For those looking for a new way to embrace a prairie winter, this rising winter sport could be just the thing!
What is fat biking?
The name comes from the size of the tires – which are ultra-wide, almost three times that of a standard mountain bike tire and designed to handle snow-covered ground. They are soft and balloon-like, which helps riders float across snow-covered trails rather than sink into it.
While fat biking is growing in popularity in Southern Alberta, this style of bike was adopted by Alaskan riders who altered models used for powering over sand. It took a few years until bike manufactures began to mass-produce the models and the trend has been growing ever since, with more than 10,000 people partaking. Although more and more ski resorts have looked for ways to accommodate fat bikes, there’s nothing quite like hitting the open trails during the wintertime in Southern Alberta. Whether riders are new to the winter sport or have been enjoying the thrill of biking in plunging temperatures for years, here are three spots worthy of checking out:
Castle Provincial Park
Spanning more than 105,000 hectares, the landscape of Castle Provincial Park is utterly stunning. From mountains to rolling hills, forests and meadows, it is the perfect location for fat biking – especially since it’s made up of a network of cross-country, snowshoe, and fat bike trails. While riding through miles of snow-covered terrain is enough to get anyone’s internal furnace going, Castle Provincial Park is also home to a warming hut, which provides a cozy pit stop, thanks to a toasty-wood burning stove.
Moraine Lake Road
Located in Banff National Park, Moraine Lake is just 14 kilometres away from the infamous Lake Louise. It’s equally as stunning, as the glacier-fed water is a brilliant blue-green colour that reflects light off of all the surrounding mountains. There are several surrounding trails to explore but for those new to fat biking, Moraine Lake Road is closed to traffic during the winter months, which creates a playful slope perfect for testing out fat biking in Southern Alberta. The end of the road reveals a spectacular view of Moraine lake and is also a great time to turn around or continue along an un-groomed trail.
Canmore Nordic Centre
The trails at Canmore Nordic Centre are maintained all throughout the winter so they are suitable for anyone looking to partake in fat biking in Southern Alberta – whether they are a beginner or an established biker. For those interested in a more extreme ride, the summer single-track mountain bikes trails can be ridden with fat bikes in the winter; however, because of the steepness and difficulty of these trails, the snow must be packed before fat bikers can explore safely.