If you’re anything like me you feel a mixture of happiness and sadness when winter approaches and the temperature starts to drop. For one thing, it means ski season is on the way. But, on the other hand, it means putting your mountain bike in the garage for the next few months. Fortunately, there is a way for us to bridge the gap in the cold, winter months.
Fat Tire biking has been increasing in popularity over the last few years. I remember riding through Red Rocks Canyon not too long ago seeing one these ‘mountain bikes’ flying by wondering, “what are those?” Upon further investigation I would come to find out Fat Tire mountain bikes, while becoming popular year rounders for some, have been around for a while and have been most widely used to keep on riding that sweet single track in the snow and ice.
Now that you have cleaned the coffee off your computer that you spewed of your mouth in excitement, let’s talk about 5 things you need to know before you Fat Tire the snow.
1. Fat Tire Bikes are Mountain Bikes – With its increasing popularity over the last few years, more and more companies are making Fat Tire mountain bikes. You can get the full range of bikes from hard tail to soft tail to a fully rigid frame. They ride like mountain bikes and you can ride them anywhere. Interestingly enough, the wider tires actually make it a great bike for those getting into mountain biking in general.
2. The Conditions Will Change Your Experience – You will more than likely run the gamut of emotions your first season of winter riding. You’ll find conditions you love, and some that you hate. A couple of inches of fresh snow will make you feel like you have stumbled on the greatest sport ever, while 5+ inches of snow will leave you questioning your sanity (probably). The deep powder combined with the terrain underneath gets the bike squirly pretty quick. Be patient, and take your time. And always, be careful of ice, especially in the corners. Snow that has been on the ground for a few days will more than likely have frozen patches.
3. Keep Your Feet Dry – Snow is wet and snow is cold. There aren’t too many things that will end your ride faster then cold, wet feet. It will probably be a good idea to invest in some winter riding boots. I may or may not have wrapped my feet in plastic bags and put them in my shoes to keep my feet dry. I don’t recommend this practice, but it might be helpful in a pinch.
4. Flat Pedals are Your Friend – While clipless pedals are God’s gift to humanity for warm weather riding, they can become a problem when riding in the winter. You’ll find yourself having to knock the snow out of your cleats on a pretty consistent basis so yo can clip in properly. Clipless shoes also may not be the conducive to hiking your bike in the snow. And if you’re new to this, having your feet clipped to your pedals might not be the best idea.
5. Dress Appropriately – Snow on the ground means cold in the air. And sometimes, it can be really, really cold. The trick (for any cold weather sport, really) is to find the balance between staying warm and staying dry. You’ll quickly notice riding in the snow is a little bit harder than riding on the dirt which means more physical exertion and more sweating. Sweating is not bad except when it doesn’t dry quickly; then it becomes miserable. Layers are your friend; sweat wicking layers.
Let us know what you think about your Fat Tire mountain bike experiences.
Pro Tip: Enjoy Fat tire after a day of riding the Fat Tires.
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