Fat Bike Part II: How to Ace Your Fabiking Adventure
Fatbiking—which as we explained in the first part of this article is the evolution of the mountain bike into all terrain territory—is one of the hottest new winter activities, and for good reason. Fatbikes allow you to crank across practically anything, reaching natural spectacles and traversing land you would never think possible to travel by bicycle; they offer a heart pumping workout, allowing riders to dig into tough climbs and stay agile on rollicking descents; and finally, fatbiking is an activity fit for the whole family—bikes come in all sizes, and it’s easy to find terrain that is approachable for every ability level.
Here are a few keys to make you next outing astride one of these awesome extra-wide crafts as rewarding as can be.
Do your Homework
If you plan on fatbiking at a Nordic Center or Winter Activity Center of some sort, be sure to check out their fatbike policy on their website. While almost all trail systems are fully accommodating to bikers, there may be certain groomed or tracked trails that are ski-only, or even bike only! Just be sure that your planned destination has the trails you need to feel comfortable. And of course, if you are renting a bike, check that the center does indeed stock them.
Dress For Success
As a new-ish activity, the outdoor apparel has yet to fully catch up with fatbiking. To be as comfortable as can be on the trail, fatbikers often wear a mélange of gear designed to keep you warm and nimble. This means well insulated pants, several insulating layers plus a wind blocking shell or puff over your upper body; in terms of extremities, this means a good pair of gloves, which both protects against the wind and cold of the handlebar and allows your fingers their full range of motion (we like extra warm Nordic ski gloves, like these), and a warm, comfortable pair of boots (if you don’t have toe clips) or bike shoes. If you are renting a bike that likely just has flat pedals, definitely wear the winter boots (and winter socks) you will be warmest and coziest in.
Pack a Snack
Fatbiking, especially in the bitter cold of winter, burns a lot of energy. You don’t want to have a situation where you crank up a gnarly hill, look back on your accomplishment, and realize you are entirely out of energy for the ride back. Always carry a few granola bars, plenty of water (water, water, water!) and your favorite piece of fruit.
Wear a Pack
One of the benefits of biking as opposed to running or skiing is that it’s easy and not too uncomfortable to wear a light backpack as you adventure. Use your pack to stow extra layers (and the layers you’ve stripped off), keep snacks and drinks on hand, and to carry your phone for taking pictures and staying safe on the trail.
See our review of the REI pack!
You’ve worked hard and explored some new terrain—be sure to share it with someone. Bring some beers or your favorite premixed cocktail or even a wonderfully warming mulled wine for a parking lot après-bike session; you can recount the struggles of the climbs and the excitement of the drops, and perhaps sooth some of the soreness that comes with a successful outing.