Homebound above Prés d'Orvin.
Homebound above Prés d'Orvin.

A Weekday Fat-Bike Ride

My fat-bike season already started on November 28th with a ride in Prés d'Orvin. When the snow reached the lowlands at the beginning of December, I was able to start my snow rides right from our doorstep for two weekends. The Montagne de Romont and Plagne were my destinations on each of those weekends. Except for Sunday, December 12th, the weather wasn't the best. Fog, wind, and snowfall never bother me. On the contrary, it's much more an achievement to stand under the Chasseral antenna with 100kph winds and heavy snowfall than getting there on a pleasant, sunny winter day.

This past weekend I took Friday and Monday off. Unfortunately, I only managed to head out for a ride on Monday, the last day of my extended weekend. On Sunday, I had my booster shot midday, which meant not enough time before the appointment, and then it was too late to head to Prés d'Orvin, which is a popular weekend destination for anyone wanting to go into the snow. On a side note, I was pretty impressed with how well organized the vaccination center was and how quickly I was in and out of there with a booster shot into my left shoulder and a new certificate in my right hand. Back to the topic; on weekends I prefer to be in Prés d'Orvin before 8AM and be done with my ride when the masses arrive. This year, I'm not able to leave this early, so I'm less inclined to drive up there. But, on a weekday like this Monday, the place isn't busy. Traffic is light, and parking is plentiful. The ski lifts were operating, but the slope wasn't busy. I decided to climb it for my first descent of the winter. The snow was great, but poor visibility due to heavy fog made descending challenging.

Once at the bottom, I turned west to climb towards the Place Centrale. The winter hiking trails were perfectly groomed all the way to the cross-country skiing center. From there, I had to hop on the ice-covered road for about a kilometer, until the winter hiking trail continued off to the left. The official winter hiking path, when groomed, makes a turn eastwards to bring people to the Place Centrale. To my surprise, that upper leg of the trail was missing. Fortunately for me, hordes of snowshoers had taken the straight way up the mountain on the weekend, leaving behind a perfectly rideable trail from bottom to top. I finally got out of the fog while getting up that climb. I dropped down on the northern side, rode the cross-country ski track for a few hundred meters, then took the straight way to the Métairie du Milieu de Bienne, where I hopped back on the cross-country ski track. It dropped me right off at the backside of the Chasseral. The climb to the antenna that followed wasn't rideable. It rarely is.

The best followed at that point; the crest trail eastwards back to the Place Centrale. It was rideable all the way, even some of the challenging drops that are formed by snow accumulation. The dropper seat post comes in handy along this trail. Each time the trail drops, I lower the dropper. Each time the trail is flat or has an incline, I move the saddle back to the top. After 3 years of usage, the thing needs to be serviced, though. Most droppers aren't user-serviceable and need to be sent in for service. I hate that. This is the main reason I've never and will never own a full-suspension bike or even a hardtail. I simply don't want parts on a bike that I can't easily service myself. Because a dropper post offers some real benefits, particularly for a fat-bike ridden in snow, I have one on my Snakedriver. I don't have one on any of my other bikes and decided not to equip my Stooge MK5 with one. A telescoping seat post will wear out even quicker than 3 years on a bike ridden on dusty or muddy trails.

This article was updated on December 21, 2021

Patrick

Mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals where I practice my religion; always on two wheels, no suspension and certainly no flipping motor.

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