That Bike is Fat

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Dec 19, 2013 | By Whitney James

For the New Year, there’s nothing better than picking up a ridiculous sport with an equally ridiculous name. And the sport to fit the bill? Fat biking. Also known as snow biking, these souped-up mountain bikes are making fresh tracks in ski towns across the nation.

Originally invented for riding in the deep Alaskan winter and touring New Mexican sand, fat bikes range in build and weight to fit your adventure needs. You’re likely to run into a Salsa or Surly model at the resort rental shop, but big brands like Specialized to Trek are blowing up their big wheels, too.

So what’s with the name? Fat bike tires reach sizes of up to 4.8” wide and come in the popular 29” variety as well as the standard 26”, giving them an extra super-sized look. They’re also ridden at low pressure in order to provide traction over any kind of intimidating terrain, from gravel to snow.

Frames often sport multiple water bottle cages, which I’m pretty sure are for beer. The bikes are easier to ride than you’d think, and they open up a world of winter fun from flying down a ski hill to sliding along on your favorite summer singletrack.

This season, incorporate some fat biking into your annual ski trip. If you’re headed to the Colorado Rockies like me, you’ve got to check out the destinations below.


Bear Creek Trail, Telluride

One of the first resorts to begin renting fat bikes, Telluride offers superb trail options for biking on snow. Pick up your gear at the top-notch outfitter, Paragon Outdoors. Depending on your gumption, either hit the free chairlift for a wild ride back down or take the more tame, 5 mile out-and-back Bear Creek Trail. You’ll earn your après-fatty either way.

Maroon Creek Road, Aspen

You might have seen Maroon Bells in all their glory, but you probably haven’t seen them after busting your you-know-what up the closed, unplowed road in the middle of winter. The road is used mainly by snowmobiles and hard-core Aspen triathletes, and you’ll be the only fatty in sight. And even better, one of only a handful of tourists. Just be sure to ask before crashing the hot-chocolate shack (below).

Gothic Road, Crested Butte

My to-do list this winter? Crested Butte. The home of the oldest mountain bike club in the world, the town sports not only world class skiing but endless singletrack. Get the feel for your fatty on the extensive bike paths around town, then check out the insanely scenic Gothic Road. Who knows, you might just see me grinding up the hill on a Surly.

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Images ©Whitney James via Flickr.