A series exploring the best outdoor experiences in the Twin Cities
Festive Fat Trackin’
Let it snow! The white makes winter riding all the more fun, and Minnesota embraces the fat bike craze in all of its plumpness.
If you don’t already ride one, you probably want one. Could be you are only a casual fan of cycling, and for sure not when it’s cold enough to freeze a memory. But you’ve seen the portly bikes all over the place and admit it—that looks like fun.
Mountain biking has been with us since the 70s, rolling highs and lows of the sport’s many moods and disciplines and keeping us fixed with handlebar-wide grins out on our favorite woodsy trails. Innovative riders keen to extend their riding seasons devised all manner of upgrades to keep bikes upright and rolling through winter’s harshest. Studded tires were not uncommon sights around these icy climes, and many successful ice racing series remain staples for the dedicated two-wheeled crowd.
Fat bikes trace their roots to early 80s Alaska, where frame builders designed burly bikes with comically wide wheels for a more ample and grippy contact with snow. The bikes were an instant hit and a new spinoff of the MTB industry took off.
The superwide tires cling to large chunks of ground with much more verve than traditional mountain bike tread, and roll over most any obstacle so easily it feels like you’re floating the bike along the path. Extra weight? Sure, these brawny bikes aren’t likely to win any hill climb sprints, but recent iterations and of course carbon fiber models give riders a confidence boost when the trail tilts up.
It’s winter. We’re Minnesotans. We know the drill. Gear up, keep head and core warm, hands and feet nimble, and get out there. Climb aboard a feisty fat bike and fly triumphantly with the unfettered joy of blasting through snowdrifts and kicking up rooster tail plumes.
There is is no shortage of destinations around the Twin Cities to leave big ol’ tracks in the snow. In addition to your favorite trails, most of which allow and welcome the big bikes, regular fat bike races and events dot the winter calendar. Check one out; that fired-up adrenaline is great for staying warm when the temperature plummets. This list takes us through December. For more scoop, go to
Winter Bike Expo—Dec 3-4
Freewheel Midtown Bike Center
Frozen Frolic Fat Bike Race—Dec 10
Elm Creek Regional Park
Solstice Chase—Dec 17
Great Lakes Fat Bike Series
Big Rock Creek Retreat
St. Croix Falls, WI
Frozen Frolic Fat Bike Race—Dec 21
Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve
Introduction to Fat Biking—Dec 24
Cleary Lake Regional Park
Introduction to Fat Biking—Dec 29
New Prague Golf Course
By Steve Johnson