Crossing the Bözingenberg west to east.
Crossing the Bözingenberg.

Fat-Biking On Little

There’s not much snow left on our Jura mountains. Despite the mild temperatures, what was left, fortunately, melted only slowly during the week. Likely thanks to the dry air. It’s the end of January, and it has never felt wintery so far. If we don’t get any winter storms in the coming weeks, like other parts of the world are experiencing right now, winter may very well be over at the end of February or even before. I’m trying to make the best out of it by riding the still snow-covered hillsides in my backyard. It means that I have to ride my studded tires on pavement and gravel for a couple of miles to and from snow-covered trails. I do this carefully. Studded fat-bike tires aren’t cheap after all. At the moment, they’re very needed since a lot of the trails have ice on them.

Yesterday, I decided to visit the Bözingenberg. The northern side of it, as well as the whole valley of Vauffelin, don’t see much sun during these months. The other weekend, when I drove to les Prés d’Orvin, for instance, it was -10ºC in Vauffelin while it was about +1ºC in Prés d’Orvin. Sure enough, I spent the whole way on snow. Crossing the Bözingenberg west to east brought ever-changing snow conditions. South-western facing slopes were often slushy. Flatter, sun-exposed patches often had no or little snow. Eastern facing slopes or wooded areas were all still covered with crunchy snow. Speaking of studs, the last mile to get home I pop onto the Grenchenberg road. Going downhill and entering Grenchen I arrive with quite some speed. Fat-bike tires with huge knobs are loud, to begin with, add metals studs, and you’re likely the loudest vehicle that comes down the hill all day. Not surprisingly, every pedestrian on the sidewalk turns around to see what’s approaching.

In other news, I’m glad to have a MacBook Pro again. The small Chuwi Larkbox mini PC I bought in the fall of 2020 has been giving me trouble the past couple of months. When it started, I decided to backup everything to the cloud. I reinstalled Windows a couple of times, which temporarily fixed the problems, but they became more frequent, and now the unit seems toast. Although the Larkbox had a small internal fan, I think heat management may have been the issue that led to its failure. While I now do most things on my MacBook, like typing this post, there are a few things for which software on Windows is easier to find. Since I don’t need a powerful nor expensive PC, I decided to buy a 2.8” mini PC under the name "ZX01". This PC is equipped with a much newer generation of processor than the J4105 of the Larkbox, an Intel Celeron N5105 Jasper Lake. The ZX01 is slightly larger, has two HDMI ports, and hopefully better cooling. It’s somewhat a mystery who the manufacturer behind it is. The ZX01 is primarily sold through AliExpress, which I have been using more and more frequently. Need titanium bolts for your bike? Check AliExpress. Need PC accessories or other electronics? Check AliExpress. Often, you find the same things that Swiss vendors sell in their online shops for a third of the price or even less. I’m taking a bit of a risk with a nice-looking mini PC, with good specs but unknown origin. I also bought a 2.5” hard drive enclosure for a few bucks. It’s for an old drive that sits inside of an enclosure with Firewire ports. Remember Firewire? Lastly, I got a small USB enclosure for the M.2 2242 SSD I pulled out of my Chuwi Larkbox. Cost? 12 bucks including shipping.