Imagine Northeast Iowa

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My First Winter Fatbike Ride
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My First Winter Fatbike Ride

New Years Day came, and Travis asked me the night before if I would be interested in going on my first fatbike ride. The destination would be the pine trails of Van Peenen in Decorah, an off-road trail I’m pretty comfortable with and enjoy riding.

The comical part of getting ready for this ride was dressing for the cold temperatures. It had been a long while since Travis had ridden in such cold temps, and I generally avoid riding anywhere other than to work. We spent probably a good fifteen minutes figuring out how many layers we should wear and what not. Once I was all bundled and ready to go, Travis asked,

Do you have a pair of wind-breaking tights?”


You should put those on instead of your Smartwool tights.”

OOoooh man!

I’m sorry, Honey!”

So I de-layered myself from the waist down, pulling off my jeans, tights, and two pairs of socks, and put on my wind-breaking tights. Once I re-layered myself, I finally announced I was ready to head off on our adventure. We stopped at the bike shop to pick up our fatbikes. We would ride there to Van Peenen. As we got out of the truck, I took off my winter coat and opted to just wear my wind-breaking cycling jacket. I worried that I wouldn’t end up being warm enough, but I also knew that being too warm wasn’t the best either. I was equipped with a Smartwool base layer, a t-shirt, and a Smartwool mid-layer. I hoped that would be enough layers to keep my core toasty.

Once gloves were on, we headed out and up to the pines. I didn’t think to shift right away and definitely made myself work hard to climb up the hills. Once we got to the pines, I regained my breath and had a smile on my face. I was ready to ride!

The ride though the pines was nice. For a novice off-road rider, I found that riding through Van Peenen was much easier with the trail being snow-packed. Roots were blended in and covered with a layer of snow, making most of any route through the pines smooth sailing. I felt my confidence grow as I realized I didn’t have to really think about anything other than just riding around. I took turns, small climbs, and down hills with ease. I was happy as a clam. However, my fingers were frozen.

The one thing that distracted me was the burning sensation of super cold fingers. I was continuously gripping the bike’s grips repeatedly, trying to get blood to circulate faster. There was one spot where my front tire slipped a little and I had to step off the bike. Not a huge deal, I walked up the small incline and readied myself to keep going. Travis asked “Do you want to try that spot again?” We would often session areas that caused me any amount of difficulty. I knew that with this situation that it was merely a circumstance of either snow, turning too sharp, or perhaps a rogue root. I told Travis “Nope, I’m good! My hands are too cold right now, I just wanna keep going!”

We continued our way through the pines and I slipped two other times, but those were minor and I figured I understood why. Travis asked if I'd had enough fun and would be ready to go home after we turned around. I said sure, even though my fingers had finally warmed. I am not a fan of chilly weather. I was overall very pleased with my ride. I felt very accomplished with what I had done that afternoon and was pleased with my first winter fatbike experience. I am eagerly waiting for the weather to warm up some so I can go out again!

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