Colorado consistently ranks as one of the healthiest states in America. It is no surprise, then, that Coloradans have gone bananas for a new outdoor winter activity that sounds insane to those in less active climes: fat biking.
This snow-season innovation allows exercise-zany Coloradans to keep their wheels spinning, no matter the season. Find out where to fat bike in Colorado below.
Fat bikes are becoming fixtures on groomed multi-use trails throughout Colorado, and many Nordic centers and ski resorts are now allowing them on their trails. Some areas are even hosting competitive races — Como puts on the annual 20-mile Abominable Winter Fat Bike Race; Crested Butte, always ready to adopt biking innovations, is home to the Fat Bike World Championships; Sunlight Mountain Resort in Glenwood Springs and Copper Mountain both host races and rides guided by moon and bike lights; the Cloud City Wheelers bicyling club in Leadville coordinates its Winter Mountain Bike Race Series throughout the snowy season; and the 10-hour Silverton Whiteout race debuted in 2015. (Many events are in January; check our events page for details.)
The comically wide tires bring back memories of clunky first-generation mountain bikes, when weight and agility weren’t main priorities. With fatter tires and handlebars and not-kidding-around treads, these new bikes aren’t speedy, but they can go just about anywhere, floating on the snow and giving people of all skill levels a new mode of exploration. Many ski areas offer lessons with staff instructors; the bikes’ three-point stance and low center of gravity make it an easy activity to pick up.
These are just a few of the shops that cater to those wanting to spin their wheels atop the powder:
• BootDoctors and Paragon Outdoors in Telluride
• The Hub Bicycle Shop in Colorado Springs
• Orange Peel Bicyle Service in Steamboat Springs
• Devil’s Thumb Ranch in Tabernash
• Golden Bike Shop in Golden
• Colorado Bike Service in EagleVail
• Rocky Mountain Ski & Raft in South Fork
• Kokopelli Bike & Board in Cortez
• University Bikes in Boulder
• Cycles of Life in Leadville
• Pagosa Mountain Sports, Pagosa Springs
There's no need to go it alone! These outfitters can give you as little or as much guidance as you're seeking on your first fat-bike outing:
• BootDoctors and Paragon Outdoors in Telluride offers half-day guided fat-bike tours that include rentals and a guide that will lead you to the best trail for your ability and the weather conditions.
• Absolute Bikes Adventure in Salida guides you through snowy backcountry on one- to five-hour tours, including one ride to the St. Elmo ghost town.
• Front Range Guides gives guided half- and full-day custom tours in Boulder, Denver and Fort Collins that include a “cycling ambassador,” rentals, transportation, lunch/trail snacks and a video of your tour.
• Breck Bike Guides in Breckenridge lets you join the staff for a snowy cruise from their downtown shop on a mellow loop or go big with an all-day adventure.
• Beer & Bike Tours in Fort Collins leads the way during fat-bike adventures on snow-packed trails or singletrack at Lory State Park and surrounding areas. Rent from their fleet or bring your own ride, then look forward to a local craft brew at the day's end.
Where to Fat Bike
Some of the spots that allow fat biking on their trails:
• Aspen Snowmass Nordic Trail System
• Breckenridge Gold Run Nordic Ski Center
• Devil’s Thumb Ranch in Tabernash
• Latigo Ranch in Kremmling
• Durango Nordic Center at Purgatory (formerly Durango Mountain Resort)
• Howelsen Hill Nordic Center, Emerald Mountain and Lake Catamount Touring Center in Steamboat Springs
• Sunlight Mountain Resort
• YMCA of the Rockies — Snow Mountain Ranch
Ski Bike Down the Slopes
Ski biking (sometimes called snow biking) is another way to experience the beauty of a Colorado winter and also get your adrenaline flowing. It’s simply a bike with the wheels replaced by skis. Many ski areas offer lessons with staff instructors; the bikes’ three-point stance and low center of gravity make it an easy activity to pick up.