Typically, the first snowfall officially marks the moment we stash the bike away and wait out winter.
However, in recent years a new biking trend has gained traction: the ostensibly, silly-looking fat tire bike. These fat bikes feature all the typical trappings of a normal bicycle, save for the oversized tires that allow for stable riding in even the harshest of winters. While they look unwieldy and the sheer thought of trying to pedal through snow might seem exhausting, fat bikes actually provide a very forgiving ride. One city leading the charge? Thunder Bay, Ontario.
What conditions are best for fat biking?
While a fat bike may seem the perfect tool to open up terrain otherwise buried by deep snow, the bikes work at their best on packed snow. If the snow is too soft or too deep, a fat bike just won't work. It becomes the hindrance one may imagine a bicycle in the snow would be.
Although new fat bikers in Thunder Bay won't be paving a trail through fresh powder, the city has opened trails in Centennial Park and Shuniah Mines. But in reality, the harder-packed ski trails of Sleeping Giant Provincial Park work just as well.
Best Thunder Bay Fat Biking Trails
The trails at Centennial Park are best for those who are newer to fat biking. Never tried it before? Rest assured, the sport requires very little technical knowledge. While Centennial Park has a number of short, easy trails that allow for visitors to get their snow legs, there are also some intermediate challenges to be found.
The Upper 2K Trail features small climbs with flowy descents and tight corners. Alternatively, the Lower 2K Trail offers simple up and downs, but lacks the tight turns for those who are not quite ready to wipe out.
For experienced shredders, Shuniah's Best of the Mines 10-km loop is a must. While the ride starts off easy enough along the river, the difficulty amps up as soon as the climb up iconic Hydro Hill commences. From there it becomes fast and flowy, testing riders with technical downhill sections.
While the trails of Centennial Park and Shuniah Mines are maintained for fat bikers and skiers, riders aren't limited to these areas. Any place with cross-country ski trails or really well tracked trails should have a decent snow pack to shred. For this reason, we recommend checking out Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. The Mary Louise Lake Trail offers a scenic lake view, while the Burma and Pickerel Loop provide more of a challenge.
Fat Tire Biking Tips
- Dress in layers and bring a pack to store unneeded garments in.
- Dress like you're going skiing: wear a helmet, goggles, mitts and well-insulated footwear
- Fat tire bikes don't have to hibernate all summer. Going on a road trip to higher altitudes? Strap it to the car and go.
- Fat tires corner better than traditional bikes. If it's in your personality to do so, have some fun messing around: locking up, cornering and siding on packed snow.
- Show good ettiquette; share the trail with other winter users.
- As with winter hiking, best not to go it alone.
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