Tired of Training Indoors? Go Fat-Tire Biking Instead.


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Supplement indoor training with quality time outdoors this winter.

Once a fringe sport pioneered by dedicated cyclists desperate to keep pedaling outdoors year round, fat-tire biking has shifted from edge to mainstream, as witnessed by the profusion of beefy-tired rigs spotted, not just on cross-country ski trails, but also on dirt, sand, and singletrack.

And while fat-tire bikes are now an all-season staple pretty much everywhere you see mountain bikers—and many places you never thought you’d see someone riding—winter really brings out the purest element of this genre of biking, especially if you trick out your rig with some ice-biting, tungsten-tipped tires. Suddenly you don’t need a resort, or even a hill, to play on snow in the winter. You just need a bike and a snow-covered trail, road, or frozen lake.

So if you’re like us and watching TV while spinning on the trainer has long since become a monotonous chore, plan a trip to one of these bike-friendly locales for some much-needed trail time.

Jackson, Wyoming

Best Season: Late November-early April

This winter mecca, nestled at the base of the Tetons, hosted the 2015 Global Fat Bike Summit for a reason: Tons of riding is scattered throughout the region, along with solid in-town rentals, guides, and maps. Trails stretch throughout nearby Bridger-Teton National Forest, but other trails like the Game Creek network and the relatively flat Teton Canyon route, both of which are close to town proper and boast stellar views of the Tetons, offer easy access for a half-day tour.

Also noteworthy, the nearby Grand Targhee Resort was one of the first ski areas to groom trails just for fat-tire bikers, elevating their nine-mile nordic trail system with two miles of bike-only routes. Hook up with the guys at Teton Mountain Biking Tours for rentals, guides, advice, and full- and half-day tours throughout the region.

Duluth, Minnesota

Best Season: December–March

Ask a local and they’ll tell ya you don’t know cold until you know Minnesota cold. But that’s never stopped ‘em from playing outdoors, nor should it stop you. While winter pretty much covers the entire state with fat tire-friendly terrain, the epicenter is arguably Duluth. It’s no wonder Duluth is home to the winter warriors at 45NRTH, the company behind GroomedSingletrack.com, an impressive website that details where riders can find groomed singletrack across the country and other routes specific to fat-tire biking.

Nearby Spirit Mountain Ski Resort offers lift-served downhill terrain throughout the season, with bike rentals available at nearby Continental Ski and Bike. But if the high winds close the lifts, you can hit a wide swath of trails, including the machine-built, beginner-friendly trails at Lester Park. Or let the guides at Day Trippers Duluth lead you to the perfect trail system.

Breckenridge, Colorado

Best Season: November–April

If the weather gods smile upon the Centennial State, you can go fat-tire biking pretty much anywhere in the Colorado high country during winter. But the area around Breckenridge stands tall among Colorado’s giant-sized ski resorts. Riders can rent fat-tire bikes from Avalanche Sports or Alpine Sports and hit the groomed, bike-dedicated trails at Gold Run Nordic Center. Breck Bike Guides also rent bikes, but do yourself a favor and sign up for a guided tour to truly sample the area’s expansive terrain. Each outing is limited to groups of five and customized to the riders’ skill level.

Marquette, Michigan

Best Season: December–March

Despite what a few over-enthusiastic locals might argue, Michigan isn’t known for downhill skiing, but it’s fast-becoming fat-tire bike grand central. As Outside Magazine pointed out in a recent article, the sleepy town of Marquette has only 20,000 residents, but it boasts four bike shops (and some great breweries as well). From the town, you can access more than 70 miles of groomed singletrack, with more year-round trails being built every season.

East Burke, Vermont

Best Season: December–March


soon as fat-tire bikers started showing up on Nordic trails, the cross-country skiers started… tolerating them. But bike-only routes at established Nordic centers may become the new norm if East Burke’s Kingdom Trails Nordic Adventure Center becomes a leading example. They offer 20+ dedicated trails and low-cost day passes, with routes marked by skill level. The center also hosts the annual WinterBike Festival each March, which includes access to free demo rigs, live music, races for all skill sets, and lots and lots of riding.

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