Femmes on Fatties

The article below was previewed in the March issue of Roaring Fork Lifestyle Magazine. Thank you to Andrea Palm-Porter for the great article.

Article Andrea Palm-Porter | Photography Darin Binion

It’s sunny, brisk, and a comfortable 28 degrees as four ladies meet at the bottom of Babbish Gulch near Sunlight Mountain Resort. Excitement fills the air, freshies lie on the ground, and laughter, hugs, and a unique camaraderie ties these fat biking ladies together.

It’s time for a morning spin—and what will be spinning, oddly enough, are bike tires! Fat ones.

It’s called “fat biking”.

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These ladies have been riding fat bikes for three years, about one-quarter of the sport’s lifetime. Fat biking, the fastest-growing segment of the bicycle industry, was probably invented in Alaska by a fellow named Mark Gronewald, who won the human-powered counterpart of an Iditarod dogsled race on a bike fitted with tires two or three times as wide as those on a summer road bike.

Fat bikes typically range in weight from 30 to 40 pounds, and more when you add the accessories and gear carried on the rides. Their snow-worthy tires are (pardon the phrase) broad, ranging from a knob shoulder width of 88 to 119 millimeters wide.

Two summers ago, Amy Butowicz joined most of today’s group to ride the infamous Monarch Crest Trail near Salida on their fat bikes. Today, the three core riders— Rebecca Murray, Alison Birkenfeld and Andrea Palm-Porter—are joined by Emily Murray. They are riding a custom-painted peacock Surly Pugsly, two Salsa Mukluks and a custom, powder-painted, purple Twenty2 Bully.

The Bully comes from Twenty2 Cycles, a shop that custom-builds bikes in Glenwood Springs. The shop thrives on personalization of the bike and on customer relationships. The Twenty2 Cycles Bully features an aluminum frame and carbon components that make it a featherweight in the fat bike world.

The Bully, being ridden by Andrea Palm-Porter, is lighter than most and weighs a total of 24 pounds. It’s a sweet ride. Smooth shifting of the gears and the bike’s lightweight make climbing easier. What’s so crazy is the air pressure for the big fat tires; it’s typically set at around four to five pounds per square inch (psi) for riding on the snow. The wide tires and low pressure create the suspension and traction needed to ride in style and get the performance needed from the bike.

One of the favorite rides of local fat bikers is to climb up Grizzly at Sunlight Mountain Resort after the lifts close or during a “dawn patrol”, before the resort opens. It’s not easy riding a bike weighing more than 30 pounds up 2,000 feet, but it is rewarding and fantastic exercise.

The group always encourages newbies and nobody is ever left behind. The energy runs high in preparation for the descent as people gear up with helmets, headlamps and extra layers. The descent on Ute has lots of rollers and dips that only make you giggle more. The smiles are bigger than you can imagine, and screams loud with joy, as the group stops to ensure that everyone is safe and having fun. After the climb, as endorphins from the effort kick in, everyone meets in the warming hut for some silliness and for a shared feeling of accomplishment.

Prince Creek, and Red Mountain are a few other local stashes that appeal to fat bikers.

If you are looking for something new to do, try fat biking. It’s biking with a little bit of attitude, and it has fun and inspiration written all over it. The local bike stores are great at connecting you with fat bike events, riders and will even let you demo a fat bike. There’s even a Facebook group called “Fat Bike Gurlz”—it’s a perfect place to follow femmes on fat bikes.

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Why Ride a Fat Bike?

Emily Murray: “I don’t really ski and this is a way to get out in the winter and in shape for mountain biking season.”

Rebecca Murray: “Fat biking is another form of staying healthy in the winter. It keeps my legs strong, and the women I bike with are motivating and inspiring.”

Alison Rene: “I want to ride bikes all year long and fat biking gives me that opportunity during the snowy months.”

Andrea Palm-Porter: “It’s fun, keeps me active and gives me different options to play in the snow.”

Twenty2 Bully shows up for Arrowhead 135

Nick Armano, Glenwood local, places 6th after 135 mile winter bike race.

For those of us who think we spend a lot of time on our bikes, Nick Armano makes us feel lazy. The Arrowhead 135 is listed on top of the most challenging endurance races in the United States, if not the world. This race across Northern Minnesota takes place in the coldest part of the winter at one of the coldest areas in the lower 48 states. This year, one day before start time the 3 degree temperature didn’t make racers like Armano feel all warm and fuzzy.

Armano was riding a Twenty2 cycles Bully, newly built and ready for the challenge.  The titanium frame was built specifically for Armano with a 1 X11 drive train.  This gear ratio gives Armano a lot of options for the cross country race but one less derailleur to worry about through the 135 mile course. At only 27 pounds without frame bags it is easy to keep it light with enough room to store all of your supplies for this challenging race.

While hoping to finish in under 24 hours, Armano managed to crush the course in 16 hours and 51 minutes.  An amazing time considering the 135 mile course has the biggest of its climbs in the second half of the race across rugged, scenic Arrowhead State Snowmobile Trail from Frostbite Falls to Tower, MN.

“My typical plan is to not push too much early but also find my rhythm for the long day.” Armano schemed but Jay Petervary gave him some good advise on a quick start as passing would be difficult in the new fresh snow from the night before. Petervary went on to take 3rd finishing the race in 15 hours, only 2 seconds after the first place time.

The preparation for a race like this must be as mentally exhausting as is it is physically.  The start of the race boosted a warm temperature in the teens leaving Armano questioning his layering system and concerned he may overheat leading to more problems as his sweat freezes.

“My hand kept overheating, trying to avoid ruining my pogies, it forced me to take my hands out often to cool them off.” said Armano. “I also forced myself to eat if I took my hands out which was key for this long ride.” Implying that it all worked out in his favor.

Coming into the last aid station, volunteers told Armano that one guy was a minute ahead of him and the next was ten minutes ahead. Having crazy human strength and his reliable stead, Armano spent the last 20 miles standing and pushing hard to catch them both.  Pulling into the finish only one minute ahead of the man who had been 10 minutes ahead of him at the last aid station.

“Overall it was a great experience,” remarks Armano. His finish line photo boasts a great smile and as friends and coworkers of Armano we couldn’t be more excited to share his victory.



The Measurement of Life

We often divide our lives by units of time.  Centuries. Decades.  Years.  Months.  Weeks.  Hours.  Minutes.  Seconds.

I frequently find that the most difficult times in my life seem to last and last and last…while those that are most enjoyable end before the sun sets.  Last Saturday was a day that I wish could have continued forever. Or, as the British would say, a fortnight, at least.

Eagle was cold and clear that morn.  The thermometer registered below the point where water turns to ice, and the yellow leaves of fall were weighted by snow.  We saddled up The Dudes and began our ride through the backcountry above town, where time did not exist.

Up Pipeline, past Wolverton.  Oh tranquil Wolverton.  Visitors to the aspens of Firebox, the hike-a-bike near 9,000 feet, that son of a bitch.  Mike’s Night-Out, a traverse through the seams of the mountain to Cat-Walk.  Cruisy bluesy Easy Rider, Star Wars, the Plunge, another 1000 units of measurement up Tick, Abram’s Ridge, and back to Town, its stores and restaurants, and our shop.  Our town.

Hiking.  Not biking.  You son of a bitch!

Hiking. Not biking. You son of a bitch!

Let's have a coldie.

Let’s have a coldie.

We ended with steins of beer at Oktoberfest in Gypsum.  Gyptoberfest.

I wish that day did not end, but I find great comfort knowing that it will be repeated many times over the next year, by me, by my friends, and by you.


Art With The Catfish

St. Peter has some art

St. Peter has some art

“Everyone has an art,” my friend, Catfish, explained. Catfish also goes by Delicious.  And C-Note, too.  Funny for a forty year-old, white dude with two kids.  It was ten years ago, and a group of us were having a few coldies at a little bar on the Texas-Mexican border in a town called Acuna. It was then, while drunk and defenseless, that he took the opportunity to reveal to us another one of his theories.  We were a captive audience of six.  We had been through this before, and accepted our penance without objection.  We were defeated.

Before I explain his philosophy, it might be useful to make clear a few things about the man.  I met him in law school.  I thought that he was a pretty sharp guy, mostly because he looked the part, but also because he hung around with some intelligent folk.  I later learned, to the contrary, that if he didn’t graduate lantern rouge, he was darn close.

His nicknames were not arrived at organically.  They were not the product of any specific antics or physical features possessed by him, though he once wore a handlebar mustache, but rather by self-imposition.  Indeed, there are rules against this sort of thing, but for some reason that protocol¸ respected by generations of men around the world for centuries over, did not apply to Catfish.  What is more impressive is that his friends have accepted his colorful monikers, such that none of us can recall his God-given name.  He even has a theory as to how to give oneself a nickname and make it stick.  Of course he does.  He is Catfish.  He is Delicious.  He is C-Note.  He is a baller.

This is also the same guy that orders beers based on the sequence of Easy Company’s progress through Europe during World War II.  For example, he will first order a Kronebourgh from France, then a Hacker-Pschorr from Germany, followed by too many pints to count from the goodly monks in Belgium, maybe something from the Netherlands, on to Austria and so on and so forth.

In any event, on that day in a dusty bar in old Mexico, Catfish went on to explain what I believe may be his one gen-u-ine philosophy, that we all have an art, that we all have something that defines us.  Barber’s art was analyzing college football.  The Historian’s art was remembering the sequence of events of a previous night, no matter how intoxicated.  And comedy.  He was good at that, too.  The Cardinal’s art was his biceps, and Gumby’s was his coolness.  Bart was artistic in his optimism.  Mine was laughing.

Well, here at Twenty2 Cycles, our art is custom-made bicycles created just for you, the aficionado of life.  Of exploration and adventure.  Of art.  Thank you, Catfish.


Time Machine Art

Fine Art


Art by The Dude

Art by The Dude

Fat Art

Fat Art

What is your art?

Thanks for reading,


Postscript – If you were wondering, Papa and I got 4th in the CTR.  Beautiful.  That Art.

The Dude, the Spirit Reservoir and the CTR

I rode my bicycle from Denver to Durango as part of the Colorado Trail Race in 2011.  My hands and nether regions were numb, but my heart was full.  The beauty of this universe is a marvel, and to spend 5 days wandering the high mountains of Colorado on a bike was a gift. I learned later that my Dad spent those 5 days alternating between sales calls at work and anxiously following the dot of his middle son on a computer screen, only to be repeatedly frustrated that said son was unable to keep his Spot functioning adequately.

He died three months later.

While 2012 was not to be, I will be in Durango on July 21st for the start of the 2013 edition of the CTR.   I cannot wait to ride the Colorado Trail again.  This time under a full moon and pedaling in the opposite direction from south to north.  The views from the trail will be similar, but almost certainly shaded differently.  Sometimes by the color of the sun, the shape of the clouds or the glow of moon.  At times by the experiences of life.  I hope to see my Pops.  I hope to talk to him. I will ask him for advice.   I will tell him that I love him and miss him.  No Spot watching for him this time.  We will ride it together.

Papa will probably cruise casually on his 1982 Schwinn 10 speed.  I will be riding The Dude 29er from Twenty2 Cycles.  Light.  Tough.  Titanium.  Art.  Sram XX1, Stan’s NoTubes’ Crest wheels and the holy grail of forks from DT Swiss.



As for gear, let me tell you Melba Toast is packing:

System to assist in making sleep as uncomfortable as possible

Escape Bivy



2 water bottles

1 100oz bladder in frame bag

Aquamira drops



1 bike shorts/jersey

Rab down jacket

Rain gear

2 wool socks

1 long sleeve wool shirt

1 wool long underwear

Pearl Izumi shoes


Bike gloves

1 warm pair of gloves




Chamois cream

Spare contacts/solution




Cash money/credit





CTR data book





Fenix LD20 on my lid

Coast PX25 on the bars


Stuff I Don’t Want to Use.  Ever.

Tire boot


Chain links


2 tubes


Brake pads

Zip ties

Tube patch kit

First Aid Kit

Duct tape



Sixer of Bonfire IPA – Eagle, Colorado


The above items will all fit snugly and securely in packs from Oveja Negra Threadworks of Leadville, Colorado (www.ovejanegrathreadworks.com).  The good folks at Oveja Negra create beautifully functional gear for the cycle-biker that regularly taps into his or her spirit reservoir.  I will use the ½ Frame Bag, the Front End Loader handlebar sling, 2 Snack Pack top tube bags and a Gearjammer seat bag.  As you can see, I have opted for some camo, which will serve as my anti-theft system in lieu of a 5 pound lock.  I don’t think any prospective robbers will be able to see my ride.




1/2 Frame Bag

1/2 Frame Bag

So, that is my setup!  Anytime that I get out on my bike or on my skis or just outside having a beer with my wife, friends and family, is a gift to be treasured.  I look forward to meeting up with current friends and future friends at Velorution in Durango on Sunday morn and sharing the fun of bikes and adventure!  Good luck!  Let me know if you have any questions on the setup.