As the trails turn from dirt to snow, a growing number of locals have started swapping their mountain bikes for fat bikes.
According to Rob and Jennifer King, avid fat bikers and owners of Sparwood’s Sasquatch Cyclery, the season is well on its way following last week’s snowfall.
“What we always say to people is if you love mountain biking, you will love fat biking,” said Jennifer, who added that having mountain biking experience aids the transition to fat biking.
According to Rob, fat biking is especially beneficial for avid mountain bikers as a means of staying fit throughout the winter.
“If you’re a serious biker, keeping those same muscles working is a really good part of your training program,” said Rob.
“It’s pedaling a bike but it’s a different experience than being on dirt – you’ve got these big balloon tires, snow conditions, it’s a totally different experience.”
According to Rob, snow conditions and tire pressure are two critical differences those new to fat biking must understand.
“I would say fat biking over the last few years has been the fastest growing winter sport,” said Jennifer, who has already noticed shortages of everything from tires to stud kits.
“This year, what we’ve seen through our shop is that there is a huge demand and the supply is low – so if you want to fat bike you need to go out and find one fast.”
Residents can adventure up 50 kilometres of groomed fat biking trails in Sparwood, managed by the Sparwood Trails Alliance (STA), along with a number of groomed trails in the Montane and Ridgemont areas in Fernie.
According to the Kings, grooming, a practice essential to fat biking trails, is done both via machines and snowshoes.
“It really does help when the conditions are groomed, because it becomes pretty challenging in anything more than four inches of snow,” said Jen.
“It helps the groomers when the snowshoe-ers work together with the groomers to help get it packed down first for them, or vise versa.”
The Kings further recommend those going out for the first time to purchase studded tires and Bar Mitts, dress in layers, and bring along an extra pair of gloves.
“With the icy conditions, the freeze-thaw that we have here, we get a lot of ice so many people really like the idea of the studded fat bike tires because you get that extra grip on the ice,” said Rob.
Those looking to get their fat bikes or mountain bikes serviced may do so year-round at the Kings’ bike shop, Sasquatch Cyclery.
Anyone interested in ‘stomping’ fat biking trails via showshoes is encouraged to head to the Elk Valley Hikes Facebook group.
The Kings also host weekly fat biking rides in Sparwood on Tuesdays at 5 p.m. To stay up to date with meet up locations and pop up rides, head to the Sparwood Fatbike Facebook page.