By Dan Walton
Traditional transportation often doesnt cut it in the valley especially in the winter which is why some local cyclists are pedalling on mountain bikes with extra-thick wheels, also known as fat bikes.
Riding in the snow on a regular bike is painful to say the least; you get on a big fat bike and you end up grinning the whole time, said Jordie Kirk, who owns a Surly Pugsley model of fat bike. Theyre just plain old fun.
After finding out about the winter-capable bikes online, Jordie had no experience on a fat bike, but decided to head to Bicycle Works in Invermere and placed an order.
You dont get anywhere fast, but you sure have a good time they float nicely in the snow and the tractions great, he said. Its the same as any other bike, just bigger tires.
Jordie doesnt use the fat bike to commute, but he has taken it in a few races, such as the Kootenay Krusher at Nipika Mountain Resort.
It was a good time, he said. There was no special category for fat bikes in that race, meaning Jordie was racing alongside riders on normal mountain bikes.
Fat bikes have heavier frames and offer a slower ride during the warm months, but in the winter, theres no real tradeoff its the only kind of bike that really works.
The fat bike allows valley cyclists to ride the same trails in the winter as they would in the summer, including the Juniper Trail in Radium Hot Springs, and this years favourite the Johnson Trail near Lake Lillian.
With some caution, the bike can be taken on a frozen ice surface, though some snow on the surface helps greatly with traction. For riders that are adamant about riding on Lake Windermeres Whiteway, there are studded tires available for fat bikes.
After acquiring the fat bike last year with no previous experience, Jordie said hes feeling no buyers remorse, and encourages other cyclists to give the rugged bikes a try.