26. Get Fatbiking!

Why YOU Need a Fatbike.

Winter is coming.2016-2-frozen-beaver-2016

And while that may be a bad thing for people who play games on thrones, it’s not a bad thing for people who play bikes. Not bad? Pfft. It’s awesome. It’s awesome because for many cyclists, the coming of winter used to mean the end of the riding season: No more single track; no more Saturday morning group rides; no more weekend races or midweek series; and no more general biking awesomeness to soothe our restless souls.

But now, thanks to the magic of a gigantically wide fork that holds a super squishy tire, the upcoming blanket of snow means the start the fatbike season. Woot woot.

You see while we may not have been on the trails in past winters, the trails were still out there. They were just under a blanket of snow and not very fun to ride  on our regular MTB tires. Yeah, the sweet single track, the same climbs, and the same trees were all out there, longing for us, pining for us (especially the trees–see what I did there) but they just weren’t possible until a fatbike came strutting its stuff into our local bike shops.

Yes, I know, for people who already have a fatbike, they’re awesome any time of year, but they’re especially awesome when there’s snow. It’s a proven fact.

By the way, for anyone who hasn’t been in a bike shop lately (or for roadies) a fatbike is:

…a bike with tires that are 3.8” wide (or wider), and rims that are at least 2.6” wide. They are designed for riding on soft unstable terrain, such as SNOW, sand, bogs and mud…

Thank you Wikipedia.

What, you don’t have one yet? Well, here’s the reason why you should buy a fatbike right now: Um, can ride a bike any day, any where, in any condition. That is all.

Need another reason?  See that sweet picture in the header (The one taken by Ted Anderton of Apex Race Photography). See the smile.  Yup, awesome.

However, if you want an official Top Ten List of reasons. Here it is:

Top Ten Reasons Why YOU Need a Fatbike This Winter

  1. Fatbikes are faster in the snow than you think. Seriously, fatbikes are wickedly, surprisingly, fast.
  2. Fatbikes are funner in the snow than you think. Seriously, fatbikes are wickedly, surprisingly, fun. Riding a fatbike is as close to being a kid as you can get. Giant tires. Bouncy ride. Big mittens. Snot everywhere. The only thing missing is a Gilligan’s Island lunch box (with matching “L’il Buddy” thermos, natch), a PB&J sandwich, and a glass of milk.
  3. Fatbikes look really cool. Since they’re so new, you get to be the center of attention everywhere you ride. People will stop in their tracks to ogle your beefy tires and massive forks, and bask in your general awesomeness for riding such a boss looking bike.
  4. Fatbiking is an awesomely huge challenge. Riding in the snow is a great way to push your riding style. Aside from the constantly changing trail conditions—which will actually change quite drastically during your ride—the technique required is pretty significant, and that’s a cool thing. Cornering, weight distribution, climbing, descending. They’re all different. Own it. And even though you can ride anywhere and don’t really need a groomed trail, as the sport becomes more popular, many trail centres are grooming trails especially for fatbikes. Sweet.  Check it out:  Fatbiking in Bracebridge
  5. Fatbiking is more fun than cross country skiing. Okay, maybe it’s not, but at least you won’t need a different roof rack. Wait, I take that retraction back. It’s way more fun!
  6. When you dress for winter fatbiking, NO MORE CRAMMING YOUR BODY INTO A SPANDEX KIT. Trust me, this is a good thing for all of the people who have to look at us wearing our riding kits. Or maybe it’s just a good thing for all of the people who have to look at ME wearing MY riding kit. Sorry people.
  7. When you fatbike, all of that winter food that you’ve been jamming down your gullet now has a way to get burned off. So eat the whole bag of Doritos. Double up on the poutine. Cheese? Yes please.
  8. When you ride a fatbike throughout the winter, you get to keep riding an actual bike, instead of sitting on a spin bike or rollers in your basement or gym, pedalling like crazy to get nowhere. (I’m kidding, that’s not fair to say. On a spin bike, you don’t travel nowhere. You travel from a room with a dry floor, to a room with a floor splotted with your sweat drops.)
  9. You know Monday mornings in the dead of winter, when everyone gets to work, and talks about the game they watched, or the roast they ate, or the movie they went to see? Not you. Nope, you get to say “Yeah, I went for a bike ride. Mm hm. On my bike. Yeah, it was cold and snowing, but, you know, I’m pretty boss, so I rode. Oh, you stayed in, did you….”. If you have a mic, this is a good time to drop it.
  10. Crashing in the snow is awesome. It doesn’t hurt as much as dirt because snow is usually softer, you give yourself a sweet self-inflicted snow job, and then you get to look like a drunken infant as you bum your way out of the two feet of snow that lines the trail. You’ll laugh so hard. And so will anyone who is watching. Which brings me to the final reason…
  11. The people who ride fatbikes are statistically proven to be way cooler, more awesomer, and just plain radder than people who don’t. True fact.

That was 11 reasons. Yeah, fatbikes are just too awesome for 10 reasons. 11 awsome reasons why you need a fatbike this winter, and 11 awesome reasons why fatbiking is awesome.

So you see, while the coming of winter used to mean that our bodies could spend a few months recuperating before the spring season, or letting the poison ivy in our blood stream take a break, it also meant storing our bikes for the winter, and starting our off-season exercise regimes, which typically included competitive sweater wearing, solo cookie eating contests, and a weekly series of weight gains, body flab increases, and missing our bike(s) like the desert misses the rain(s), but it’s almost 2017, and all those things are in the past.   Fatbiking, baby. Boom.

Now that I’ve convinced you to buy a fatbike (What, you needed 12 reasons?), it’s probably time to get to your bike shop, or if you live in Toronto, to go to the fall bike show (on October 15 Fall Bike Show).  Although I won’t be there because I’ll be racing Dan Marshall’s Sausage Suit ITT

You should go to my shop.  My shop is awesome–and I’m willing to bet if you tell them Team Colin sent you, they’ll probably throw in a sweet discount: Cycle Solutions

I don’t often go to other shops because I have such a strong relationship with the staff at Cycle Solutions, but if you can’t make it to the east end of the city, here are a few shops that I think are pretty awesome, either because they sponsor races and promote the sport, or because they have treated me well when I walked off the street and visited them: Evolution Cycles is a great shop in Richmond Hill; if you live downtown, try Bateman’s Cycle; if you live in Newmarket, go to Spoke-O-Motion; and if you live in Oshawa, Impala Bicycles is pretty good. Honestly, every local bike shop is awesome.  If you don’t already have YOUR bike shop, visit one of these and start a relationship.

Oh, and as an added bonus, after you buy your fatbike (not if you buy one…), there’s a fatbike race series. Yeah, a fatbike race series. In its second year, The 45NRTH Ontario Fatbike Race Series, presented by Substance Projects and Cycle Solutions, has 5 races scheduled from December to February. You can’t beat that. For someone like me, it’s great to have the opportunity to race poorly in the spring, summer, fall AND now the winter. Also, riding alone in the summer is okay, but in the winter, with shorter days that get dark way to early, it could be a problem if you crash. While crashing in the snow is less hurty, a bad crash could mean being alone…in the woods…in the dark woods..trying to shuffle back to the trail head…alone…for help. Be safe and ride with a friend. Better yet, ride with a bunch of friends at a fatbike race. Get more info here: 45NRTH Ontario Fatbike Series

You can thank me later. I’ll be the one grinning from snot encased ear, to snot encased ear, covered in frost from multiple self-inflicted snow jobs.

Before I finish, Team Colin is going to make a proclamation. There is a good deal of debate online about whether it’s a “fat bike”, a “fatbike”, or a “fat-bike”, and it’s time someone made the call. I’m making the call. It’s a fatbike. I’m making this proclamation because I don’t like separation of the word “fat” in Fat Bike, Fat-Bike contains an unnecessary hyphen (unless you like that sort of thing), and fatbike is a cool new word—just like the sport!

One word or two, hyphen or not, whatever you choose to call it, there’s only one word needed to describe fatbiking: AWE. SOME.

Ride.

PS

More on HOW to fatbike, in my next blog post, “Fatbike 101”.

In the meantime, you can read about my first ever fatbike experience, on my first ever blog, in My First Blog!

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