Perfect Day at Cuyuna

Perfect Day at Cuyuna 1024 747 Carl Gammon

Pilot: Perfect Day at Cuyuna Season 1, Episode 1.
The following is a dramatization. Any likeness to actual persons living or deceased is coincidence, and though events are based on a true story, facts, locations, and dialogue are fictionalized… Sort of 😉
Background sound: heart pumping audibly and theme music from semi-annoying t.v. show like 24 or CSI:Miami

9:30p.m. Thurs 26 Jan., Brainerd: Telephone rings

 

The Wrench: Hi, it’s The Wrench…
Griggsy: The snow is better than it has EVER been at Sagamore. I mean you are just flyin’! We have to do this NOW! Where are you? Are you at work?!
The Wrench: In bed, watching Unlikely Animal Friends on Netflix. You wanna do this Sunday, or…
Griggsy: I heard Shaun is doing like 500 watts out there, just THROWING IT into corners, and averaging over 10mph. I mean he says this is like the best conditions EVER. Forecast predicts a little snow Monday and Tuesday, but leading up to Sunday the snowpack should stay the same. We need to do this NOW.
The Wrench: Okay, I’m on it. I need to update my equipment, maybe my boots, go clipless, and get maximum power transfer. I need to torque my cockpit controls… Do I need my tactical vest? Sunday?
Griggsy: Wheels up at 1:30. I’ll pick you up at 12:42… SHARP.
The Wrench: Oooo-kay.
Griggsy: BE READY.

Music sudden stop. Fade in playful folk with rambling beat.
Sunday 29 Jan 11:30 a.m. Brainerd
MONTAGE: The Wrench putting his cleats on his fatbiking boots, sipping coffee with determined ferocity, and falling over putting tights on.
Cue laugh track.
End dramatization.

This is the kind of life I lead. The epicenter of recreational bliss is the perfect bike ride. The pursuit seems superfluous at times, but once the rubber hits the road or the red dirt, or in this case, the snow, everything disappears. Yesterday was a ride that dreams are made of. With a packed base, and a week of warmer temperatures, the surface of the trails at Sagamore Unit of Cuyuna had firmed. It was a near gravel-like surface when it comes to rolling resistance.
If you don’t know where I am referring to, it is off on Sagamore Rd, immediate left after turning left onto Cty 59 (to Riverton) from Hwy 210, 7 miles past the Brainerd airport. There are roughly 7-8 miles of beginner to intermediate groomed fatbike or snowshoeing trails.
A healthy group showed up. The usuals: Matt S., Mike S., Dennis S., John S., Chuckles G., Chad H., Ron P., Doug J, and of course, The Wrench G.. We hit the fast straightaway with a good clip, kinda drafting, or pretending to. This was FAST for fatbikes. And the corners were grippier than usual, so you could really throw the bike around the tight ones. Usually, a much steadier bike-handling demeanor is necessary to safely navigate through corners to elude loose, soft snow which lines the borders of the groomed section. But not today. “Hero snow!” one rider exclaimed during the after-ride refreshment sesh.

*Pic Credit: Ron Plinske

My 4.0” Specialized Ground Control tires really performed exquisitely in this condition. Whereas in fluffy snow I need higher focus, the lower rotational mass and fast-rolling knobs helped to keep the inertia high with excellent grip. It certainly makes sense on race-bike specification. Most people were running pressures higher than normal to compensate. Specialized’s carbon Fatboys come stock with this tire, although a much larger tire can fit (I’ve seen 4.8” Bud and Lou on stock XC 90mm rims). If you are going to have just one set of tires for a variety of conditions, go somewhere in between, like 4.6”. So whether you are a racer or an adventurer (or both), it is possible to tailor the bike with tire choice for your chosen conditions for optimal performance. I digress, but the tire conversation is never-ending.
I felt better than good on this ride. With not much training this winter, I was able to stay in the first three positions the whole time, following the “attacks” put in by veteran fatbiker Matt S. I said later on that he was really pushing up the hills- making me work. He said he could hear breathing and tire roll behind him, which is his “cue to go.” I felt my new setup with fatbike-specific boots and clipless (old skool variant of “clipped”) pedals helped to increase power transfer and really kept my feet a lot more toasty. I attribute some of my climbing leg speed to this upgrade, and I don’t think I will go back to the flats/regular boots.
We rode the full catalogue of trails at Sagamore, and then did another section again because people wanted to PR (personal record) on a segment on Strava called H.S. team time trial. What I learned is we have a lot of fast kids on this team, snow or not!
Matt said there was a singletrack trail (all of Sagamore marked trails are double track) winding through the woods that he had personally packed down nicely on another Sunday. We found it with lots of pock marks from deer and/or hikers, but it was a nice technical challenge to contrast the fast-rolling main trail.
Just before heading back to the parking lot, we ran into a friendly couple we know, as well as a couple of friends well known to the MTB scene, and Strava leaderboards. Apparently, we were not alone in knowing about the perfect conditions at Sagamore Sunday, and I am thrilled that others got to enjoy it.
If you would like opportunities to ride fatbikes with cool, laid back people who are also very good on bikes, look out for posts on Facebook. I may also link to impromptu rides discussed on the Brainerd Lakes Fat Bikes page, and we will be sponsoring some of our own Life Cycle rides in the weeks to come. As always, if you need a bike, we have you covered. Call us anytime to reserve one, and mention this blog post for a special Sat-Mon rate. Also, see us/call if you have any questions regarding equipment mentioned in this post. Until next time, #findyourself and ride life. –The Wrench

About the Author
Carl Gammon is an avid cyclist who started riding and racing in his young teen years. Carl got his first start in the bicycle industry in a small bike shop in southern New Hampshire in 1997, and has been active in the cycling community in several locales across the United States. He now serves as Service Manager at Life Cycle and works with teens recycling bikes with Brainerd Baxter Youth Center. Carl is also an active member of the Paul Bunyan Cyclists bicycle club. You can contact him anytime at carl@ridelifecycle.com.

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