Fats bike driving gaining traction as a winter exercise at Tahoe
There are a couple of days on the tail finish of the winter when the circumstances are good.
Not for shredding or ripping down a mountainside. No, on lately, depart the skis and snowboards within the storage.
When a winter rainstorm is adopted by a biting chilly snap, leaving the agency snowpack with a crunchy layer of crust, a rising variety of recreationists are dusting off their bikes.
Fats bikes, that’s.
“Fats biking is tremendous enjoyable when circumstances are proper,” mentioned Anthony Cupaiuolo, proprietor of First Tracks Productions, a digital media firm primarily based in South Lake Tahoe, and avid fats biker. “For me and one in every of my mates, we really feel prefer it’s an excellent addition to the totally different toys we’ve to play with right here (at Tahoe).”
Cupaiuolo mentioned he was pushed to strive his hand at fats biking throughout Tahoe’s latest string of drought years (2012-16). The predominance of powder-less days, Cupaiuolo discovered, offered a possibility to traverse mountain terrain on wheels — huge ones.
“The times that I’m going to take it out are the times it’s not good to be on skis and snowboards,” Cupaiuolo added.
Earlier than we roll additional into the ins and outs of fats biking within the Sierra Nevada, let’s pump the brakes and look at this distinctive winter exercise.
WHAT’S A FAT BIKE?
Fats bikes are bikes with over-sized tires a minimum of 4 inches huge which might be designed for low floor strain to permit for driving on tender, unstable terrain.
They had been first invented within the late Eighties for winter driving on the Iditarod Path in Alaska. Joe Redington, who invented the famed sled-dog race, conceived a biking model of the Iditarod. Initially dubbed the Iditabike (now the Iditarod Path Invitational), the race requested bikers to trek 210 miles alongside the primary part of the sled-dog course.
Since, fats bikes have slowly grown in recognition throughout the nation, catching on first within the Midwest, the place the constant chilly temperatures, flat landscapes and long-lasting snowpack make for good fats bike circumstances.
“It’s a special method to get out on the snow and benefit from the winter with out having to study the talents of snowboarding or shopping for additional tools,” mentioned Sally Jones, supervisor of the Tahoe Donner Cross Nation Ski Space, which affords fats biking on its groomed trails.
Jones mentioned buyer request was the primary purpose the resort determined to present fats bikes a whirl in 2015.
Together with snow, fats bikes can be ridden throughout filth, mud and pavement — in different phrases, anyplace you need to take it. The cumbersome rubber tires can ease by means of muddy hairpins, glide over sand dunes, monitor easily over rocks, and float throughout crusty snow.
“There are specific occasions when the fats bike simply is smart,” mentioned Cupaiuolo, who pointed to a day in April when, with a placing view of Lake Tahoe and his canine Emmie working alongside his outsized tires, he crunched down terrain within the Spooner Summit and Kingsbury Grade space.
SLOW AND STEADY
This begs the query, is driving a fats bike on snow as straightforward as, nicely, driving a motorbike on pavement?
Brief reply: no.
“It’s going to be much more work than a traditional bike trip,” Cupaiuolo mentioned.
To that finish, Jones mentioned anybody who jumps into fats biking must be accustomed to driving a mountain bike and utilizing its gear system.
“We encourage of us to remain on the better trails as a result of it may be fairly troublesome,” Jones mentioned. “They’re so much slower and more durable to pedal within the snow than an everyday mountain bike. I might not suggest it for a first-time bike rider. It could be difficult to handle the altering of gears and the stability and coping with the additional element of snow, which isn’t as constant because the filth we trip in the summertime.”
What’s extra, Jones mentioned inexperienced bikers would possibly find yourself doing extra strolling than driving, which, in flip, makes the terrain more difficult for these of their rear-view.
“The very last thing we would like of us to do is to get off and begin strolling on the steeper terrain,” she mentioned. “That simply places holes within the snow, which is difficult for the individuals behind them.”
A SPRING THING
However, once more, the circumstances need to be excellent for enjoyable and environment friendly fats biking on snowy Tahoe terrain. Jones mentioned the area’s snowfall final yr was so sturdy and fixed that “it wasn’t conducive to enjoyable driving, since you would simply sink in too deep.”
Added Cupaiuolo: “We get huge dumps of snow right here, and while you get 10 toes of snow in per week, that’s an excessive amount of snow to get on a motorbike.”
Sometimes, the very best time of the yr for fats biking, Jones and Cupaiuolo agreed, is the springtime. Jones added that anybody fascinated by fats biking at Tahoe Donner all year long ought to first examine the resort’s grooming report, which can notify guests when fats biking is permitted on any given day.
“We are likely to steer individuals extra towards the spring — we will by no means assure — nevertheless it’s extra prone to be good circumstances,” she continued. “It’s simply not like snowboarding the place you may exit in any situation and have enjoyable; you do need to have the suitable circumstances.
“However when it’s good, it’s actually good.”
Notably, Northstar California and Kirkwood Mountain Resort are different resorts within the higher Tahoe space that provide fats biking on groomed cross-country trails.