Nine years ago I moved to Colorado and assumed that alpine skiing, a sport that consumed quite a bit of my time growing up in New England, would take over my winter months. Gone were the hours spend sliding over ice, crossing your fingers you’d make it and be able to stop…eventually. I was looking forward to learning to ski on actual snow, inches of it. Skiing tried to take over, I tried, but then something called ‘I-70 traffic’ got in the way. I fell victim to the traffic hate, the 5 am departure dread and quickly skiing became a chore and not a favorite past time. It may sound crazy to live within 90 mins of some of the country’s best snow and slopes, but, frankly, I can’t be bothered.
As cycling has slowly taken over my existence, and the winters down on the Front Range become more mild, for better or worse, I’m able to pedal almost year-round, and this makes me happy. However, when winter does make an appearance it seems that the cycling world is quick to pop on their skinny, slippery, non-edgy skis and hit the nordic trails. Huh?! I have tried for over 9 years to fall in love with skate skiing. I’ve taken lessons, I’ve put in the time, but I just don’t love it. I consider myself a relatively fit person, thankfully, but the amount of lung capacity required to skate ski quickly puts me outside any sort of comfort/fun zone and it’s simply too much work. On the occasion that the day can be spent on perfectly flat trails, I’m in to it, but those days and moments are few and far between and often short lived. And now, thanks to the worlds best invention, I don’t have to try to like it. Hello, fat bikes, I adore you.
Similar to skate skiing, I have tried to fall in love with mountain biking. In preparation for life on the road, I happily sold my mountain bike last year and I’ve never looked back. That was the kind of Type 3 fun that I dreaded. I thought perhaps that fat biking would be similar, and I suppose it can be if you are trying to bushwhack, or whatever the equivalent is for snow, but when you hit the groomed trails in the Colorado sunshine, all is right in the world. There is no fear of fall or injury, but rather a feeling of pedaling and floating over the snow. The bikes are heavy but efficient. Disc brakes and wide knobby tires make ascents and descents FUN, like little kid fun. Jon and I rented bikes from Lake Catamount Nordic Center outside of Steamboat Springs, CO. They had a few Specialized models to choose from, both unisex and women’s specific. Jon rode the FatBoy SE and I played on the Hellga. Before we knew it, 2 hrs and 18 miles later, we were happy and exhausted. What can I say, I’m hooked. While it’s been mild in Boulder, and I rode in shorts yesterday (hello, Febuly), I’m happy to know that I can have two wheeled fun in the winter in the snow. I’m quickly looking forward to my next fat bike adventure which will take place at Snow Mountain Ranch next weekend. The goal of our year of travel is to find summer and follow it, but I’m happy to add some fat tires back to the collection when we return to Colorado.