I’ve gotta tell ya, it’s been feeling lately like fat bikes have jumped the shark. They’re selling like crazy, but there are only so many hardcore winter riders. I have to wonder if a big-tire bike hasn’t become just a status symbol for many new owners.
Why do I say this? Because this is the kind of winter for which fat bikes were made. Anchorage averages 63 inches of snow per year. Right now, we’re a shade over 90 inches, and it’s only mid-January. Snowstorms have been coming back to back, leaving almost no time for bike traffic to pack the trails into prime condition.
But when conditions are marginal, only a small handful of people are usually seen hitting the trails. And, in most cases, they’re the same devoted riders who have been riding in tough conditions for years. Others seem to be waiting until the singletrack is “groomed” by other riders.
And then there’s the cold. I admit it can be hard to feel motivated when the temps drop below zero, but only the truly addicted know the joy of a frigid, bluebird day like today. Leonard and I rode for a couple of hours in the sunshine today, and passed by Smokejumper trailhead when the temperature was about -15F.
Only two cars were in the parking lot. And it was a beautiful day.
I think owners sometimes need to be reminded that Alaska fat bikes were inspired by cold air and soft trails. They exist so we can ride on days when a lesser bike just won’t cut it. But the full benefit of such bikes is revealed only to those who are willing to work for it.
Jimmy Doogan said it well in the movie A League of Their Own:
“If it was easy, everyone would do it.”
(Photo credit: Today's shot of me was taken by my daughter, Hannah.)