By Ambassador James Joiner

How do you Halloween on a full Blue Moon in the throes of a global pandemic?

Four words: Fat bike beach ride. 

Okay, most of you probably associate fat bikes with snow. I get it.

But here on Cape Cod, a sandy land tendril thrusting awkwardly into the Atlantic and connected only by two aging metal bridges to Massachusetts, we know better. We’ve got 559 miles of soft, sabulous beach to explore, and you can’t do it right on your Sutra or Process. 

Trust me, I’ve tried. All the granny gear grinding in the world isn’t pushing you forward when the sand is halfway up to your hubs, you’re just digging deeper. Crabs are laughing at you, snails are passing you, seagulls circle you like vultures over soon-to-be-delivered carrion. It’s pity time, and even if you’ve got the legs for it your drivetrain is a salty sandy chunk of burnt toast putrefaction.

You throw some 4” plus rubber on and drop that PSI into the single digits, however, and it’s smooth sailing no matter how chonky or floofy the terrain. There’s nearly nothing you can’t overcome. Beaches become byways, dunes become skate parks, the horizon a mile marker.
A quick note on dunes: just make sure you’re allowed on ‘em first. Many are protected and face enough natural threats from actual erosion that they don’t need any help from us – the Cape is sinking into the sea at a rate of 3.8 square feet per year.
As any local will tell you, fall is the best season to live on Cape Cod. The millions of summer tourists have returned to their normal city habitat, unclogging our central traffic arteries and leaving beaches vacant to the point where you can walk or roll across them unimpeded by basking bodies slathered in bronzer. A pro-tip trick is that when temps start to dip below 50º during the day, you can actually cruise for miles without seeing hardly another hardy soul. This is a true treat indeed, and exactly what we lucked into on this past Halloween.
We set up camp a mile past the off-road vehicle zone, making sure we wouldn’t be interrupted by townie types showing off how many low tide zone donuts their jacked-up Jeeps can do. After building a fire and warming up our innards with cider and whiskey, we sat back and watched the sun disappear, yanking a holiday-apropos spectral orange full moon up behind it. My favorite part of being way out on a sandy stretch like this is that even if you’re surrounded by civilization, the exposure to wind and sea hides humanity’s telltale sounds. You can pretend, just for a moment, that our world is a quiet, peaceful place. Take deep breaths. Serenity now!

 I love bikes.

I may actually love them too much, or so folks who’ve see my expansive quiver of two-wheeled people-powered machines have told me. I have too many, and I love them all like family. But it’s the pure escapism of fat biking that makes my plus-sized steed my favorite. There’s no expectation of nailing a KOtM or beating the rest of the pack to the trailhead. Performance pressure is lower than my tire’s PSI. Sure, you can get shreddy if you want to, and yeah, there are crazy people who ride the self-supported Iditarod Invitational. But for the most part, at least for me, fat biking = bigging up the vibes and leaving my troubles – and the troubling world – behind.  

I’m not saying I don’t see the place for fat bikes to get all competitive, I do. I know there are even people who throw on their spandex sausage suits and sprint around on ‘em. Good for them. But that’s not why I spread my legs for a freakishly large Q factor. I do it for the love. There’s enough aggro BS dragging us down in the world, especially this year. I’m thankful to be lucky enough to have a dedicated plus-sized party machine to escape it all on.