Each year when the snow starts to fall, a collective shudder rumbles through the biking community. The cold weather and precipitation mean that trails begin to shut down for the year, and cyclists put away their favorite tool for exercise and excitement.
Luckily for the many people who love mountain biking, a new breed of cycle began to pop up around the shops in the early 1990s. Bearing a wide frame with large and deeply treaded tires, fat bikes took off in popularity after 2010. This new style has allowed mountain biking to become an all-year and all-terrain sport. It wasn't long before people starting taking these bikes, designed for winter use, into the deep sand of beaches, lakeshores, and deserts across the globe. Mountain biking has taken over the most unexpected of places and seasons and has given bike enthusiasts a whole new world of exploration, fun, and fitness.
While fat biking does allow you to greatly expand your riding possibilities, there are some rules to follow when it comes to keeping trails in good condition:
Some of the places that have adopted fat biking on a large scale are not normally thought of as popular places to mountain bike, particularly in the Midwest. Take Minnesota, for example, where the Department of Natural Resources has groomed nearly 80 miles of trails specifically to accommodate the extra-wide tires. Lester Park and Mission Creek near the town of Duluth are becoming local meccas for the new sport. Four bike shops sprouted in Marquette, Michigan, a town of 20,000 people, which lets you know how much its people like to spend their time pushing pedals across the 70 miles of nearby trails. The frozen lakes of Madison, Wisconsin, have had an explosion of fat bike activity over the past few years in a place normally only frequented by ice fishers. Vermont is another unexpected place becoming known as a leader in the adoption and development of fat biking trails. The Kingdom Trails, outside the town of East Burke, provides bikers with exclusive trail access. They would normally have to compete with skiers and snowshoers.
Out west, the state of Washington has the single largest system of winter trails anywhere in the lower 48 at the Methow Valley Nordic Center. Although fat bikes are only allowed on 18 of the 120 miles of trails, the beautiful terrain makes for a great destination for anyone within road trip distance. Breckenridge, Colorado, has established itself as the heart of the Rocky Mountain fat biking scene with the Gold Run Nordic Center or the B&B Trailhead, which alone offers four trails to choose from. Ketchum, Idaho is another great ski town that offers people several chances to jump on their bikes in winter along the robust Wood River Trail around town or on the Durrance Loop just to the north. There are so many reasons to visit Park City, Utah, in winter, and fat bike riders will find a vast trail system that includes fat biking at Round Valley.