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No slush ... perfect!

Ready for takeoff on the Kennebec River Rail Trail.

It's been colder than Billy H — hell or heck, take your pick — here in Maine. But never mind, it's been perfect for fat biking and here's why.

We are pretty lucky, for the simple fact that the Kennebec River Rail Trail — just minutes from my house in Hallowell — is plowed quite soon following any measurable snowfall. This occurred the other day, leaving behind a smooth, icy surface that my under-inflated studded tires gripped with ease.

What made it more pleasurable, riding-wise, was exactly because of the chilly temperature. Yes, it was mid-afternoon and the sun was shining, but the sheer coldness — 23 degrees and a "feels like" reading of 12 — meant I encountered absolutely no slush on my 13-mile journey. You might be thinking ... so what!

With the absence of partially melted snow or ice, my frame, chain, cassette and various other components remained virtually clean. And you know how I hate a dirty two-wheeled machine. But the real benefit mostly involved my fat bike's disc brakes. When those darn things get damp or wet — from slush — the screeching noise they emit quickly ruins any thoughts of a quiet, peaceful pedal. It's the one negative drawback that keeps me from being a 100-percent convert when it comes to disc brakes.

So I was blissfully cruising the day away and really didn't want the ride to end, despite the frigid conditions. As most people will tell you, fat biking is an extremely hard, but fun, workout. But because of what my friend Ralph would often say — "Don't forget to smell the roses." — I remembered to stop frequently to observe the beauty of my surroundings: the frozen harshness of the historic Kennebec River, with the occasional ribbon of open water ... sometimes harboring hardy ducks; the bare trees casting long shadows against the white-covered ground, and witnessing wind-driven snow globs from branches dive-bombing toward the Earth's floor.

And because of no slush, one couldn't help but hear the stillness in the cold, dry air. Moments like these are why I ride a bicycle. Stay safe!

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