Fat Tire Tuesday: Skinny tires save the day

A mountain biking addict finds inspiration on a frigid road ride

By Sarah Hansing

Thanks to Gord Fraiser for suggesting we all do a shot of peppermint schnapps at the bottom of that freezing descent. The oldest bar in Nevada has never been over-run by lycra before, and the look on the local cowboys' faces was about as priceless as the ride was.

Thanks to Gord Fraiser for suggesting we all do a shot of peppermint schnapps at the bottom of that freezing descent. The oldest bar in Nevada has never been over-run by lycra before, and the collective expression on the locals’ faces was about as priceless as the ride was.

Being off the mountain bike because of injury is something that most, if not all, of us are familiar with. Enter: road bikes.

Having been off the bike for about ten days due to my own injury, I was getting antsy. And sad. Really, really sad. But my sanity was saved by skinny tires this past weekend. It was a surprising email to get, but with a recommendation from a friend in San Diego, I was fortunate enough to be invited to a SRAM special road event in Tahoe. The plan was to ride some of the new SRAM 1 x 11 road components and hydraulic disc brakes on the beautiful roads around South Lake Tahoe, and then give some feedback to the SRAM engineers about our impressions of the new product.

As many of you know, it hasn’t snowed in Tahoe for most of the winter. In fact, the past few weekends have been nothing but sunshine and 70 degree weather.

…Except for this past weekend. Specifically, the only day the ride was supposed to go off. We woke up to snow, rain, and sub 40 temperatures. Hooray. Fortunately, the mountain biker in me is used to adaptation, and the tendency for me to grossly overpack for a trip, paid off.

What did NOT pay off, is living at sea level.

It turns out the ride included two pro men, three pro women, and seven mortals just like me, 34 miles, and approximately 5400+ feet of climbing. The beautiful scenery took my breath away (both literally and figuratively). The climbs in the snow were unique; not something I have been subjected to since living on the East Coast. The descents were fast and freezing. I thought I was probably going to die once or twice. And it was just what I needed.

Being off the bike, for me, isn’t something that … er … suits me. I become nothing less than a spazzy, emotional shit show. So this opportunity to go turn myself inside out was a total blessing in disguise. I am a creature of habit; a slave to routine. There are very few of us who are “spontaneous” riders. We have certain days we ride, with certain people, in certain places. And when I couldn’t hit the trails, my world got turned upside down. The past ten days had me locked into a mindset that didn’t allow for an epiphany: just because I couldn’t ride my mountain bike, doesn’t mean I couldn’t pedal.

But somehow or another, we all need to turn those pedals over to get the “feels” out; to get those wiggles out. Good for the body, good for the soul. And good for not feeling cranky, volatile and stabby.

So. I would like to give a shout out to all bikes. Fat tires or skinny tires. Cruisers and dirt jumpers. BMX and hybrids. Cyclocross and fixed gear. And everything in between. No matter what, we must keep pedaling (for the sake of ourselves, and everyone around us).

We don’t have to ride fast, we just have to ride.

So thanks, SRAM, for almost murdering me in the best, most glorious way I can imagine. The world looks bright again.

Photo: Todd Watts

Photo: Todd Watts


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​Fat Tire Tuesday columnist Sarah Hansing has been slinging wrenches as a pro bike mechanic for 15 years (with the exception of a one year stint working for Trek Bicycles in Wisconsin.) Epicenter Cycling scooped her up as their lead mechanic and the shop’s crew plans to ​keep her forever. Sarah loves riding singlet​rack, wrenching on bikes, and hanging out with her jerk-face but adorable cat Harlan. (Who is a jerk.)

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