Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Fatter Than Average

 Ages ago I was a non-traditional college student at Eastern Kentucky University.  I was in my thirties, married, and had two kids.  Of course I was less than cool.  I felt myself invisible on campus to the younger crowd.  Late in my tenure there I took a gen ed health class.  I had put it off for as long as I could, but finally, I had to take the class as I approached graduation.  I won’t even go into the STD video I was forced to watch.  I begged the TA to not make me watch the graphic video, but it was a requirement of the course.  To graduate ultimately…

Anyway, one of the required assignments of the class was to attend a campus health fair.  At the second station a pretty young co-ed asked me to stand on a scale.  I sighed and stepped up.  I knew I was fat.  I knew to the nineteen year old very fit young lady standing there with the clipboard I must look like a middle-aged slob.

She noted my weight, handed me my form to take on to the next station and said “Next.” As I walked to the next health station I looked at my weight results.  There was weight, height, BMI and where I expected to see “overweight” or “obese” the young college student had written boldly “FATTER THAN AVERAGE.”

I had to laugh to myself.  I knew that couldn’t be a clinical term.  It probably applied to me.  But c’mon, fatter than average?  Oh well.

The first time I had the opportunity to ride a fat bike was at a Surly bike demo in Buffalo Creek, Colorado. We were living in the Denver metro area at the time.  I was a fully time bike commuter, fledgling mountain biker, and Leadville 100 aspirant.  Actually, I think it was right after I had DNFed during my first Leadville attempt.  Anyway…
Surly Krampus, Buffalo Creek, CO
My local bike shop had sponsored the demo along with Surly and I desperately wanted to go ride a Krampus which is a 29+ bike.  That is, it’s not a fully fat bike with 4” tires, but slightly slimmer with still very large 3” tires. I loved that bike.  The plus bike was a dream to ride on the pea-sized decomposed granite of Buffalo Creek.  I was smitten to be sure.  In fact, I wanted to leave Surly with my empty debit card and just ride off into the sunset on the Krampus.  But like the civilized human I am I returned the bike and continued to pine for it for years.  Money was an issue.  I couldn’t justify the coin needed to procure a Surly Krampus whilst housing two other mountain bikes, a cargo bike, and a road bike.  Still I pined.

Last year I came across a review of the Marin Pine Mountain.  I had been riding my singlespeed Redline almost exclusively.  I had put a rigid fork on it and was loving the simplicity and elegance of a rigid singlespeed bike.  However, I wanted a better geared bike for my aging knees and hips that would inspire me like the singlespeed.  I wanted a bike that would appeal to my love of that old 1994 Cannondale M300 that I’d converted to a cargo bike.  I wanted a bike that would speak to my sense of nostalgia.  Marin’s fully rigid 27.5+ 1x10 Pine Mountain fit the bill. And so I Pined.  I called Mike’s Hike and Bike as they were the only local Marin dealer.  They didn’t have them.  Would be after the first of the year (2016).  I called back.  And again.  Until they had them and I went on a cold day and rode a large frame Pine Mountain around the parking lots of downtown Richmond, Kentucky.  I was hooked. 

My new bike is fatter than average.  Oh yes, I finally got one.  It’s a funny story that.

I was racing around the day of the Rough Trail 50k taking photos and shuttling aid station supplies when I ran into THE Mike of Mike’s Hike and Bike at Koomer Ridge Campground.  I stopped to chat for just a second.  I wanted to ask if his shop could rebuild the suspension fork on my Cannondale.  It’s been five years; the bike needs some serious love in its bearings and seals.  He said he could and gave me a ballpark idea of the cost.  He also offered a suggestion accompanied with a knowing grin:

“Maybe it’s time for a new bike.”

I agreed, haha, and mentioned I needed to get bearings for the front wheel of that bike too.

Before I bolted to interject myself back into the race I also mentioned that I was still interested in the Marin Pine Mountain he had in his shop.  With that I was off and racing my own race in support of the race.

Back at home that evening I mentioned to Mandy the conversation I’d had with Mike. I gave her the less than thumbnail sketch of the conversation I described above and near the end of my epic tale she cut me off:

“I bought you the Pine Mountain!”

I was uncharacteristically speechless.

In a flood of words she told me how she had called the bike shop and purchased the bike.  She defended telling me of it because listening to me tell of my conversation with Mike she panicked and was afraid I would do something rash like buy the bike outright or put it on layaway like I had threatened a couple of times.

In my defense I wouldn’t have done either of those things without consulting her.  The only bike I’ve bought without previously discussing was the Redline singlespeed and that was because I sold Minus to fund the purchase.  Bike-for-a-bike kind of situation…

Anyway, so now I have a bike I can better relate to from a body-type standpoint.  We’re both “fatter than average.” I’ve never really been drawn to the full fat Pugsley or Moonlanders and their ilk.  While I can see the appeal the plus sized bikes have seemed more my speed and shape.
Imitating my ride
I do have to add that when I do the Mohican this year or any KY Point Series races or the 12 Hour Race I will be riding the Cannondale (aka, The One).  Its lighter and more nimble.  The Pine Mountain is just not a racy type bike.  But then again, I’m not really a racy type guy.  I occasionally donate money to various race events and then proceed to get in the way of everyone behind me who is gunning for the finish. 

I don’t know, maybe I will race the PM on shorter courses.  But for the long stuff—for Mohicans and Leadv…other endurance races—I’ll likely ride The One.

And that is my post-Christmas report. 


  1. Congrats on the PM. It's a sweet looking ride. I want to add a similar bike to the stable. I've been looking at the Krampus for awhile now. Fingers crossed that Santa brings me one for 2017.

    1. I still love the Krampus. The PM was more in my price range!

  2. Thanks for the fun writeup. I'm sure that "fatter than average" will be heard on many group rides in the upcoming weeks!