The Evolution of Fat Biking

The Fernie Fat biking community has taken off with new trails, new riders and yes, newer technology which for some bikers means a new fat bike. In the last five years we went from one or two trails available culminating in a 5km loop, to over 40kms plus open for riding. If you ride in the summer, then riding in the winter is a logical extension and if you haven’t tried it because you are stubborn or are sticking your head in the snow you should give it a spin. Spinning is what it is all about. Slow, methodical and peaceful are just a few of the words that come to mind when riding through the quiet forest. It’s a great workout that supplements the dreary ‘pain cave’ whichsomeridersendure daily. Obviously, our legendary powder days mean skiing but mediocre snow days are the new bike days! Whether you are here for a weekend or a season, give it a try! 

Fat Biking Essentials

  1. Obviously, a fat bike. Rent or borrow one first. Rentals are available in multiple places in the valley. If you take the plunge then Straight Line, Gear Hub, Guides Hut and the Ski/Bike Base can hook you up with a new steed.
     
  2. Helmet and eyewear. Wear a bike helmet with a lightweight toque or beanie. A buff is a good option in case it gets cold.  For me, sunglasses work well but some friends wear goggles for the ride down.
     
  3. It’s all about the layers (overdressing is bad). Merino wool is the best as it wicks the moisture away from your skin and can be worn several times before it needs to be washed. Try a merino layer with a bike jersey (for the pockets) over top and then a shell that can cut the wind for the ride down. The ride down is the coldest part of the ride, as you are now a little sweaty so this is where an outer layer truly comes in handy. ‘Less is more’ means dress for ten degrees warmer than it truly is.   
     
  4. Footwear and pedals. Some experts say to go with flat pedals before progressing to clipless. I now have deluxe 45North boots that arrived a couple of Christmas’s ago. They are the bomb and my feet haven’t been cold since. Prior to this I wore merino socks, Shimano shoes and a Pearl Izumi overshoe on top. An alternative option is touse flat pedals and a wear a pair of winter boots. 
     
  5. Hands. Bar Mitts are so toasty that I have taken off my summer bike gloves while riding in the winter.  Personally they are a must if you plan to winter ride. Those who dislike the Bar Mitts because of reduced mobility go for lobster mitts and seem to have great success in keeping their hands warm.   

Where to Ride

  1. Critical mass dictates where the riding will be good. More riders and snow shoers means that the trails get packed down, resulting in better riding!
     
  2. Check your local bike shop for information on the best fat biking trails this winter.   
     
  3. Trailforks is a great resource to use in the summer and winter. Riders post conditions after the ride and can leave comments if the trail is good to go. 
     
  4. Facebook has a public group called Fernie Fat Bike where people ask questions, give trail conditions and post about equipment etc. The group is quite responsive to queries as we are all very involved with the sport. 
     
  5. Strava is another tool that can be used effectively for winter biking. Members of the Fernie Mountain Bike Club have their own feed that you can follow and see rides, duration and photos. 
     
  6. There will be a loop groomed this winter at Montane (stay off Nordic trails please!), Lazy Lizard from the Provincial Park will be groomed regularly, and Fernie Alpine Resort offers grooming as well! Additional loops are in the works, so stay up to date by visiting bikefernie.ca or the Fat Bike group on Facebook!

Above all else, get out and have fun. Remember, trails may be multi-use and include snow shoers and trail runners. And never, ever fat bike on Nordic groomed trails!