Why hibernate when you can play outdoors instead? This winter, give “fat bikes” a spin!
As you might have guessed, not every bicycle can handle snow. You’ll need a fat bike.
Don’t let the name fool you. Goofy monniker aside, these beasts are pretty tough. They resemble mountain bikes in every way, with the exception of the tires. Wide and textured, “fatties” are hard to miss. Some are twice the size of a typical mountain bike tire. Their eccentric looks aren’t just for show, though. Fat bikes have lots of perks.
Traction is their biggest benefit. They have superior grip— just what you need for snow, slush, and ice. What’s more, wide tires don’t “sink” as much as narrow ones. You’ll feel like you’re floating above the terrain instead.
Fat bikes are also versatile. Snow aside, you can take them over sand, rocks, and mud. If speed isn’t a priority, you might be tempted to keep these machines going all year!
Oh what fun it is to ride
Snow and bikes? The combination seems unlikely. But in the past few years, winter riding has gained lots of traction.
For one thing, snow makes old paths seem new. Favorite summer trails transform into magical winter wonderlands, seemingly overnight. There’s nothing like pulling over and savoring the silence of a frosted meadow or forest.
For another, low-pressure fat tires make riding fun. They’re bouncy and floaty— and much more entertaining than cycling at the gym. If you’re looking for a refreshing alternative, this is a great option.
You can easily write a book about riding techniques. However, if you’ve never ridden in snow before, these rules of thumb will help.
- Keep your hips slightly behind the saddle and your heels down. That way, it’s harder to tumble forward if the front wheel slips.
- Extra weight over the back wheel improves traction. When possible, try to remain in the saddle.
- When approaching a curve, keep your knees loose. Doing so improves reaction time if your bike loses traction.
Old Man Winter is cold. You know that. Still, riding through snow can be miserable if you’re not prepared.
Here are some tips to get started:
- Wear layers
- Get wind-blocking gloves and foot covers
- Stock up on air-activated warmers for hands and feet
- Prevent snow glare with a pair of sunglasses
- Replace metal pedals with plastic; it’s harder for ice and snow to accumulate on them
For long backcountry rides, bring a friend and emergency equipment. A pocket knife, lighter, and space blanket are essential. Of course, these suggestions are just starting points. Do all the research you can before hitting the trail.
Ask the experts
Now for the fun part: shopping! The New River Gorge, renowned for its spectacular trails and outdoor recreation, has lots of resources. Check out Marathon Bicycle Company and Arrowhead Bike Farm in Fayetteville; both have everything you need to get riding. Once you’re outfitted, hit the Arrowhead Trails for a fun-filled ride!
Good luck and have fun!