The Chainlink

It took me forever to realize Santa Claus wasn't real and I still believe in Sasquatch. I'm married to my high school sweetheart and I've been with my current bike (yes, my only bike) for seven years. This is, of course, an opinion piece and its obviously biased. 

I dreaded moving to Chicago when I accepted a job offer here. It wasn't really the flatness but the winters everybody warned me about that scared me. I'd never ridden in snow, except for once in Pisgah National Forest. Still, it was the kind of snow that just blankets the trail ever so slightly. 

My first time riding a fat bike, believe it or not, was in 2008. It was a Pugsley. Back then, Fat Bikes where associated with trekking across Alaska and insane adventures in the rugged terrain of Patagonia. Since then, I've demoed more modern offerings such as Rocky Mountain's Suzie Q. They are fun, very fun. 

However, during this season's biggest snowfall yet, I decided I really wanted to bike. I had so many people tell me "you need to get yourself a fat bike", that I was honestly doubting how successful my attempt could possible be. Regardless, I decided to head out and do it anyways. At least I could make a video out of it.

Recently, I read an article on Bike Radar that called to attention how many of us are "over-biked." The article recognized how many riders have a bike that's "too" capable for the terrain they ride. This obviously got me thinking. It occurred to me that in the past 5 years I've moved 4 times and I've biked in 4 different countries. I've lived and rode my bike in Mexico, North Carolina, Colorado, New York and now Chicago. What would be the ideal bike for me?

A quick recap would prove that I've been under-biked in Mexican downhill races, over-biked in Chapel Hill's local trails, under-biked in some of Pisgah's infamous singletrack, perfectly-biked in Colorado parks, over-biked commuting in New York, and again under-biked at the Whindham WC downhill track. All throughout, with my same old-school 26 inch rig. The more I think about it, the more I realize that the industry's marketing campaigns will always aim to make me feel like I'm riding the wrong steed in the wrong place. No matter what bike I own.

However, the one thing for certain is that I've managed to steer away from all the recent new standards and trends while staying happy. I may not have the right equipment to ride snow but you don't really need it to have fun. Come to think about it, I've never had the right equipment to bike in general, nowadays there's always something out there a little more "niche" that could do a better job than what you have. 

Regardless, it seems there will always be those telling me my bike is too old, its got too much travel for XC, its got too little travel for DH, its too heavy to commute or its just plain too ugly. And although all of that may be true, I've always ended up having fun riding. Whether I'm commuting, riding trail, riding downhills or riding on snow, I feel better riding my bike than riding the couch. 

I feel there may be a lot of people out there looking from the outside at our sport and feeling confused. It might feel overwhelming to know there are so many options out there and that it's almost impossible to choose your first, second or third bike. To them I say, they are all just bikes. And while some may get to caught up on the weeds of it all, don't worry too much about it. Riding a bike, any bike, is fun, anywhere.

Marcelo Marcos started riding and racing mountain bikes in 2002. Since then, he’s taken on marathon races, bike camping, downhill racing, park riding and commuting. His day job as a finance consultant has led him away from his hometown in Mexico and onto Texas, Florida, North Carolina, L.A. and now Chicago. He currently enjoys mountain biking and photography in his off-time.

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Comment by Irvin Steinert on March 22, 2017 at 8:54am

demonstrate. demonstrated. See how easy?

Comment by Marcelo Marcos on March 17, 2017 at 9:54am

@CJ: Thats a great compliment, thanks bud. 

@David Simmons: I knew there had to be more of us out there. Keep tearing it up on the Trek!

@DerferMArk: Thanks for noticing the video. That is Palos. On this occasion it was Orange to Midway and then 394 bus I think. Metra does not run on weekends :(

@Tom A.K.: Agreed. If I could have all the bikes in the world, I would, trust me. 

Comment by Tom A.K. on March 16, 2017 at 2:39pm
A 'Fad' perhaps. It is obviously a good 'workout' bike best suited for young legs and (knees). A cycling community friend of mine once let me ride his fat-bike during a ride on the 6O6's flat surface and it was a definite increased resistance ride for my maturing (old) legs.
I enjoy my Trek 3700 MTB, but I do love the ease of efficiency on my road bike.
Comment by DerferMark on March 16, 2017 at 2:31pm

Nice vid Marcelo! What CTA/Pace route do you take to get out there, assuming you're at Palos? And that full-suspension steed of yours is quite luxurious! LOL  I've had the same Trek hardtail for 18 year now. :)

Comment by David Simmons on March 16, 2017 at 12:13pm

Great article! I'm a year-round cyclist and ONLY have two bikes.  Some might find that hard to believe...even blasphemous. I ride a 23 year-old Trek 820 95% of the time. I use it for my commute, my errands, my transportation, and for recreational rides. From time to time, I'll ride my flat-bar Felt road bike (an entry-level road bike I might add). My road bike is typically used for longer weekend rides.

The truth is, most people really only need one good bike in good condition. Sure, the bike industry has done a nice job of developing lots of fantastic bikes in the past couple decades and cyclists have benefited. But you won't see me buying a fat tire, cyclo-cross, tri, cruiser, folding, e-bike, recumbent, or any other bike any time soon.

I'm sure the "next big thing" for the bike industry is just around the corner. As with all the other trends over the past couple decades, I'll ignore it and blissfully cruise around on my Trek.

Comment by CJ on March 16, 2017 at 12:11pm

Great article.  when i saw the headline i thought here we go again with a chainlink contributor telling us what we need to buy.... thanks for surprising me

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