Tired of the rain? Go play in the snow!
For Puget Sound area bicyclists, the winter months tend to mean one of three things: fewer bike rides; indoor training rides or slower, wet and long base-miles in the saddle.
Beat the monotony and grayness by trying something new this winter: snow biking!
Snow biking, also called fat biking, has been growing quickly in the last few years as hundreds of people are flocking to cross-ountry trails with fat-tired mountain bikes instead of skis.
While the pace may be slower than other disciplines of bicycling, you still get a good workout and plenty of laughs.
And Winthrop, Wash., just a few hours outside of Seattle, is the perfect place to give it a try.
"Last winter I had my first experience at fat biking over in Winthrop, Wash. I had heard about fat bikes from the local bike scene for a while now. Being a cyclist and growing up on snow, fat biking was something I just had to try,” said Heidi Wood from Seattle.
While the warm afternoon sun provided for some slow-moving, tricky snow conditions, Wood said the overall experience was great fun.
“It was a blast making your way up a hill in order to come back down like you were floating on a cloud, knowing if you do wipe out a soft snow bank was there to catch you,” she said. “I’d highly recommend everyone (even non-cyclists) to give it a try! It was a great workout and provides lots of laughs.”
Anne Strombeck from Colorado had a similar experience, trying fat biking for the first time in Winthrop.
“The temperatures were six below zero; I really didn’t know what I was going to be in for,” Strombeck recalled. “I joined a demo at the local cross country ski course in town and they fit me to a bike. The bike was monstrous compared to me at 40 lbs with gigantic tires. At first I thought I wasn’t going to be able to move the thing. But as soon as I got the four-inch tires (at 3psi) onto snow I felt like an astronaut on the moon. The bike was so nimble and responsive, gliding through the snow, bouncing all the way. As soon as I hit my first downhill, I was in love.”
Strombeck compared fat biking to riding a very capable, full-suspension mountain bike.
“The fat bike did not falter while plowing through 6 inches of snow and smoothly coasted on the groomed sections of the trail,” she said. “I would encourage any mountain bike enthusiast to give this bike a try. It is fun, nimble and quick in the snow. Actually, I would recommend fat biking to anyone who loves to ride their bike and play in the snow; just remember to bundle up!”
But before you pack your car and head down to Winthrop, be warned. From what we’ve been told, the danger of fat biking is that you might end up liking it so much, you’ll spend your entire winter in the snow, debating how you are going to convince your significant other to let you add yet another bike to your stable.
Pictures courtesy of Methow Valley Photography.