Here is how to get in on the winter fat biking fun
After going for a winter hike through Durham Forest north of Toronto, it was hard not to notice the fat bikes snaking their way through trees piled high with snow with the sun breaking through the canopy. It was quite the stunning scene, and surely enough to convince anyone there to give fat biking a try. It could be one of the fastest-growing winter sports. But where to start?What is Fat Biking?
Fat biking is a type of cycling that is designed for use on snowy, icy, or other challenging terrains. The bikes used for fat biking have wide tires, typically 3.8 inches or wider, which provide extra stability and traction compared to regular bikes. This makes them ideal for riding on snow and other slippery surfaces. Fat biking is a relatively new sport, but it has quickly gained popularity and has become a staple winter activity for many outdoor enthusiasts.Why Choose a Fat Bike?
There are several reasons why someone might choose a fat bike. First, fat biking provides an opportunity to explore the great outdoors during the winter months when many other outdoor activities are not possible. It's a fun and unique way to experience the winter landscape and get some exercise at the same time. Additionally, fat biking can be a great way to break up the monotony of indoor workouts and get some fresh air and sunshine.
Another reason to choose a fat bike is its versatility. Fat bikes can be used for a variety of riding styles, including touring, racing, and recreational riding. This makes them suitable for riders of all skill levels and interests.
What to pick
When choosing a fat bike, there are several factors to consider. The first is the frame material. Fat bikes are typically made from aluminum, carbon fiber, or steel. Aluminum frames are lightweight and affordable, while carbon fiber is the lightest and most expensive option. Steel frames are durable and provide a comfortable ride, but are also the heaviest option.
Another important factor to consider is the tire width. Fat bike tires typically range from 3.8 inches to 5 inches in width. Wider tires provide more stability and traction on snow and other slippery surfaces but are also slower and more difficult to pedal. Narrower tires are faster and easier to pedal but provide less stability and traction.
Suspension is another variable. Some fat bikes have suspension systems, while others do not. The suspension provides a smoother ride and helps absorb bumps and rough terrain, but it also adds weight and complexity to the bike as well as maintenance costs. However, if the plan for fat biking involves cross-country trails and other varied terrains, it is a good idea.
There are also plenty of fat e-bikes on the market, which are only going to get more popular. Go further afield, have more fun? Why not. Just make sure you get one with a high-quality battery, you don't want to get stuck out in the woods pushing a fat bike home.Where to go?
One might find that a lot of popular places for mountain biking are also popular during the winter for the fat biking set. Here are a few of the top places in Ontario, Quebec, the Maritimes, British Columbia, and Alberta to get started:Ontario
Hardwood Ski and Bike, Ontario: Hardwood Ski and Bike is a fat biking destination in Ontario offering groomed trails, rental bikes, and a lodge for post-ride relaxation. It is located in Oro-Medonte.
Arrowhead Provincial Park, Ontario: Arrowhead Provincial Park is a popular winter destination in Ontario that offers fat biking trails through its scenic forests and hills. The park is located near Huntsville and is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
Durham Forest: Located north of Toronto, this under-the-radar park offers free fat biking trails during the winter, although there is a small parking charge. The trail system has plenty of easy terrain and some challenging routes as well. And, it is drop-dead gorgeous after a snowfall.Quebec
Parc national des Monts-Valin, Quebec: This national park offers well-groomed trails for fat biking, as well as stunning views of the surrounding mountains. It is located in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region of Quebec and is a popular destination for winter sports enthusiasts.
Monts-Valin in Quebec (photo: Steve Deschenes)
Parc national de la Jacques-Cartier, Quebec: Jacques-Cartier National Park is a popular destination for winter sports, including fat biking. The park offers well-maintained trails that wind through the stunning landscapes of the Laurentian Mountains.
Parc du Mont-Orford, Quebec: Mont-Orford Park is a large park located near Sherbrooke in the Eastern Townships of Quebec that offers an awesome 30-km network of trails for fat biking with options for beginners and experts alike.East Coast
The Fundy Trail Parkway, New Brunswick: This coastal trail offers stunning views of the Bay of Fundy and rugged terrain ideal for fat biking adventures.
Martinique Beach Provincial Park, Nova Scotia: With its extensive network of trails, this park is a popular destination for fat bikers, with sandy beaches and scenic forest routes to explore.
Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia: With its rugged coastline and mountainous terrain, this park offers some of the most challenging and scenic fat biking opportunities in the Maritimes.Alberta
Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park, Alberta: With over 60 km of well-groomed trails, this park offers a variety of routes for fat bikers, ranging from easy to challenging.
Fat biking in Canmore, Alberta (photo: Jeff Bartlett @photojbartlett)
Kananaskis Country, Alberta: With its stunning mountain landscapes and extensive network of trails, Kananaskis Country is a popular destination for fat biking in Alberta.
Banff National Park, Alberta: With its rugged mountain terrain and scenic lakes and valleys, Banff offers some of the most challenging and breathtaking fat biking opportunities in Alberta.British Columbia
Mount Washington, Vancouver Island: Mount Washington is a popular destination for fat bikers on Vancouver Island offering a variety of trails for all skill levels on its 15-km network.
Fernie, British Columbia: There is no end to the amazing fat biking in the Kootenays, and Fernie is smack dab in the middle of it. Fernie Alpine Resort is a great place to start with more than 10 kilometres of groomed trails.
Silver Star Mountain Resort, Vernon: With its well-groomed trails and scenic mountain views, Silver Star Mountain Resort is a popular destination for fat bikers, offering a variety of routes for all skill levels.