I used to think winter cyclists were crazy. After all, a cool spring breeze can sometimes dissuade me from hopping on my road bike.
But after taking a spin on a fat bike for the first time two winters ago, I realized it’s not so much about your guts as it is about your gear. That includes your bike, and the arrival of the fat tire bike has changed the game for winter riders in Door County.
A fat bike has tires that are at least 3.7 inches wide and are inflated to just 10 psi or so. That gives it incredible traction and a smooth ride, allowing you to easily ride through a field, over rocks, or in packed snow.
As for handling the cold, it’s all about layers covering extremities. Your body warms up easily even on the coldest days, but you’ll want to wear a balaclava, toe covers, and a good pair of gloves. With that covered, a winter ride really isn’t bad at all.
Where to Ride This Winter
Door County does not have an extensive winter trail system, but you can always ride on roads, which makes Peninsula State Park a great spot.
You can rent a fat bike at Nor Door Sport and Cyclery near the park entrance for about $10 an hour. It’s a great way to try it out. You can stick to the park roads and climb up Skyline Road to Sven’s Bluff. It will test your lungs, but the rare glimpse of the view in winter is more than worth your effort.
You can also ride on any roads that are groomed for snowmobiling within the state parks, but not on off-road snowmobile trails in or outside the parks. That includes Sunset Trail when it’s groomed for snowmobiling.
For a better trail experience head to Newport State Park, where there’s a five-mile fat bike trail that even has groomed sections when the snow falls.
3 Tips for Winter Fat Biking
- Stay seated while climbing. Standing up and taking your weight off the rear tire will cause you to lose traction, especially in wet snow or sand.
- Don’t freak out if it’s cold at the start. As you work up a sweat you’ll be more than warm enough, just make sure you have good gloves, good face coverage, and toe covers or warmers.
- Worried about your water bottle freezing? Add a shot of alcohol to keep it liquid. It might help keep you warm, too.