Forever fat: Why I love this way of cycling, 12 months a year
It's been a weird winter for weather throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. That's definitely the case here on the west coast of the island.
I can't say we won't get any more major snowfalls, but the snow we got earlier in the winter took quite the cutting.
Regardless of whether we get more snow or not, spring is not far away.
When the snow is completely gone, many winter riders will jump back to skinny tires and hit the road to begin training for another season of road cycling. Others will flock for mountain bike trails.
Bottom line; it's time to think about hanging up the fat bike until next winter.
Well, not quite.
12 months of fat
My initial fat bike objective was to get me outside riding during our normally brutal winters. Which it did, and it served me well to break up the winter to this point.
However, fat bikes are made for all seasons.
Despite the association with winter, these bikes are still mountain bikes and they're not just for pedalling through fluffy snow.
Fat bikes are made to ride anywhere, over any type of landscape, especially bog-filled woods with mud. Lots of mud. The dirtier the better.
You can go your own way...
The group of winter cyclists that I've been riding with are primarily roadies, and most of us are eager to hit the pavement again.
Due to the unseasonably mild, snow-lackluster of a winter, we've already notched a few big rides on the highways over the last few weeks which is pretty much unheard of in Corner Brook — in particular, last winter.
When the snow is fully melted and the trees are in leaf, a lot of road cyclists, like myself, now have another option this summer — fat biking.
Addicted to fat
What started out as a winter pastime for Loyal Squires, is now an all-year round sport.
You may remember Squires from a couple weeks back.
He runs the fat bike blog and Facebook group Fatbike Republic – http://fatbikerepublic.blogspot.ca – which helps connect fellow fatties throughout the province.
He got so caught up with his love for the colossal tires that he decided to sell his mountain bike and buy a second fat bike specifically for non-winter riding.
"When I was going riding, I was reaching for my fat bike even though it had no suspension — I was reaching for that more because it was just more fun, I had more traction — it was just more enjoyable."
Primarily a mountain bike rider, Squires had been riding a full suspension mountain bike for a number of years. Like me, he wanted to ride during the winter and got himself a fat bike a few years ago.
Now his winter biking solution is an all year passion.
The bike formula now applies to fat bikes
So why was it so important for Squires to get a new bike specifically for non-winter riding?
Well, in the world of cycling there's a little formula that's used to help determine how many bikes you should own: n + 1 where "n" is the number of bikes you already own.
Seriously, if you've learned anything from my series this winter it should be how addictive cycling is.
But really, Squires got the second fat bike when he realized a fat bike with suspension is more advantageous throughout the rest of the year when not riding on snow.
"You're hitting more rocks, you're going over more hills and you're hitting (tree) stumps and that sort of thing and you want the suspension."
He also prefers his fat bike to a mountain bike now because the wide tires lend more traction on the rocks, dirt and roots.
It's not just him either. Squires says from the original group of winter fat bike riders he started with a few years ago, most of the riders have done similar things and upgrades.
Now there's a fat bike community on the East Coast that has gone from winter to 12 months of the year.
Non-winter fat riding. What's different?
It's going to be a dirty ol' time, most likely.
Especially in the shoulder seasons.
Winter fat bikers should expect a messy spring and fall when trails are riddled with puddles of mud. Make sure you have fenders on the bike, because you're not coming home clean.
Dirt is fun. Keep that in mind. And good for the skin. I think, anyway.
Summer is a cleaner time to ride, but you'll have to battle with hot temperatures, so bring more water than you did over the winter.
Besides equipping your bike with fenders, you'll also need to blow up those under-inflated fat tires that helped grip the snow all winter.
And, if you went with studs, you won't want those anymore either.
Enjoy riding through the back-country, mountain bike trails, woods roads. Basically, anywhere mountain bikes can go a fat bike can, too. Though, you'll be slower on a fat bike.
Fat for me?
I was eager to ride my fat bike when I bought it at the end of last summer.
Intended solely for winter riding, I did ride it quite a bit in the fall.
It made for relaxing evening rides exploring new places, via trails and woods roads, listening to leaves crunch beneath my large tires.
It was a welcome change of pace when nightfall set in early and riding on the road wasn't safe.
It's also when I started adventuring in new territory and laying out some routes that would eventually become my winter riding places.
I think it's fair to say you'll see more fat bikes roaming the west coast this summer than past years.
It's not going to be my first choice, but it will be nice to mix it up on weekend camping trips with some fat bike rides.
I'm too addicted to neon Lycra, and the terrible tan lines that us road cyclists wear as a badge of honour.
Let's not mention the unexplainable leg shaving.
Seriously, it feels nice on the bed sheets.
I am a cliché of an adult that spends too much time riding a bike.
See you on the road.