January can be kind of gloomy. The holidays are over, there’s not much going on, the days are short, and the temps are generally pretty frigid. Luckily, there’s Frozen Fat, a winter fat-bike weekend full of camping, beer, bonfires, good people, and of course, plenty of riding bikes. This is the fourth year of the event, and my second year participating/helping out. Friday began with a flurry of running errands and packing up stuff to take out to Martin Gap, where the event takes place (it happens to be only a mile away from our new house, which was quite convenient this year). Everyone camps in the backyard of a house owned by our friends Tony and Paula (Tony owns Rothrock Outfitters and is one of the organizers of the event), which is now rented by our friends Jake and Erica. Luckily, Jake and Erica have been more than happy to inherit the hosting of Frozen Fat, and don’t mind having their yard turned into a campground one weekend a year. By mid-afternoon, the first few people began to roll in. We happily greeted familiar faces and met new, and immediately began the task of getting the fire pile ready. Friends had dropped off scrap wood and pallets earlier in the week so we had plenty of stuff to burn, although we were missing the usual piece or two of furniture. But we didn’t light the fire yet—that was for later, after the bar. Over the next few hours, more and more characters arrived and claimed their little pieces of ground that would be home for the weekend. Some camping setups were elaborate, while others were as simple as a pad and sleeping bag on the ground (a la Jake).
Around 7pm or so, we all hopped on our bikes to roll over to McMurtries via the back roads, as is tradition. McMurtries Tavern is in the “middle of nowhere” to most, an unmarked building aside from the neon Genesee and Rolling Rock signs that glow in the nighttime. But it’s a great place—the food is good, and the owner, Dave, is a wonderful person. He gets so stoked about us invading his place once a year, he even puts a hoppy beer on tap just for us and orders some extra bags of sweet potato fries. The locals who happen to be there that night generally are thoroughly confused by the throng of (mostly) out-of-towners arriving via bicycle—the kind you pedal, no less. We all have a great time, eating, drinking, and being merry. At some point during the evening, Evan hands out the course maps and cue sheets to prepare everyone for the next days ride, and eventually, we all trickle back to Martin Gap and retire to partake in more beer, the bonfire, and plenty of shenanigans.
This years fireside fun included a tug-o-war contest while standing atop cinderblocks and a pumpkin toss, which ended with Ellis putting a smashed pumpkin on his head. Dirt bikes came out sometime after midnight, after many had gone to bed. There was a comment made about how those getting sleep had an unfair advantage, which resulted in Jake and Ellis riding around the yard on the motor bike, Ellis talking through a megaphone and periodically putting it in “siren mode.” Trying to get a good nights rest was clearly futile, and we’d all be awake all too soon to ride bikes through snow and ice and over mountains in the morning. This is Frozen Fat, and it is awesome.
To be continued…