclist at the time, mainly because we lived out of town and if I wanted to get anywhere a 10 spd bike was what you owned. When I saw a mountain bike for the first time It wasn’t long till I had saved up and picked up a sweet GT Avalanche! 4130 Chromoly frame and fork, Flip flop quill stem, cantis and zebra paint. Classic 80’s. This was fat tire riding and I was free to explore anywhere off the beaten path, shocking hikers everywhere.
Seeing as there were no Mountain bike parks, clubs or trails even considered open to cyclists we quickly explored any hiking tracks, hunt camp roads, Hydro and pipeline tracks. One of these great trails is the Hawn Farm trail which leaves from the McDonalds in Gravenhurst, Ontario. The first section skirts the edge of a precipitous cliff now commonly used for rock climbing and bouldering. The ledges of granite which make up this section of the trail are more reassuring on a fat bike while you can ride slow and stable and enjoy the added grip and scenery from the overlooks.
Todays rides were a couple of Rocky Mountain Blizzards which we have added to our demo fleet for the season. The Blizzard -10 we reviewed a few days ago and can check out here. Now we can look at the new 2016 version of the Rocky Mountain Blizzard -30. This was a great first time entry into the fat bike market last year from a major brand but Rocky has had it’s roots in mountain bikes. I remember lusting after the original Blizzard and Elements and of course Rocky is West Coast Canadian so what’s not to like? I appreciate the thought they put into the design and where they focus their costs in the spec. It shows they are riders and not just slapping a wider rear end on their token hard tail. The Blizzard -30 was engineered for the travel of a 100mm Bluto suspension which you will find on the same frame equipped with on the Blizzard -50. This frame then specs an Aluminum fork with 150mm spacing for a direct swap should you wish to change up in the future. The frame is equipped with thru axles front and rear to keep the Sun Ringle SRC hubs and Mulefut rims solidly guided. With wide 197mm spacing of fat bikes like the Blizzard and the leverage forces on the wide hubs it makes sense to keep it as stiff as possible. Back to the attention to spec from Rocky we realize every bike is set to a budget and for $2199 we think they have done a great job in putting dollars into what matters. The Shimano Deore drive train is fairly faultless and not a detail they need to improve on. When matched with the new Aeffect crank from Raceface which now accepts direct mount (spiderless) chainring they are able to run a tiny 24T ring in combination with the 11-36 10 speed cassette we had all the gearing we needed. Desire a faster set and you can easily switch the ring up to a 28 or 30T for summer but likely only needed if you were to run a summer 27.5 or 29+ wheelset (which we would love to try on this ride). The highlight on this bike is a hydro formed frame with dropper post routing and a dynomite set of wheels. The SRC hubs are a great spec and the Mulefut is currently one of the lightest and the best tubeless ready fat bike rim. We’re looking forward to setting this pair up for our next ride. The Shimano hydraulic brakes did a great job as Shimano does. While they are mineral oil this isn’t as big a deal as people make out of it. I have run XT brakes for seasons in temperature below -25c with minor inconvenience. For most riders the advantage of better 3 season braking will greatly outweigh the odd extreme weather brake drag.
The 2015 Blizzard was an understated stealth black and we rather like that Rocky went with this bold blue this season as it really stand out on a sunny day! Now enough about bikes and more about trails! This trail connects to a hunt camp trail winding it’s way through Canadian Shield and small lakes and streams out to the Jevins and Silver lake wilderness area. This small lake area is very private and with limited access is one pristine spot on a day like today.