Imagine Northeast Iowa

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Lessons in Fatbiking: Too Much Snow!
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Lessons in Fatbiking: Too Much Snow!

With the work that we had done on Sunday (Feb 1), we thought it would be fun to try our hand at seeing what trails we could ride and potentially pack down. Well, let's say it was a ride that simply wasn't meant to be.

We were unsure how it would go, however I decided to use my boundless determination to my hopeful advantage. We dressed warmly, Travis aired down our tries, and we simply hoped for the best.

We went on IPT; hope was soon crushed as we found it very difficult to ride. As soon as I went off the trail (snow had drifted over the snowshoe tracks a bit.) I would have to put a foot down. I struggled with maintaining some sort of control over the bike. I had a very difficult time with traction. Needless to say, there was a LOT of walking.

Travis came to the conclusion after we were about halfway into IPT that we should turn around and somehow make our way back and ride back down. This would be our attempt at packing a single trail.

It's amazing what fatbikes can do, but also what they can't. I'm not sure what gave Travis a leg-up from me, but he could ride a straight line and get going far easier than I could. I'm sure experience is part of it. I tried to follow his track, but more often than not I had a foot down. I also opted to walk sections that I felt would be too sketchy for me. Not interested in worrying over how well I can or can't stop and going off the side of a ledge.

Travis had words of frustration. For some reason or another I managed to not feel irritated with my inability to successfully ride. The fresh air was great and I was spending time with my partner, so I opted to make the most of it.

At one point I had come down a hill and swooped to a small uphill, only to have my tire slide and make a ledge in the snow. That stopped me and threw me off my bike. That's the first time I make a sort of "AAAH!" sound while falling. I could barely hear Travis through my winter helmet. "I knew that would happen!" he said. "I can't hear you!" was my response.

Farther into the trail was another small downhill- my tire again went off track and I fell on my butt. My bike spent more time on the ground than it did upright (so it seemed.)

It just goes to show that there are times when there is a lot of snow and you may not really be able to ride until it's packed down.  Fatbikes can't successfully roll through any/everything all the time. It's human-powered and can only go where you are capable of going. It was obvious to me that my lack of experience hindered me. Overall, there are many things to consider such as the tire width, air pressure, and gearing. Too much or too little can leave you floundering- it's all part of the adventure.

When a small area is packed down and you go off track you will stop or fall down. It's just the way it is. (Remember, you are falling in about 5 inches of snow. The worst part is having a cold rear.

If you get out there and find that your ride just isn't going how you wanted, don't get upset. It happens. I've had my share of going out on days that just weren't great- but you shake off the frustration, do the best you can, and have fun!


  1. Imagine Northeast Iowa Support
    Imagine Northeast Iowa Support
    Making the best of it once again! Thanks for contributing, Josie!

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