Fearless on the Fat Bike
Not Just for the Fanatics
They look funky, have a weird ride to them, and are not
built for speed – yet they are a blast to ride. A ride on a fat bike is truly a
unique experience that is highly recommended!
Monday was fairly cold and cloudy on the hill, with a steady north wind – perfect for riding on snow and ice, with mud at a minimum. I’d never ridden a fat bike before, but have seen folks cruising along North Hollow on them all winter, and resolved “today’s the day.”
My friend Doon at Green Mt. Bikes in Rochester agreed to lend me a sweet Kona demo for a few hours, talked me through the basics, and sent me off.
A fat bike is basically an old-school, hard tail mountain bike equipped with beastly tires, ten gears on the back, and studded pedals (no clip-ins). The idea is pretty simple = it’s a bike designed to be ridden on the most difficult terrain, everything a Vermont winter can throw at you. Apparently, elsewhere fat bikes are popular to ride on sand.
It’s easy to see why. The 5-inch wide tires provide a ride that is really hard to describe, which is why you should try it yourself. I’m almost 60 years old and not an avid biker, but I found the fat bike surprisingly fun, and somewhat addicting! The traction and shock absorption from the tires is incredible, taking all the strain off the hands and wrists. The bike just floats over ruts and chunks of snow like they don’t exist, and the gears provide just the right ratio to churn up long slippery hills at low speed.
At the end of the day, it was hard to take the fat bike back to the shop. Reflecting upon the experience, what was remarkable was that the ride gave me a feeling of confidence on the bike. I endured a horrific bike crash years ago that my psyche has never really recovered from, but somehow I felt relaxed riding the fat bike, a liberating feeling that had been missing all those years.
In the weeks we have left before spring arrives, try out a fat bike for an outdoor activity that will make you look forward to winter next year!