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  1. #1
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    Fatbikes are for Ice

    Many races this year in the upper Midwest have been heavily modified/cancelled due to icy conditions. These decisions have been made in the name of "safety."

    Sorry, but I have been riding all winter and in winters past in the same icy conditions. Riding well on ice requires two things.

    1. Proper Equipment/Setup
    2. Skill

    If people don't have both of those things, that's on them, and they won't do well in icy races.

    I for one would like to find out who among us is fastest on an icy course.

  2. #2
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    It doesn't take much snow to make fatbiking fun, but a little snow on ice is about the worst possible conditions you can ever encounter. Your studs won't punch through and it's the slickest surface (way beyond water on ice) I've ever experienced. Straight ice is better, but still not a ton of fun, especially off-camber. It takes very little angle on the trail to totally screw you with studded tires. They work infinitely better than non-studded tires, but as far as racing or navigating a lot of terrain, it's still not going to work. When huge overflow sections appear here they can still be impassible with studded tires.

    But crazy how one part of the country has to sacrifice for the other. In Alaska we got a decent winter, after two miserable ones with very little snow and very warm temps. It's melting now, since we are starting to get that daytime sun, but we have a good deal of snow still on the ground and it's not going anywhere that fast.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  3. #3
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    Completely agree about a bit of snow on top of ice being the toughest conditions. But to my point, that is part of fatbiking in winter. I just would like to see races held in pretty much any conditions so long as it isn't damaging the trail underneath the snow/ice. Varying conditions are what winter fatbiking is all about, and races should reflect and require certain skills and abilities.

  4. #4
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    Too much risk for the race promoters?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shark View Post
    Too much risk for the race promoters?
    I would think so, risk of broken bones would be many times greater, even with studded tires. Most of the time I've been out there on the glare-ice I haven't organized group rides, because of that reason and how many people are simply not going to have fun fighting the conditions the entire time. Slight uphills and downhills become extremely challenging and what is ridable otherwise can be downright unsafe.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shark View Post
    Too much risk for the race promoters?
    Absolutely too much risk for the promoter. They would be sued left and right by injured riders.

    Sorry, but I have been riding all winter and in winters past in the same icy conditions. Riding well on ice requires two things.

    1. Proper Equipment/Setup
    2. Skill
    Except:

    1.) Riding is not racing.
    2.) Physics will trump skill. Going up and down 12%+ grades like they have on the Birkie course would have everyone falling. Those hills make for 30+mph descents when slowed by snow. Trees make for an abrupt stop when hit.

    This guy is all in though


  7. #7
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    Yes, a race like the Birkie is its own animal. I agree that at some point the physics just become too much.

    Maybe I have been to one too many gnarly cyclocross races. Those races can get pretty unsafe if the conditions get bad.

  8. #8
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    I prefer a 29 x 2.25 studded tire like the Schwalbe Ice Spiker Pro for pure ice.

    Studs on fat bike tires are spaced too far apart

    YMMV

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueCheesehead View Post
    Absolutely too much risk for the promoter. They would be sued left and right by injured riders.
    And therein lies the problem. I guess participants can't be expected to do things like read the weather report, know the conditions the are getting into, and accept some ****ing responsibility for themselves. Or not. I get sick of promoters being blamed and/or sued for situations or conditions that any grown adult should be able to assess, and make their own conscious decisions about engaging in, or not.

    But of course this speaks to a much more widespread societal problem. Never mind - everyone return to their "safe spaces."
    “I dream of a day when my children will live in a world without the shackles of cause and effect.” - S. Colbert


  10. #10
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    No need to cancel events because of presence ice in my opinion. Unless of course, you're really concerned with your event being fat bike only because you're in it for the fashion and not interested in letting people show up on the most appropriate bike for the conditions.

    Birkie is an exception to that because of the rules regarding bikes on groomed ski trails. It's my understanding that the Birkie is held on wide, groomed trails. They can scarify icy ski trails to make them less icy. You can also inform people of the danger and demand that they bring traction devices for their feet and run studded tires. Yes, factory studded tires will slide down 12%+ slopes when locked up, but they'll do it reasonably slowly. The people with a lot of grip studs or kold kutters will have the advantage.

    Is it the popularity of trail grooming that's turning fat bikers into wimps or is it just that fat biking is popular enough that we have as many of them as any other major cycling demographic? Cancelling a race because it's icy???

  11. #11
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    Glad someone has the exact same feelings as me.

    I think we have gotten so many new fat riders in the last couple of years and they don't know anything other than groomed perfect trails. This winter I have witnessed tons of riders quitting mid ride if the trails are a bit tough.

    I appreciate your point about running a setup that is beyond the factory ready versions of "studs". I run a massive Kold Kutter setup and it is so much better than any factory studded tire.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by sean salach View Post
    No need to cancel events because of presence ice in my opinion. Unless of course, you're really concerned with your event being fat bike only because you're in it for the fashion and not interested in letting people show up on the most appropriate bike for the conditions.

    Birkie is an exception to that because of the rules regarding bikes on groomed ski trails. It's my understanding that the Birkie is held on wide, groomed trails. They can scarify icy ski trails to make them less icy. You can also inform people of the danger and demand that they bring traction devices for their feet and run studded tires. Yes, factory studded tires will slide down 12%+ slopes when locked up, but they'll do it reasonably slowly. The people with a lot of grip studs or kold kutters will have the advantage.

    Is it the popularity of trail grooming that's turning fat bikers into wimps or is it just that fat biking is popular enough that we have as many of them as any other major cycling demographic? Cancelling a race because it's icy???
    Next thing you know the will cancel a race because it is too cold.

    For tires and wheel combo. Snowcats or Velocity Duallys Nokian/Suomi Hakkapeliitta Freddiez Revenz or Schwalbe Ice Spiker Pros.
    But if you have to run fat 3.8+ like Salcha said Kold Kutters or lots of Grip Studs.
    ptarmigan hardcore

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smithhammer View Post
    And therein lies the problem. I guess participants can't be expected to do things like read the weather report, know the conditions the are getting into, and accept some ****ing responsibility for themselves. Or not. I get sick of promoters being blamed and/or sued for situations or conditions that any grown adult should be able to assess, and make their own conscious decisions about engaging in, or not.

    But of course this speaks to a much more widespread societal problem. Never mind - everyone return to their "safe spaces."
    Not everyone has the intimate knowledge of riding and racing that you do, some people will sign and show up with minimal experience and understanding. Is the idea just F-em, or is there some level of responsibility for the organizer? I organize and take people on rides, but at some point I have to realize something may be above their level, I don't tell them "F-you, you're on your own", I have to consider the entire cross-section of who may show up. In some cases, I have to modify the ride, in some cases we have to have someone ride out with the person who gets in over their head. It may seem simple and obvious to you, but sometimes people show up lacking a certain piece of equipment or gear that we know is necessary. The race promoter also wants to make sure that the ride has enough people involved to offset the advertising, course marshaling, course marking, involvement of any local authorities and groups, cleanup, timing equipment, prizes, and so on. If the advertisement is only for those "hardcore" guys that will come out no matter what, the 20 people that show up won't offset the costs and all the support. Those 20 people should go off and have their own "grass-roots" race if they want it so bad.

    Some people show up with a family or loved one thinking that it's going to be a fun event. They aren't as aware of the risk of breaking bones. Although this partially has to do with who invited them or convinced them to do it, it's ultimately going to be on them and the race promoter.

    I just don't think your post is rooted in reality. We had to cancel a few races last year just due to the same issues. I'd rather not break my leg or arm, even though I consider myself to be a pretty good rider. There's having fun, and then there's just being stupid, which racing in glare-ice conditions can be.

    It really sounds like the conditions favor a regular mountain bike with studded tires, as those work much better than fat-bike tires with studs. I've ridden both and can definitely attest to the 1st being far better. On a fatbike, it's just "so-so", so it gets even harder to have your "fatbike race", although I do like lowering the pressure way down to take the edge off all the ice formations (but watch out for those rims!).

    I'm against frivolous lawsuits and the crazy stuff that happens when people sue, I think almost everyone is, but it's a tough situation, it's also hard to sometimes take ourselves out of the "I'm an excellent rider and everyone else should be as good as me, so let's do it!" attitude. I have to think that the conditions are pretty bad right now, like what we experienced last year, again, there were a few races canceled due to conditions.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

    You're turning black metallic.

  14. #14
    Jammin' Econo
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    Quote Originally Posted by Co-opski View Post
    Next thing you know the will cancel a race because it is too cold.
    Exactly. What happens when someone gets frostbite? Is that the race organizer's fault too? How about when someone crashes during a downhill race? If you're in a CX race and there's a pile-up due to mud, is that someone's 'fault' other than your own?
    “I dream of a day when my children will live in a world without the shackles of cause and effect.” - S. Colbert


  15. #15
    Jammin' Econo
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    Not everyone has the intimate knowledge of riding and racing that you do, some people will sign and show up with minimal experience and understanding.
    I think promoters have a responsibility to provide accurate information about the course, conditions and realistic hazards prior to the race. AND participants have the responsibilty to actually read this, take it seriously, do their own homework, and ultimately to be responsible for themselves out there. There is simply no way that a promoter/organizer can reasonably and realistically be held responsible for everyone who may hurt themselves in some random way. And if we continue down this path, then it will be the death of such events, period.

    I just don't think your post is rooted in reality. We had to cancel a few races last year just due to the same issues. I'd rather not break my leg or arm, even though I consider myself to be a pretty good rider. There's having fun, and then there's just being stupid, which racing in glare-ice conditions is.
    My post is rooted in the "reality" of having taken part in many events in which I could have hurt myself, gotten cold, gotten hot, gotten lost, etc. NEVER would it have occurred to me to blame the promoter/organizer for that if it had happened. NEVER. The problem is that this mentality of self-responsibility isn't considered to be "rooted in reality" anymore...
    “I dream of a day when my children will live in a world without the shackles of cause and effect.” - S. Colbert


  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smithhammer View Post
    Exactly. What happens when someone gets frostbite? Is that the race organizer's fault too? How about when someone crashes during a downhill race? If you're in a CX race and there's a pile-up due to mud, is that someone's 'fault' other than your own?
    Of course not, but was the course information available?, was an excessively dangerous section marked? Did the course markings keep you on the right track and not lead you somewhere that was dangerous and not intended? Were there last minute changes or differences to the course that people are not aware of? Was the course generally the same difficulty throughout or was there somewhere that needed extra caution and awareness? What you bring would be rare if non-existent to see anyone ever sue over, but I can think of half a dozen situations if the race organizers didn't brief or cover that could cause a bad situation for someone that would be completely unaware.

    The best litmus test is to ask if the level of rider that is racing could be expected to reasonably complete the race without adverse risk or hazard. If you can't say yes for the beginners, you have to cancel the beginners. If you can't say yes to the intermediates, you have to cancel the intermediates. As I said before, we tend to sometimes think we are a lot better than we really are, but at some point this will reach critical mass where it doesn't make any sense to keep the race on.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

    You're turning black metallic.

  17. #17
    Jammin' Econo
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    Of course not, but was the course information available?
    See my previous post. I fully believe that promoters have a responsibility to provide accurate information prior to the race. But then if someone has that information and decides to partake anyway, they shouldn't still blame the promoter if they slip on the ice, crash into a tree or run out of snacks and need a hug.
    “I dream of a day when my children will live in a world without the shackles of cause and effect.” - S. Colbert


  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by sean salach View Post
    Unless of course, you're really concerned with your event being fat bike only because you're in it for the fashion and not interested in letting people show up on the most appropriate bike for the conditions.
    Ouch, lot of truth in this.....

  19. #19
    All Lefty's, all the time Moderator
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    Jayem thinks like a lawyer.

    Smithhammer thinks like a Darwinist.

    Personally, I'm with Darwin, but I appreciate a lawyer when something particularly egregious is perpetuated by some corporate *****nozzle who desperately deserves to be crushed by the law.

    People paying for the right to be forced to ride fast in circles, and then suing when they fall down and go boom, is the height of what's wrong in the world today. Walking around the parking lot should tell you all you need to know, and the decision is yours, to pull out if you feel conditions aren't good enough *for you*.

    Who the hell are you going to sue if you aren't racing, and the same thing happens? Oh right, the land owner, the tire manufacturer, the bike brand, etc.

    As for studs, I've said it before, fat studs are a waste of $ for anything other than flat surfaces. Off camber, up hill, etc? Get on some skinny studs and hope for the best, cause ice is one hell of a finicky medium.
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  20. #20
    Jammin' Econo
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    Quote Originally Posted by MendonCycleSmith View Post
    Smithhammer thinks like a Darwinist.
    Aw shucks, Mendon - now you're just flattering me.
    “I dream of a day when my children will live in a world without the shackles of cause and effect.” - S. Colbert


  21. #21
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    I love my Dillinger 5's studded. I'm not a racer for sure, but they're great for just having fun on ice. I always surprise the ice fishermen out there. I also notice that I can't just "hotdog" around either, it takes practice and caution and skill to get it right.
    I get a lot of ice on woods trails too and they work great there too, but on the steeper inclines I also spin sometimes too. Words from a novice.



    Northern NJ

  22. #22
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    I'm in Pennsylvania - more ice than snow most years. I just gripstudded Bud and Lous and life is good. I actually enjoy riding ice but then again I'm not racing on it.

    Rode a frozen lake first time this winter. That was awesome.

  23. #23
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    Tough call, if a course is too icy, not enough people may show to make it worth it for the promoter. Also - the best way I've found to deal with snow on top of ice is sheet metal screws, but such practices are often banned in races.

    Did a gravel grinder one year using nothing but Husker Du's where a 1/4 mile section was nothing but ice. Went slow, never crashed. Others around me were not as lucky. That can be the other end of the spectrum - if one has complete confidence in their ability, what about the other guy that thinks he can do it, but fails miserably to the point of being a risk to everyone else? Many years back before the popularity of fat bikes I did a couple of winter races that were incredibly icy, I was in sport class on Nokian Hakka's (studs) A good portion of expert and elite racers did not use studs and were all over the place, one passed me only to slide out and I ran his tire over. Was not fun dodging people who didn't know what they were doing.

    Key thing is location - one incredibly icy race can be ridiculous while another may be completely doable. The promotor has to make that call. I'd never say every icy race has to be cancelled, but for some races the type of trail/course may make an icy race a lost cause.
    Courses with many steep hills would not be fun if you had to spend too much time trying to walk up sides of hills, that's not a bike race. Never fun when the fastest runner takes first place.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by MendonCycleSmith View Post

    People paying for the right to be forced to ride fast in circles, and then suing when they fall down and go boom, is the height of what's wrong in the world today. Walking around the parking lot should tell you all you need to know, and the decision is yours, to pull out if you feel conditions aren't good enough *for you*.
    That's why it comes down to the "reasonable person" test usually. Most lawyers will use this test and contrary to TV and what is usually hyped up on the internet, most lawyers do not take cases to court unless they really think they can win. On the other hand, many companies these days with deep pockets will often settle when the sum sought is similar to what would be spent in time and money fighting it, which is unfortunate, but I've seen it both ways and plenty of times to know that just because someone sues doesn't mean it's frivolous.

    Things change, trail conditions change, just a few days ago our trails were advertised as hard packed and "groomed" for months before the race yesterday, but they fell apart due to warm temps, so lots of people (including myself) fell, multiple times. I'm ok with that, but now you have people out on a course much longer than planned. The race director/organizer said it was going to be firm. IMO, this is part of racing and the variable conditions, BUT more negligence can pass that "reasonable threshold". Maybe there are misleading signs that lead you to somewhere dangerous, maybe the trailmap isn't accurate, maybe the organizer doesn't have enough marshals when it was made known there would be people. It's not trying to poke holes in every and any race, it's just looking back on the circumstances and determining whether a person could be reasonably expected to make the mistake/issue at hand. If you look up the definition of "race", it's something where everyone is trying to win, however, if you look at race demographics, you know that is totally untrue. These aren't intended to be "for racer-boys only" events, if they were, you'd only see those racer-boys and a few fast females and everyone else would stay home, because they don't need all that support and organization for 10 riders to compete between themselves. These are competitions that people do for fun, among other reasons.

    I like the "what happens if you get frostbite" question, since several people DID get frostbite on the ITI race a few weeks ago, but that's an "invitational" race that you can only enter after proving you can stand up to long endurance rides. You have to do several 100+ winter races before they'll let you do the ITI. There's a lot that can go wrong in the ITI and you can go ride it yourself ANY time if you really want to experience the route. If you want a "sh*t can happen" route, this is it. The organizers need to weed out the riders that can't hack it. If we think like this, we never HAVE to sue someone and have a situation where someone's loved one was seriously injured or killed doing something that should not have been life threatening. Again, that doesn't mean no-risk and it doesn't mean everything should be dumbed down, it should just be to a reasonable level. If we are holding a DH race, we usually hold it on DH terrain. If we are holding an XC race, we usually don't send those down the double black diamond DH runs. I mean, they are all trails, right? If we are doing an extreme endurance race, we expect extreme endurance. No, you can't foresee everything and you can't always protect dumb people from doing dumb things, but the second you choose to start organizing something and setting it up, you start to assume liability. At some level, people trust you to make decisions when you are in that position. They expect those decisions to be reasonable. If people were going to entirely make their own decisions, they wouldn't race in the first place (they'd go ride their own route).
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

    You're turning black metallic.

  25. #25
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    I knew you were a lawyer....
    This is a Pugs not some carbon wannabee pretzel wagon!!

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  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by MendonCycleSmith View Post
    I knew you were a lawyer....
    I work with lawyers...although it's not a huge part of my job.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

    You're turning black metallic.

  27. #27
    All Lefty's, all the time Moderator
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    My point, (as someone who avoids being a joiner of things as much as possible) is only that it sucks big time, that anyone, for pretty much any reason beyond demonstrated negligence (and then screw them to the wall) would sue another party over something said individual decided of their own free will, to spend cash to be part of, fully acknowledged the risks inherent therein, and gets hurt in the process.

    Own your f*ckup, plain and simple. Life is a lot better for everyone if you do, every time.
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  28. #28
    Jammin' Econo
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    .....No, you can't foresee everything and you can't always protect dumb people from doing dumb things, but the second you choose to start organizing something and setting it up, you start to assume liability. At some level, people trust you to make decisions when you are in that position. They expect those decisions to be reasonable. If people were going to entirely make their own decisions, they wouldn't race in the first place (they'd go ride their own route).
    Obviously, race organizers have a level of liability. The problem arises when the participants don't assume a level of liability as well.

    We're not talking about situations where a race organizer has given out poor information ahead of time or signed the course inaccurately. We're talking about conditions that, in the minds of many people who rides bikes in winter, myself included, are fairly normal, foreseeable and to be expected from time to time. And that you then choose to go out into, or not.

    Assuming the race organizer puts out information beforehand that says something to the effect of, "...you will be riding on snow. Depending on the temperatures, parts of this course may be icy, etc. Please prepare accordingly and be responsible for yourself out there," and people then choose to participate, knowing that information full well, then it seems to me that both parties have entered a 'reasonable' agreement.

    When a winter race 'needs' to become so managed and manicured that anything less than ideal groomed conditions prevent it from happening, or that participants are complaining because "it took them longer than they planned" then something is deeply wrong, imo. But I guess that's one of the potential pitfalls of a sport gaining in popularity.
    “I dream of a day when my children will live in a world without the shackles of cause and effect.” - S. Colbert


  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Olasher View Post
    Many races this year in the upper Midwest have been heavily modified/cancelled due to icy conditions. These decisions have been made in the name of "safety."

    Sorry, but I have been riding all winter and in winters past in the same icy conditions. Riding well on ice requires two things.

    1. Proper Equipment/Setup
    2. Skill

    If people don't have both of those things, that's on them, and they won't do well in icy races.

    I for one would like to find out who among us is fastest on an icy course.
    While I agree with you, how many people do you think would have actually shown up to race?

    I went over my head last week in icy conditions. I thought I had it figured out based on some icy conditions I successfully rode earlier this season, even without studs, but I nearly crashed on some ice that looked rideable due to lots of pok marks and bumpy footprints frozen into it. I quickly realized that there was no way I was going to clear the whole section. I dragged my foot and ended up spinning a 180. If anyone had been near me I would have taken them out, no question. Now I know the limit of Bud & Lou w/o studs. I have a feeling that if a whole bunch of me's showed up to race, even with studs, our confidence might have been our undoing - and possibly yours. I have to think this is what organizers are basing their decision(s) on.

    I will say that my early season success riding ice without studs gave me some god-like confidence. I felt pretty good about that. But the late season conditions were different and more difficult in that there had been more thawing before it re-froze. Even flat ground was very sketchy. Slopes were impossible (w/o studs). I ended up off-trail many times as the riding was easier there.

    -F
    It's never easier - you just go faster.

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