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Fall Fatbiking

This past Sunday was a cool, dreary fall day - light off-and-on drizzle, occasional sun, temps in the low 50's. The Vikings were also playing the Packers here in town, so the critters were the only things out and about in the metro area. I took the opportunity to head out to a section of the Mississippi river I had been scoping as potentially rideable on the Mukluk to "un-plug" from the suburban jungle and get lost in the woods.

bike shot

The wooded flood plains adjacent to the river offer prime riding in the fall. These forests transform into giant empty rooms with sand dune floors covered in a carpet of  freshly fallen leaves. Dead trees and timber are strewn about. A yellow and orange leafy ceiling covers the entire space, held up by massive oak and cottonwood  trunks. Moving through these enormous trail-less spaces on a fat bike is quite a unique experience. The freedom of not having to follow a road, trail, or path is something not usually experienced on a bicycle. Riding fat bikes on snow in the winter is awesome, but it's this overland fall riding that I really enjoy doing the most on the Mukluk.

forest

We've had a really dry fall here in Minnesota, so the rivers are very low. There are miles of exposed banks and beaches to ride along. The water is so low that I was able to ford through ankle-to-knee deep channels and hop between several islands that are usually not this easily accessible.

fording

The water was about the same temp as the air. I took my shoes and socks off at each crossing and was able to stay pleny dry and warm in between.

shoeing

The islands were full of deer. I'm not sure what spooked this deer, but I was taking a picture of two other deer when the three of us heard it bounding towards us through the woods. The other two deer took off, and I snapped a picture as the incoming one passed by.

doe

feather

I also saw one owl, a few eagles passing by, and there was a lot of old and new sign of beaver. It's amazing how many dead trees I've seen still standing along the river on these type of rides, the bases half chewed out. I wonder if the beavers get preyed upon before they can finish, or if they just forget? Perhaps the water levels change and push them to different areas? Fortunately for this large cottonwood, it was able to keep growing. 

tree

I highlight of my ride was when I happend across a large rub on a four-inch diameter tree. Only big whitetail bucks rub on trees this size.

rub

About three pedal strokes after I took the above picture I awoke the apparent source.

buck

Being that I was downwind when I stirred the buck, he didn't go far. With me not moving, and him not being able to smell me, he was reluctant to leave. We hung out about 40 feet apart for five minutes. Eventually he cautiously (and knowingly) slid around to put me upwind where he could smell me. At that point, he had the upper hand, so I left him on his own and went on my way.

selfportrait

The only thing I didn't unplug from was the GPS app on my phone (and my camera I suppose). I turned on the airplane mode to kill the phone, but the GPS app can still record position. Later that night I downloaded the track and it indicated my ride lasted a little over three hours, and I covered only eight miles. My average moving speed was only about 5 mph, and moving time was only 95 minutes. The other hour and half of my ride was spent not riding...

...it was one of my favorite rides of the year so far.

This post filed under topics: Fatbike Mukluk Pete Koski

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Pete Koski

Hi, I'm Pete and I am a product development engineer for Salsa. I like all kinds of riding from commuting to dirt jumping. I think flat pedals make you a better bike handler, that the thru-axle is vastly superior to the quick-release for off-road applications, and that moving through the world on bicycle allows one to see things they might not otherwise. I suffer daily from hunger-induced anger, also known as hanger. Outside of work and riding, I enjoy kiteboarding, traveling, and watching hockey.

COMMENTS (23)

Tim Ek | October 28th, 2011

Pete, you totally “get it”. And, that’s so cool!

PR | October 28th, 2011

The beavers have been crazy busy on the South East side.  Great shots and looks like a great “ride”

alangunn | October 28th, 2011

Awesome.  This is what fatbiking is about.

Tanner | October 28th, 2011

The Life.

Brendan | October 28th, 2011

I saw the Nate tracks going through the creek I wasn’t brave enough with my lary’s and had to walk the tree. Sweet pictures.

Guitar Ted | October 28th, 2011

Awesome. I do similar rides here on my Mukluk. I stopped and watched an immature Bald Eagle soar over my head for 10 minutes the other day. I have stare downs with deer too. Fun stuff.

Herringbone | October 28th, 2011

Even if I didn’t ride a bike that was great. Chilling in the woods. Great pictures and commentary.

Allen Beauchamp | October 29th, 2011

Beautiful shots of your ride, thank you for unplugging and capturing the essence of the experience!

Matt Kretchmar | October 29th, 2011

Thanks for the inspiring report.  I just got my Mukluk and enjoyed a similar “non ride” exploring state forests in PA last weekend.

Mike | October 29th, 2011

Awesome.  Wish I could get.me a fatbike and do the same kinda riding.  Great photos, especially that huge bucky.

Tommy | October 30th, 2011

Cool article, beautiful photos. But hey one thing jumped out at me. What kind of rims are those? Did you have them painted/paint them yourself? They look sick! (although I can’t tell what color they are lol black and white looks good enough for me).

Adventure Monkey | October 31st, 2011

Sweet writeup. It’s all about getting outside and enjoying the beauty and wonder around us. Thanks for the reminder.

PK | October 31st, 2011

Tommy,
Yes, I painted the rims myself - 2 coats of metallic silver rattle can over the black ano rim masked with 2in blue painters tape. Actually pretty quick and easy to do. The rims themselves are a proto Rolling Darryl that never made production. (I have connections within the Surly engi-nerding department.)
-PK

Cara | October 31st, 2011

Thanks for sharing this, it’s pretty sweet Pete! My fav so far :) That’s a crazy buck pic, I love the feather, and I hope you frame the last one!

samh | October 31st, 2011

Urban and suburban exploring can unveil some amazing sights, sounds, and thoughts.  Way to get after it.

Errin | November 1st, 2011

Great post.

chris | November 2nd, 2011

Thank you for taking the time to share that ride, it great when you see some old friends on the trail.  Thanks to you tonight I am going to get out on my mukluk and enjoy the Tucson Arizona desert. On my rides Coyotes, desert tortoise,bobcats,  White tale / mule deer and Gila monsters are my company.  Desert washes are a great place for a fatbike.  This was a great post to remind us all to take time to go on an adventure, life really is beautiful when you give it a chance. Thanks again, cheered me up to read this.

Seth | November 3rd, 2011

Solitary bliss. I’m going to take the fat bike out tonite, a very small state park is all I have in east SD, but even such a small 30 minute loop through the rolling hills of forest gives me a soft reset on a busy week.

Charlie The Bikemonger | November 4th, 2011

Lovely picture, great mini adventure. Very inspiring… so much so I am going to do this on our fatbike as soon as it stops raining, probably at night, as I find there is a lot more wildlife at night. Really enjoyed this one… thanks.

Tommy | November 4th, 2011

Thanks for taking the time PK, very cool!

alex morgan | November 6th, 2011

great shots and ride. ill be rebloging.

james packer | November 9th, 2011

great photos and write up, pk. wow. love the black and white - totally captures what your ride was all about - getting away for a bit - being simple. what app did you use to track your ride? and great call on going into airplane mode - perfect.

did | November 22nd, 2011

Brought my Mukluk 2 home last night. Just got home from my first ride - 4 miles to the Lake Michigan beach, an unknown distance up the beach and back, several perplexed fishermen at the beach parking lot, and 4 miles back home, all after dark. Grinning like an idiot.

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