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Blog #9: Wolves, Fat Bike, and Cable WI

Wolf Pup Caught on Camera During Night Fat Bike Guided Tour
Wolf Pup
Wolves and the Night Fatbike Guided Tour
Wolves and the Night Fatbike Guided Tour

In mid-September of 2016 our shop offered a free night Fatbike guided tour to the local off-road cycling community of Cable, WI. I ran van support and shot four pictures in rapid succession of the tour as it headed my way. Two of the four, the Wolf pictures, are shown above.

It was around 10:30 at night, and I could see the riders’ lights coming towards me, so I climbed down from the van with camera in hand, and started walking towards the riders. When the riders were about a football field’s length from me, I stopped and started shooting pictures. The first and the second shots were the “Wolf Pup” and then the “Wolves” pictures, in that order. The 3rd and 4th shots simply showed headlamps getting closer to me, no animals were depicted.

The guides and tour participants stopped when they got to where I was standing, we conversed, they hydrated, and they completed the tour while I headed back to the shop to await their arrival. The tour was successfully completed by around 11:30 pm, I got up to our cabin in the hills a few miles North of where the pictures were taken by about 12:45, and then I proceeded to take my dogs for a 15 minute walk. Totally bushed, I grabbed a sleeping bag and headed out to our rear screened-in deck to sleep on a recliner. That deck is suspended over our backyard by around 12 ft.

At approximately 1:45 AM I was awoken by a howl, and then for about 35 seconds I experienced all the audio imaginable of hovering over a stampede of wild animals. It was incredibly intense, totally exhilarating, and completely life affirming. My sincere feeling is that if I was at ground level during those 35 seconds, this 1st hand report would not have been possible.

Irrespective of all the exhilaration I fell back asleep easily and did not wake up until later the next morning. When I got up I took a cursory, gallery glance at the pictures I took, selected the one that had the clearest view of the on-coming bike lights, and posted it on social media. About a year later I was looking for some older content for posting purposes and finally took a real look at the four pictures, including the two Wolf pictures. Yes, I got lucky, but there is more at play here.

My understanding is that there are two packs in the hills of Cable, each of which has approximately 13 members. The rules of thumb during an encounter with a large predator are to make yourself look big, make noise, provide the animal with ways out, provide the animal with space, and to not turn your back. In practice we do not make a ton of noise, nor do we scare the animal, but we do make ourselves look bigger, and we do whisper things like “I’m just going to go around you, no harm intended,” etc.

But what to do when you encounter a stealth pack of wolves? First, DON’T GO HIKING IN THESE WOODS ALONE AT NIGHT. But second, know that a night bike rider has a couple real advantages over Wolves. Wolves do not like bikes and they do not like night illumination. Bike-wise, not sure if it’s the metal, shininess, moving parts, bike speed, bike noise, etc. In any case these Wolves got out of the way of our bike tour, which is the same experience I had with Mexican Wolves in the early morning light on the Goat Trails of Palm Springs, CA back in the Spring of 2010. They saw me on bike and hightailed it to from where they came. Illumination-wise, light at night is simply not natural, it freaks them out. Bike and illumination saved me during the first encounter of that evening in September of 2016.

I have not seen or heard the Wolves in the hills of Cable since then, although I have heard them at night down by the lakes. They are amazing animals and help to make Cable the wilderness that it is to this very day. Make no mistake, we take the lessons from our experiences very seriously, and those lessons are the foundation of Up North Guided Tours.

For a real wilderness experience, with the right guide, look no further. See more @ www.UpNorthGuidedTours.com; and call 715/413-2076.

#wilderness; #fatbike; #wolves; #cableWI; #upnorthguidedtours

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Blog #7: Fat Bike, Falling w/o Getting Hurt

Fat Bike Enduro Feature

Fat Bike Enduro Feature
Rode it all the time, then one slippery day, I lost momentum and fell backwards down it!

Ok, the title is a bit of a misnomer, but calling a blog Minimizing your Chances of Getting Hurt When U Fall Off Your Fatbike is lame.  Now in a serious tone, any seasoned mountain biker knows there are some falls you take where you simply have no time to react.  We, as off-road cyclists, know those falls have to be taken as they come, even though we take pre-cautions and ride under control (a relative, case-by-case term that is based on our individual abilities).  After all, we love the challenges of our sport, but we all know it comes with known dangers.  I have a chipped tooth I never had fixed as my example.

All that said and forgetting bad arial landings and Red Bull stuff, there are 3 ways to fall when riding Fat/MTB/BMX Bike: over the handlebars, to either side, and the worst, straight backwards.  The purpose of this Blog is to discuss techniques to minimize the likelihood of getting hurt under each scenario.  Under all three, the most important take away is to keep your body loose and flexible w/ some bend to your knees, ankles, elbows, and wrists.  Think about the difference b/w landing on a foot with a rigid vs. a bent knee.  There are a lot more ways medically for things to go wrong when our joints are locked.  Also, please note that our human reaction when falling is to get back to the ground as quickly as possible, which makes us want to stretch out our leg, effectively locking the joint, just to make contact one second sooner.  Further, we have to scan the ground we are falling on so we are prepared for the surface we are landing on.  That quick, in real-time, scan can be the difference b/w twisting an ankle and riding away.

Over the Bars.  Very simply: head back, torso upright, let go of the handlebars, and step over the bars off the bike with the foot that is in the 12:00 to 3:00 position.  Keep that knee bent into making contact with the ground, your other leg and foot will follow leaving your bike behind you.

To Either Side.  Bend the leg on the side you are falling to and keep that ankle loose but ready for contact with the ground.  At the same time you need to visually scan the terrain you are landing in so you are prepared for your first foot to make contact with the ground and you are aware of rocks and other natural features below.  Remember, you, with a change of your own body weight distribution as you are falling, can redirect where your feet and hands actually land.  It all happens quick, but the idea is to land on the most solid piece of ground as possible.  Keep that knee bent, wait for your first foot to get to the ground.

The Dreaded Backwards.  Very steep, close to vertical, but short inclines taken at speed with momentum are great gravity features, but misjudging same and not having enough momentum, can be disastrous.  Nose of the seat in your spine or up your ass when that rear tire gets to level ground…  Nasty stuff.  Point here is that you have to re-direct your body weight as you are rolling backwards to either side of the bike or to the side you are naturally falling to as dictated by the terrain you are riding.  Then follow the To Either Side routine.

It’s nice to be able to write this stuff down and have you folks read it, but the reality is that the foregoing has to be thought about and actually practiced while falling to be truly effective.  It can become like 2nd Nature.  Not saying we want to take you out on a Fatbike Falling Adventure, but we can help you hone your Fatbike skills by practicing advanced techniques, while having fun.  Contact josh@upnorthguidedtours.com or 715/413-2076 and see www.upnorthguidedtours.com for more.  Thanks for reading!

#fatbike #fattirebikes #upnorthguidedtours #fatbikesafety