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An Unexpected Winter Delight

My first Experience Fat Biking

This has been a tough year, and for many, it has forced people to pivot and adjust their living situations, primarily through the winter months. I'm usually a snowbird myself. In typical years, you'll find me headed for the sunny and dry desert; however, this year, my winter season has looked instead...wintry.

I use my winter breaks as a chance to mentally reset and rekindle my passion for the sport after a busy summer of coaching, build adequate fitness to carry me through the summer, and it's just a beautiful landscape that I enjoy spending my time in.

Living in a wintry climate has made it challenging to get outside and get that fresh air and exercise. Especially with our ski hills being closed. I've opted to spending a lot of time on my rollers watching Netflix in my basement, riding many mindless miles. I couldn't bring myself to purchase the fancy smart trainers that are available. I prefer the real-time balance and coordination of the rollers.

Insert fat biking.

Fat biking is nothing new. It's a regular winter activity for many across the northern states and Canada and seems to grow in popularity every year. Sure, I've ridden in the snow before, albeit on my mountain bike (it sure is challenging), but fat biking is an entirely different discipline.

A few weeks ago, the opportunity presented itself for me to borrow a fat bike and actually give fat biking a try. I was a bit skeptical at first, but donning my snowboard helmet and goggles and snowshoe attire and boots, I set off on a full-day adventure.

The first half of the ride, I wasn't sure that I was into it. It was much slower than I was used to. My front wheel was in a constant battle with the ruts, often tossing me into the snow, and it seemed like my timing and cadence was always just off.

After break midway to refuel (I also learnt how much more work it was), I ready to go for round two.

After some snacks and a shift in mindset, I have to say the second half of my ride was an entirely different experience. It was so much fun! The feeling reminded me of riding in muddy conditions, which are my favourite. I was sad the day had to come to an end, but after three hours of pedalling, my legs were tapped. I certainly look forward to being able to fat bike on the snow again soon.

For those that are in a similar situation as me, here are a couple of tips for starting out;

  • Curb your expectation. It's an entirely different disciple than mountain biking. You might feel a little fish-out-of-water the first time. You're also not likely to cover the same amount of ground as quickly.

  • Stay relaxed and mobile. Remember the fundamental skills.

  • Anticipate some sliding [and falling - it'll happen]. The closest thing it reminded me of was riding in slick and muddy conditions.

  • Watch the ruts. They'll get particularly bossy with your front wheel. Either stick with it or altogether avoid them.

  • Dress for the temperature. Layers are key!

Should we add fat biking lessons and rides to our services for the 2022 winter? Leave us a comment below if you'd like to see them come to life!

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