The Pink Rubber Effect

5 12 2015

Given the choice between riding and writing about riding, it’s no wonder that I’ve been choosing the former for my sparse spare time lately. When I last checked into this blog, I was just beginning to explore fatbiking. In the interim, I’ve had a lot of fun on those four inch tires, and have got more spring, summer, and fall mileage than I ever expected.

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This is what happens when you try to commute by fatbike.

On a fat bike, the journey between two points is never a straight line.

With winter approaching, however, I had to be honest with myself. As much as the fatbike is the best thing ever on snow, it’s the worst thing ever when it turns to ice. I needed studded tires if I didn’t want to be slip sliding falling around between snow storms.
And so it started innocently enough, searching for reasonably priced tires that I could put studs in and wouldn’t suck for winter.

Here is how it turned out:

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My already flashy fatbike is now predominantly shocking pink.

I’m already used to this bike getting a lot of attention, but I didn’t foresee what would happen next.

The day after changing the tires over my boyfriend and I went out for dinner where we sat beside the window to keep an eye on our locked bikes. Watching the passersby we witnessed many double and triple takes, people stopping dead in their tracks to turn around to get another look, people getting so distracted that they tripped or bumped into other folks. As the new pink rubber glowed in the darkness, I wondered what exactly I had created, while the boy wondered if its mere appearance could cause a car accident.

The next day, the snow began.

Working late across town, I had the bright idea of taking the scenic route home through 8″ of fresh snow, forgetting how much extra effort that would actually take.

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Scenic route

I was less than halfway home before starting to feel the bonk, and by the time I was off the trail and back onto relatively easier car packed snow, I was struggling not to collapse. The streets otherwise deserted, a pickup pulled up to a 4-way stop sign just ahead of me, to my right. Taking a moment to catch my breath, I waited for the pickup to go, but it didn’t move. I motioned to the driver to go, as he clearly had the right of way. Stillness. Finally he rolled down his window.

“Go ahead,” I said, motioning again.

“No,” he said, “You go. I want to check out your cool bike!”

Momentarily stunned by his words, the likes of which I’d never had directed at me from a driver during a snow storm, I wobbled forward in front of his truck.

“Awesome tires!”

“Thanks,” I said, as I waved and trudged on.

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The fatbike rolls beautifully over the oatmeal snow that currently infests all of the side streets while the colour scheme pops from the grey winter scenery. So I’ve been riding it a lot lately.

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The other day, I was riding past a playground. A family was trying to enjoy a sunny winter day, except for a screaming, crying toddler. As I slowed and redirected to give them a wide berth, the older child caught sight of me.

“Look at the bike!”

Then the adult, “Oh, look at the bike!”

And then, silence.

I slowed my pace right down to stretch out the moment, wondering what other strange powers beyond quelling tantrums these giant pink tires bestowed.

As I said, I’m used to people commenting on or asking me about my fatbike. Though 80% of the comments amount to “that looks good for winter” and “that must be hard to pedal,” they are still overwhelmingly positive. Since the makeover, I’ve heard “nice tires,” a lot, but some of the reactions have been much less predictable.

Waiting at a red light, a random dude crosses the street in front of me.

“Nice tires!”

“Thanks.”

“They look really tastey.”

“Huh?”

“Like, I could eat them! I want to eat your tires!”

“Um…”

“Mmmmmmmm! Yum yum yum!”

At which point, the line between funny and creepy being crossed, I jumped the red light.

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