Tales from the Tarmac | Stay Frosty My Friends

Tales from the Tarmac is the weekly home of the stories, insights, opinions and occasional rants of Art’s Web Content Editor, Kevin Rouse. Read at your own risk, and please don’t ever take him seriously—it might just go to his head.

I suppose it’s only fitting I write this week’s Tales from the Tarmac as I actually sit on the tarmac at the Minneapolis—St. Paul International Airport. Eagerly awaiting the thaw-out period back home in San Luis Obispo, I take stock of the weekend we spent in Bloomington, Minnesota at Frostbike, an annual industry expo trade show.

Frostbike-059To paint a better picture, simply imagine more fat bikes, beards, and cycling caps than you can shake a stick at. Oh, and some severely compressed mercury in the thermometer as well.

Sure, there’s plenty to see and do, but perhaps the most striking thing is actually experiencing a cycling community in a locale that somehow not only manages to stay on the bike through temperatures well below freezing and plenty of snow on the ground.

Call me naive, or just call me spoiled (it’s probably a mix of both), but it’s easy to forget that ‘novelties’ like studded tires, fat bikes, and bar mitts are simply a way of life during winter as a cyclist in Minnesota and so much else of the country.

While I’m contemplating my early race targets in February, most of the country won’t see the ice leave their roads for months. A trip to Frostbike, however, serves as a stark reminder that sure, I enjoy a hard ride in terrible conditions every once in a while , but I’m still an absolute softie compared to those that still hop on their bikes at seven in the morning to commute in single-digit temps.

fatbike_at_frostbikeAlthough, that’s not to say it’s all-bad—several of us on the Art’s team threw a leg over a fatbike for the first time and were pleasantly surprised with just how fun it was. Sure, it’s a bit harder to find double-digit speeds, but the lack of control, paired with the different handling characteristics of 4-inch wide tires on snow certainly keeps things interesting.

But, that being said, our thin California skin gave us barely 20 minutes until we were chilled to the bone. Like I said, softies.

So, as the plane begins taxiing down the runway, I vow to harden up a bit. If an entire cycling community can flourish and have a blast in some of the least bike-friendly conditions imaginable, I should certainly be able to stomach anything California can throw at me. But, we’ll see how long I last before the same old excuses begin to regain their power.

Until then, I can only dream of attaining the true sign of a true hard-ass cyclist—the ice beard.

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And, to my newfound cycling heroes who are far tougher than I, stay frosty my friends. Your fortitude puts mine to shame—and I totally love that.

Kevin Rouse may have been a bit late to the bike-riding party, but he’s certainly making up for lost miles. Having discovered cycling while studying journalism at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, he enjoys long days in the saddle whenever—and however—he can get them. You can usually find him on two wheels, but if not, you’d be well served to check the nearest coffee shop.