Fat Biking trails and fitness

We all know that fat biking is giddy, giggly fun, and gets us on our beloved 2-wheeled friends all year round. But one of the hidden benefits of riding fatties is the fitness gains you’ll make while having all this fun.  Fat bike this winter and you’ll roll into spring with more strength and skills!


2 guys fatbiking


Photo: Shutterstock


Staying fit in the winter is hard, but fat bikes make it fun and easy to get outside, negating the dreaded trainer sessions and getting you fitter than you may be aware of: you can burn a ton of calories, the balance and core strength that fat biking requires will tone up all those muscles that tend to get soft in the winter, and you’ll gain new bike handling skills, all while goofing off in the snow like a kid again!


fatbiking singletrack

 Photo: Shutterstock

Burn baby, burn!

A 150-lb person can burn up to 1,000 calories an hour while fat biking in soft conditions. You’re not only working harder to push a heavy bike through snow on 5 psi tires, but you’re pedaling more than you would on a regular bike: the resistance of fat biking doesn’t allow much coasting, so you’re keeping all those muscles revved up every moment of your ride.


You don’t even have to consciously ride hard (ie ‘intervals’) – the very nature of fat biking will bring your heart rate up without you’re even thinking about it! Being out in the cold also revs up your metabolism in general, so you’ll continue burning calories long after you’ve gotten to the brewery for your post-ride beers!


fat biking low angle

 Photo: Shutterstock

Arnold Muscles:

Well, maybe not Arnold exactly, but the strength needed to pedal through snow, the balance with your core muscles needed to keep the bike upright on the trails, the maneuvering needed of the front wheel with your arms and chest, and the flexing of your back and butt to push up the climbs will strengthen and tone all of those muscles in a way that no other cycling discipline can.


Your cadence will be slower as well, so each ride becomes a muscle endurance ride. You literally need to produce more wattage to push that bike forward – and you won’t even notice since you’ll be laughing and smiling all the while!


If you're interested in cross training, fat biking is a great cool down for Nordic skiing. Conveniently, many Nordic ski areas rent fat bikes and have excellent groomed (and sometimes hilly!) trails at your disposal.


Photo: Shutterstock 

Bike Handling:

As conditions change throughout a ride, or even ride-to-ride, the balance and maneuverability required to stay upright and on the trail will keep you on your toes. And you will crash. A lot. But you’re falling into a puff of snow, so it’s fun and reminiscent of being a kid again! I’ve found it difficult to pull myself out of snowbanks after crashing on my fattie mainly due to my laughing so hard…


You’ll realize that cornering on snow and climbing steep uphills take more ‘hovering’ and ‘leaning’ than on a mountain bike in dry conditions. These skills will be very obvious to you on your first few fat bike rides - don’t get frustrated! It’s just a little different than mtb-ing, and will transfer over to greatly-improved cornering and climbing come springtime on your regular bike.


fat bike finnesse

 Photo: Shutterstock

More training time:

The first year I got my fat bike, we were doing 2-3 hour rides a few times a week, and that is way more than I would have put in on my trainer, and definitely more enjoyable! I rode more that winter, but was less ‘burned out’ come spring: the newness of fat biking made it an exciting and refreshing sport to do all winter (versus climbing on the old trainer or taking never-ending spin classes).


Maybe not surprising, research shows you’re also less likely to succumb to the winter blues or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) when you regularly exercise outdoors.


Every ride is new and exciting, regardless of whether you’re riding your good ‘ol summertime trails, or something different. I wake up on a fat bike day wondering: what will the conditions be like? How far will we be able to ride? How many other fat bikers will we see out there (it’s such a tight-knit community!)? How much spiked hot chocolate should I put in my thermos?


have you hugged your fat bike


Chill Out:

Then again, it’s not always about getting stronger/faster/fitter! Sometimes it’s nice to forget about heading out on your bike at top speed to get a Strava PR. Instead, just go for a spin, smell the flowers, take in the view, drink a beer, and have fun. Fat bikes are helping lots of riders remember how to chill out and enjoy the moment.


Come spring, once you shed your 5-layers of clothing, your 4” low pressure tires, your high-resistance snow tires, and hop back on that light summertime bike of yours, you will feel like you’re FLYING up the climbs and SWOOSHING down the descents!


Join us at Sacred Rides Boulder for a day of guided mountain bike riding in beautiful Boulder, Colorado! We take care of all the logistics (customized ride based on your skill and fitness level, bike rentals, trail snacks, gourmet lunch, microbrews post-ride) so you just show up and enjoy the day!

Facebook comments