Rolling with Chip Baker

After watching Chip embark on a weekend of snow fun, immediately after picking up his new fat bike “Purplicious,” we asked him to share some of his adventures! He went above and beyond with this post – Thank you Chip!

Endless Winter

I didn’t intend to buy a fat bike this winter. Typically, I will ride all winter on the cross bike on the road or enjoy snowshoeing in the woods. New England winters are weird. Some winters in the Boston area seem like Spring. Last year it barely snowed. I rode the mountain bike most of winter no problem. But this year we got snow. And good snow! A friend lent me his Surly Ice Cream truck and it was like a gateway drug.

I have always been a fan of Surly Bikes. I love fat bikes. I guess they are like powder skis or a big wave surfboard. You might not use it all season but in the right conditions, it is like no other experience on two wheels. When the conditions are just right it is a combination of a luge track and a skate park. It makes you feel like a kid all over again. After two weeks riding my friends’ bike, I was hooked. I became obsessed with getting a fat bike. But I knew it would not be easy as bikes were sold out and parts were really hard to come by.

After riding over and talking to Steve and Kristin I learned there was a chance I could get a bike. I was so stoked. As luck (or fate) would have it a frame popped up on Steve’s radar. It wasn’t an Ice Cream Truck like the one I borrowed but a purple Wednesday.

Now purple is literally my favorite color for a bike. My first real mountain bike was a purple Bridgestone MB-3. It was steel and it was perfect. The Wednesday is a steel fat bike named after Wednesday Adams. It also is one of the names Odin was called. Wednesday is Odin’s Day. True Story. This bike could not be more perfect for me.

But where to find parts? While Steve checked his sources, I was sending texts, emails, and DMs non-stop to friends and others after we ordered the frame to find parts. With a little help from my friends, it all came together. It is the most perfect Frankenbuild I have ever laid eyes on.

Steve and I may have created a new trend in fat biking. I am coining it the Fat Bike Mullet. The only wheels (literally the only wheels that were available anywhere) were a “set” of Whisky rims to DT hubs. Beautiful wheels. What makes them a mullet is that the rear rim is 70mm wide while the front is 100mm wide. The tires are the sure-footed 45NRTH Dunderbeist/Flowbeist 4.6. What is cool is that it makes the front tire a bit wider and plusher, while the rear is a tad lighter and snappier. Perfect for the type of riding style I use in the woods. Woods biking in the snow to me is just like surfing. That is what makes it so fun. This setup lets me just float over so much terrain.

As I said earlier Steve pulled this off by some kind of miracle. I honestly thought this would not come together. But he got all the parts and then built the bike for me in time to do Larry’s Wicked Nor’Easter.

A little background – In 2015, three New England promoters (me, Colin Reuter and Mike O’Connell) had big plans to put on fat bike races. But only one of us, Mike and his Rock Hard Racing crew got it done.

Mike is probably the best bike event promoter in this region. No one works harder than him to put on a super fun event. And in the case of that fateful first Larry’s Wicked Nor’Easter it was no joke. That season we had 108.6 inches of snow. It made it the snowiest season on record. So, whereas Colin and I pulled the plug and canceled our events because of too much snow, Mike went all in and made his happen. It was a huge hit.

This year, Mike decided to hold his event as a DIY self-guided event. He went out and set the course. He put signs and arrows so you could follow easily. We had some fresh snow this past week so he and a whole crew went out and packed it down. That is a labor of love. Ten people out in the woods on snowshoes packing down the track so a bunch of fat bikers could have a great time in the woods.

I have only ridden in Borderland once before. It gets the nickname Boulderland and it lives up to its moniker. I was a little nervous to be honest. But Mike arrowed the course so well and put-up Jolly Roger signs to alert you to danger.

Oh, life lesson, when Mike says a section is dangerous believe him.

I walked both of the danger zones. My first fat bike, which I bought in 2015, rode like a tank. But my new Surly rides like my mountain bike. It has modern mountain bike trail geometry. I was flying over the course at Borderland. The bike just handles so well.

Anyone who knows me knows I am not so great at bridges. They are pretty much my kryptonite. So, I am flying along this luge track through the woods of Borderland on the course when I see a snow-covered bridge. I am up on it and have a not-so-great line. In my mind, I am like uh oh. I go flying off it into a rock garden. I assume this is it I am going to crash hard. But the bike just floated over the rocks and back into the snowy track without even a hiccup.

HUGE thanks to Steve the Bike Guy for making “Purplicious” (a perfect name and the title of a book that was once a favorite of my daughter) happen. It is such a gift to be able to ride out this Endless Winter on such a nice bike. I hope we get some more snow and that we can put together some more events like Larry’s Wicked Nor’Easter. These DIY Self-Guided events really have been a silver lining of this challenging time.

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