P.E.I. fatbikers say the sport is growing on the Island

A group of cycling enthusiasts on P.E.I. say thicker tires, warm clothes and some snow make for perfect riding conditions.

Mountain bikes equipped with thick tires with large tread allow riders to bike through snowy trails

Fatbiking, which involves mountain bikes equipped with thick tires with large tread, allows riders to bike on uneven terrain and through snow in the winter. (Julien Lecacheur/CBC)

A group of cycling enthusiasts on P.E.I. isn't letting the winter weather cool their passion for the sport.

The Fat Tire Riders of P.E.I. say the sport of fatbiking is taking off — with thicker tires, warm clothes and some snow creating perfect riding conditions.

The sport, which involves mountain bikes equipped with thick tires with large tread, allows riders to bike on uneven terrain and through snow in the winter. 

'It's physical activity that's fun. It's adrenaline, it's goals, climbing. It's just everything I love about mountain biking, now I can do it all year long,' says Mike Brazil, who started fatbiking two years ago. (Julien Lecacheur/CBC)

Mike Brazil has been fatbiking on the Island for two years and said the sport's popularity has grown. He said there are about 40 fatbikers riding on P.E.I., but more and more people are getting involved every day.

Fatbiking gives riders the freedom to hit the trails in almost any winter conditions, allowing cycling to become a year-round sport, he said. 

"It's physical activity that's fun. It's adrenaline, it's goals, climbing. It's just everything I love about mountain biking."  

'A highway in the woods' 

Paul Deighan, president of Cycling P.E.I., said until about five years ago, cycling on the Island was limited to summer months. But now as more and more people are picking up fatbiking, he added, there are more trails popping up for people to keeping riding during the winter. 

"The fact that we have and need the groomers I think is also indicative of the fact that there's a very large fatbiking community, they enjoy getting out," says Deighan. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

"The best fatbiking conditions are if you have a lot of snow and it's sort of a wet snow," Deighan said. "Allowing for someone to go out and groom it and then followed immediately with freezing. Then you have almost a highway in the woods, if you like. That's ideal." 

Deighan said when he first started fatbiking he relied on snowshoers to flatten and groom trails. Now, the group has its own groomer, which is used to clean trails all over eastern P.E.I., he added. 

"What the grooming does is it creates a path and packs down the snow so the fatbikes can ride on it," Deighan said.

"There's a great comradery of coming out and riding in cold conditions."  

Best trails for fatbiking 

In addition to Strathgartney Provincial Park, Brookvale Ski Park has also opened 10 kilometres of groomed trails for fatbikers.

Deighan said there are other fatbiking trails at the Winter River Trail and the Riverside Ride along the East Royalty Trail. 

He added that Brookvale Ski Park has fatbikes available to rent for anyone who is interested in trying the sport. 

In addition to the trails in in Strathgartney Provincial Park, Brookvale Ski Park has also opened 10 kilometres of groomed trails for fatbikers. (Julien Lecacheur/CBC)

"If you give it a go you'll find out how much fun it is and how easy it is," Deighan said. 

"It's just challenging the elements being out here on a cold day and not letting winter stop you from getting outdoors and enjoying the tremendous terrain that we have here in P.E.I."