On the weekend of January 13th and 14th, snow covered the trails almost to my house. I did a 3-hour ride across the Bözingenberg on Saturday, the 13th, and a 4-hour loop across Plagne and the Stierenberg on Sunday, the 14th. Warm weather and rain during the week pushed the snowline up several hundred meters. Luckily, the mercury dropped below zero on Friday and remained there for the weekend.
On the 20th, I had to catsit all day and worked on my Nordest Albarda. The bike received the new 700C wheels and seatpost from my Marin. I also exchanged the Zipp Service Course SL stem. An older gloss-black one made room for a new one in matte-black. I also installed new rotors - the Bucklos Centerlock rotors I mentioned in my previous post. I am stoked about the result. The bike went through several iterations since 2019, and this is the best one yet. On Sunday, I had to do something about my cabin fever. I drove to Prés d’Orvin before sunrise to fat-bike the snow-covered mountains. It was an epic morning. I did not see another human being for several hours. I had that icy winter wonderland all to myself. A bluish sky to the north and a cloudy one to the south created some unreal colors.
Utilizing my expertise in reading snow, intimate knowledge of the terrain, and keen awareness of how the wind shapes, moves, and hardens the large snow surfaces to the north of the peak, I navigated my way to the Chasseral. This is the ultimate essence of fat-biking for me. It is not sufficient to just be a skilled mountain biker who studies GPS tracks, elevation profiles, and maps to fully enjoy fat-biking in a country that has never fully embraced the sport. Understanding how the winter alters the local environment is crucial. This element of the sport is something you don’t need on the road, on gravel, or dirt. However, it is a huge part of what makes fat-biking so addictive.
I have stopped doing end-of-year reviews. There just aren’t any epic adventures to look back to since I cannot venture beyond my local area to explore new trails or roads. While I used to go on 56-57 fat-bike rides annually from 2017 to 2019, I have only done three snow rides in 2023. The difference? I used to be able to load my fat bike into the car and drive 10-30 minutes to trailheads at higher elevations. In terms of the total number of rides I took in 2023, I only managed 100, which is a far cry from my peak between 2016 and 2018, when I averaged 165 rides per year. Out of those 100 rides, 72 were on pavement, sometimes with a bit of gravel mixed in. My annual ride distance and time have reached an all-time low, with only 3,147 kilometers and 193 hours, compared to my peak in 2018 when I rode 8,752 kilometers and spent a staggering 586 hours in the saddle. My goal for the years ahead is to gradually get back to that level, maybe as early as 2026.