The man in black fled across the frozen valley, and the fatbiker followed.


The valley was the culmination of all valleys, huge, standing to the sky for what looked like eternity in all directions. It was white, blinding, frozen, and without feature save for the small, rim of the mountains which drew themselves on the horizon. An occasional trail sign pointed the way, for once the drifted track that cut its way through the thick crust of snow had been a highway. Dog-walkers and hikers had followed it. This place had moved on since then. Everything emptied.


The fatbiker had been struck by a momentary dizziness, a kind of widened sensation that made the entire world seem fleeting, almost a thing that could be looked at from above. It passed and, like this place upon whose crust he rode, he moved on.

Into the sun

He passed the miles without passion, not hurrying, not slowly. A bag was slung in his frame like a bloated gym bag. It was full. He had progressed through this area over many years, and had reached perhaps another reality. Had he been a recognized fatbiker, he might not have even been cold. He could have watched his own body shiver with clinical, detached attention, warming its crevices and dark inner hollows only when his logic told him it must be done.

When the crust is at its best

He was not of society, however, nor a follower of the known famous, and considered himself in no way social. He was just an ordinary explorer, in other words, and all he could say with real certainty was that he was cold.

Riding crust in the evening

And even so, he had no particular urge to pull his puffy from the bag. In a vague way, all this pleased him. It was what the country required, it was a cold country, and he had in his long life been nothing if not adaptable.

Evening crust

Surrounding the frambag was his bike, carefully weighted to his liking. Flat pedals had been added to each side when they had come to him from his teacher, who had been lighter and not so tall. The tires had a low pressure of 3 pounds to provide maximum purchase. The bike on the snow made subtle crunching noises.

Practicing ratcheting on the ice hill

His pogies, black of night or soul, were open at the wrist, with an elastic rope dangling loosely in machine-punched eyelets. His helmet was gone. So was the cleats he had once worn; gone for years, now just big winter boots.

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