Riding a fat tire bike is a liberating experience, rekindling that sense of the freedom that biking gave you as a child.
Fat bikes, aka fatties, or fat tire bikes behave just like mountain bikes except you can ride them over the snow. With more rubber to meet the road, they offer a fun bouncy feeling while at the same time providing much greater stability.
The fun doesn’t have to end when the snow falls.
Try riding a fatty on some of Door County’s trails and you’ll be hooked. There are trails for all skill levels from beginner to expert at Potawatomi Park. The Ahnapee State Trail was once the railroad pathway to Door County so it provides some of the best bicycle riding options, connecting Sturgeon Bay to Algoma, Kewaunee, Luxemburg, and Casco.
Fat bike tires alone are great for improving traction in poor conditions and with studded tires the fatties can manage even the iciest terrain. With a set of studded tires, you can ride the frozen waters of Green Bay, Kangaroo Lake, Europe Lake, and more. In the peak of a typical Door County winter, the Bay can freeze to more than 12″ thick, so you need not worry about breaking through the ice.
How to Prepare for winter bike riding:
- Dress appropriately. Check temps as well as the wind speed whether you plan to ride sheltered wooded trails or out on the open ice. Consider wind guards for hands and feet or chemical heat packs. If I’m dressed properly, my body heat is enough to keep me warm. Wind block mittens are much better than gloves. Gaiters are a requirement if you are riding in deep powder, or for long periods of time with wind or blowing snow. Wear some well-insulated (preferably waterproof) shoes with a pair of thick, wool socks. There are several excellent shoes and boots designed for snow riding. An old road biker secret is to wrap your socked feet in aluminum foil before donning your shoes or boots. Chemical toe warmers are essential, even if you keep them unopened in your pack “just in case.” Some riders put their feet in silver space blankets for reflective heat, and 45NRTH just released similar technology embedded in their Jaztronaut shoe inserts (which are standard in their much-revered Wolvhammer boots).
- Proper tire inflation is a must. Fill your tires to about 8-10 psi. Tires with less inflation in the winter means there’s more rubber on the surface, offering better traction. If you are renting your bike from Nor Dor Sport & Cyclery, tell Lief or Nick where you plan to ride so they can inflate your tires, accordingly.
- Consider studding your tires for icy patches on trails or riding on the frozen lake. Make sure you check open water freeze conditions. If you don’t see ice fishermen on the Bay, stay off of the frozen water.
- Wear proper protective gear like a helmet and glasses or goggles.
- Ride with a friend. Travel with a lighter or fire-starter, space blanket, map, compass, pocket knife, and a light.
- Stay hydrated, and consider putting a shot of your favorite alcohol in your water bottle to prevent your water from freezing or carry it inside your jacket.
Where to rent a fattie…
If you don’t own a fat tire bike and would like to rent one during your vacation in Door, contact Nick at the Fish Creek branch of Nor Dor Sport & Cyclery or Lief at the Sturgeon Bay store. You can also fill out an online rental form to reserve your rental bike well-in-advance.