Frame source

When most people think of snow and bikes it looks like this:

Or maybe even as below for some very dedicated folks who love biking and winter.

But for Mike Curiak, it looks like this:

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There’s a lot about this very special bike that you can’t know from first glance. For example, the frame tubes attach to a “gas can” to fuel a stove. You can see the “tank” with the Moots gator on it over the cranks. Lots of other cool stuff. Why? Because Mike doesn’t just go for a ride in the snow. Mike is a legend in endurance biking circles.

He has competed in the Iditabike for the past 10 years, winning the 350 mile version once and the 1,100 mile race twice. He holds the course record for the northern route (the race alternates between two different routes every year). He also holds the record for the Great Divide Race from Canada to Mexico along the Continental Divide. Until last year, he was the record-holder for the Kokepelli Trail Race, pedaling between Moab and Grand Junction in just under 14 hours.

Back in 2007 of the Iditarod Train Invitational he said “Last year was brutal — the highest temperature I saw during the entire race was 26 below.” High of 26 below? Hmmm. That takes preparation. This isn’t the time to discuss unsupported wilderness adventure, backwoods riding, or long distance riding. Suffice it to say that Mike knows a thing or two about it.

Here’s a video of his tour of the Iditarod Trail, Knik Lake to McGrath in early March 2009. and ova heya is timeline of his snow bikes and their evolution so far. [An aside: Eric Parsons designs and sews the gear you see on the snow bikes. Eric adventures pretty hard as well but when not he runs Epic Designs. You can custom order stuff with measurements, or go with stock stuff, or design whatever you need for your adventures. I haven;t ordered from Eric, although we’ve talked about a few things. Another excellent choice is Jeff Boatman’s Carousel Design Works. I have one of Jeff’s Escape Pods. Bomb proof. One of the great features of all three gents is that the designs are informed by doing. In their own adventures they depend on the stuff they design and in the cases of the bags sew and build. Rubber to the road people, rubber to the road.]

And while he doesn’t sew bags when he’s not out adventuring Mike runs a shop called Big Wheels where he specializes in hand built wheels for your 29er. He’s thorough, has no need to build “boutique” wheels to help you spend money (but can if you wish), and will recommend rims, hubs, spokes that match what you tell him about your riding, what you plan for the wheels, your weight etc. Go order a set. You’ll be happy as a clam I tell you what.

You might recall that I said I was perusing someone’s blog and they started posting pictures of a new bike they built. So clearly that person was Mike. And it actually starts a bit further back than that. The bike was delivered on Friday Nov. 2nd 2007. And the first ride pics the following Tuesday. But those pics weren’t really enough to peak my attention. The pictures of the built bike however inspired me to write to Mike and ask some questions. That was in February. And it wasn’t too much longer before there were ride pictures. Oh my.

So this frame sits in a work stand ready to be built. I have two sets of Mike’s wheels and a set of Billy’s wheels to choose from (at the moment they’re rubbered as fat, middle, road). Next week I’ll order the missing parts and get busy. That’ll be the next installment.

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Lastly, since many of you do ride in the winter, and a common discussion is cold feet and footwear. Have a look at what Mike’s system: Warm feet are happy feet.