Biking While Fat
In most parts of the United States when spring, summer and fall mountain biking season has come to an end it is time to retire one’s trusty two-wheeled steed until the following year—but not in Stowe! Fatbiking is here for the winter season!
What is a fatbike? An off-road bicycle with oversized tires, typically 3.8 inch or wider, designed for low pressure to allow riding on soft, unstable terrain such as snow. Fatbikes are built around frames with wide forks and even wider rear stays to accommodate the wide rims required to fit theses tires—and they are easily the most fun you can have when the trails turn pure white!
Fatbikes are a party on two wheels, and If you enjoy the thrill of mid-season, dryland rides, just drop the temps a bit, up the fun factor a lot and you have fatbiking! Couple the rush of a new activity with the brisk, clean winter air racing past you—and no endless waiting long lines at the lifts—and you may have just found your new favorite cold weather obsession.
Evan Chismark, local expert and owner of Stowe’s fatbike “base lodge”, Ranch Camp, boasts a shop with an extensive fleet of current model year rental fatbikes for kids and adults by Specialized, Rocky Mountain, Fatback and Surly. Fatbike rentals, sales, service, a trailhead taproom and fast-casual eatery, group rides and events along with thoughtfully sourced soft and hardline gear for the discerning cyclist, all equal an unparalleled LBS encounter like no other.
One highly-anticipated upcoming event and experience is the annual Stowe fatbiking tradition known as “Überwintern Fat Bike Festival”, taking place Saturday, January 11 and sponsored by the aforementioned Ranch Camp, a.k.a, “Party Central”, Stowe Trails Partnership and Mountain Bike Vermont. An antidote to those winter blues, Überwintern is a day of group ride fatbike revelry on powder-packed single track for hearty souls that keep charging through winter on two wheels. With a remote aid station set up at Von Trapp Brewery that includes an outdoor firepit and more fun than one can handle back at RC, it is the must attend event of Winter 2020.
Stowe is unique in the fatbike scene in Vermont as we have hundreds of miles of trails and roads to ride. Unlike many areas that are limited in variety of experiences, we have an ever-growing number of options. Many of our favorite trails from summer, such as our in-town local favorite, Cady Hill Forest, are available to be ridden in the winter with new trail connectors already constructed or planned. In addition, cross-country ski areas such as Trapp Family Lodge have embraced fatbikes as well with an extensive network of beginner, intermediate and advanced trails exclusively dedicated to those that like to get fat.
The type of trails tends to vary as much as during summer, if not at times a bit more. Snow conditions, trail widths and compaction from other users are just some of the factors that help create and mold your level of daring. Many riders prefer packed snow a day or so after a storm versus new; however, colder, below freezing weather, offers better traction than warm. Locals tend to look at trails as falling into three types: Compacted roads, trails compacted by vehicles such as snowmobiles, and singletrack created by skiers and other fatbikers.
No one is going to argue that skiing and boarding with family and friends is a great way to build cherished memories that will last a lifetime, but when you are ready to step out of the ordinary and take your winter adventures to the next level, fatbiking will turn everything you thought you knew about snow sports on its head as you come to learn why the landscape and terrain of Stowe is known far and wide as the ultimate riding destination in the East! Guests of Sun & Ski Inn and Suites that demo or rent a fatbike at Ranch Camp receive a 10% discount and the personal knowledge that they are engaging in a spiritual experience that is not only cathartic but uniquely epic! Now go ride your bike.