A Winter Dilemma

01.31.2013 | 12:21 pm

NewImageA Note from Fatty: As you may know — because I have kind of centered my life around it for the past sixteen years or so — I kinda like the Leadville Trail 100 MTB race. A lot of people do. And so a lot of people think about signing up, hoping they’ll get past the registration lottery so they can race it. 

Well, this is just a friendly little reminder for those of you who have been thinking about signing up this year, but haven’t yet: today is the last day you can do so. Register by midnight MT today if you want a shot at getting in. Good luck!

Winter is such a special, wonderful time for cyclists like me. It’s snowing outside. In fact, there’s a lot of snow outside — check out this photo I just took of my backyard:


There’s a fire crackling in the fireplace. There’s lots of food in the fridge, and I’m wearing pajamas with an elastic waistband, making it much more comfortable to eat a second desert.

Furthermore, while it’s cozy inside, there’s ice on the road. The frost on the windows serves as a warning of what would happen to me, should I venture outside. Wisely, I heed the warning, and remain indoors, stocking-footed, often with a pair of woolly slippers on. Just in case.

In the garage, the Stan’s goop in my bikes’ tires pools, then congeals,. My biking shoes grow dusty. It has been so long since I have put a helmet on that I dont’t even remember what color it is. Its location is but a vague and distant memory. 

Idly, I hope that by not wearing my helmet for so long it has ceased to stink quite so badly. Then I wonder if a chamois starts to get brittle if you don’t use it for months on end. This train of thought doesn’t go far, as my thoughts return to the task at hand: eating lots of bean dip.

I try to remember whether I have loaned my floor pump to a friend, or simply left it outside one fateful evening before the first big snowfall, now to remain undiscovered until the Spring thaw. 

I note to myself, wistfully, that many of my riding friends (Dug, Rick Sunderlage [not his real name], Mark, Adam) have a Winter sport they go on: backcountry skiing. Naturally, they all would very much like me to join them skiing, by which I mean: none of them have ever asked me to join them skiing.

Which is just as well, because I would have to decline, making up some feeble excuse like, “No, I don’t know how to ski, and I am afraid I will kill myself as I try to learn.”

I would then add, “Besides, most of your videos make it look like you spend 95% of the time doing a forced march up a mountain, which doesn’t look nearly as fun as eating this here bean dip with a spoon.” 

And then I would stuff a spoonful of bean dip into my mouth, just to underscore my point.


I have a problem, though. A problem that has gotten a toehold in my mind, tempting me to step out of doors before the month of May.


Specifically, my friend Ricky (you can see that we’re friends because Facebook explicitly says so) got a fatbike for Christmas, and now he has begun to pester me, continually, with tales of his exploits. 

And with photographs, like this one:


But you know, I could look at this and just dismiss it. I mean, sure, a friend of mine, out there on a bike, at the summit of the Alpine Loop (my favorite place in the world), on a beautiful day, having a blast.

I could dismiss it just like that.

The thing is, though, it’s not like Ricky’s the only out there riding a fatbike right now. It’s not like he’s some kind of wild-eyed, tongue-chewing outlier. These things have gotten popular around here this year. Ricky sent me this picture from one of his recent group rides, featuring an envy-inducing bunch of Salsas and Surlys :


During this ride, I believe I was sitting at home, watching — among other things — a Bad Lip Reading of Beyonce on YouTube. In my heart of hearts, I find myself questioning whether I had as much fun as the guys on bikes were having.

And yet, I am  concerned over whether a person with the nickname “Fatty” should own a fatbike, due to the confusion the similar names would no doubt inspire.

Hence, I find myself faced with a dilemma. Get a fatbike and join the throngs of riders who are seemingly enjoying winter?

Or open another bag of chips?

I think you’ll agree this is a conundrum for the ages.

PS: Since beginning this post, I have finished my bean dip and have moved on to a rotating dip triumvirate of salsa, sour cream, and guacamole. Just FYI.


  1. Comment by Chad | 01.31.2013 | 12:40 pm

    FAT BIKE! I want one so very badly… You should give one away the next time you do a contest!

  2. Comment by Steve | 01.31.2013 | 12:50 pm

    How does anyone who lives in UTAH, NOT have one of these?

  3. Comment by centurion | 01.31.2013 | 12:51 pm

    I’m sure that very close to you are groomed xc ski trails. You should give it a try, it’s easy, if you are on an ‘easy’ trail it’s mostly flat, maybe a small hill to go up and down. There is very little chance of you falling and getting hurt. It uses many of the same muscles as cycling. And if the Hammer goes a long, it’s something else she can kick your ass at, oh sorry, something else you can enjoy together. Try it, you’ll get hooked on it just like cycling. Or you can get a fat bike.

  4. Comment by UpNorth | 01.31.2013 | 12:58 pm

    Everyone in my neck of the woods has jumped on the fatbike craze too. Except me – I’m sticking to popcorn & gummy candy.

  5. Comment by Jill Homer (@AlaskaJill) | 01.31.2013 | 1:01 pm

    A couple of winters back I had the opportunity to go mountain biking (not fat biking, “skinny biking” on my dad’s ancient Trek rigid MTB) on the Corner Canyon trails in Draper in the winter. They were surprisingly well packed a ways up the canyon — Jacob’s Ladder, Ghost Falls, etc. Perfect winter singletrack. At the time a fat bike wouldn’t have even been needed, although studded tires would have been nice as it was a bit icy. Still … this experience makes me suspect you have a snow bike wonderland throughout your backyard. You already own like 44 bikes. What’s one more? :)

  6. Comment by Dave T | 01.31.2013 | 1:07 pm

    When I was younger my brother and I want to go riding in the winter so we built a bike for the snow. We mounted a ski to the forks and added several small bolts through the rear tire for traction. It was very difficult to ride but it kind of worked. The fat tire bike looks like your best bet if you don’t relish the idea of xc skiing. All though bean dip sounds pretty good right about now.

  7. Comment by bikemike | 01.31.2013 | 1:10 pm

    good luck.

  8. Comment by Irish | 01.31.2013 | 1:15 pm

    All…live in Michigan and have ridden one for the last 2 years (2012 Mukluk 2)…it’s just awesome…extended the cycling season for me and give me the confidence (stability) to go out and ride in the snow…this is part of my recovery…being in the woods at night with headlights watching the snow come down through the trees is priceless…Pure Michigan…get one you won’t regret it… :-)

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  9. Comment by Clydesteve | 01.31.2013 | 1:27 pm

    Fatty – Having lost over 10 lbs. since January 1, your imaginative and funny story is not complely believable.

    I believe you do not have a fat bike, and wonder if you should. I believe you don’t back country ski, and assume that you might be seriously injured trying. I even believe that you are not doing much conventional MTB-ing or road biking in the snow.

    I do not believe you are just eating bean dip.

    I do believe you are looking for a good excuse to fat bike instead of trainer / rollers.

    Do it.

  10. Comment by Clydesteve | 01.31.2013 | 1:30 pm

    BTW, I like your winter storage scheme for BBQs and picnic tables. It is a lot like mine. This is reassuring.

  11. Comment by roan | 01.31.2013 | 1:30 pm

    That last photo, quite a line-up of studly bikes. There’s a utube video of regular mtn bike vs ‘fat tired’ mtn bike (no pun..ha, ha intended, maybe guacamole filled tubes) vs fatback type snow bikes. Quite impressive at moving through snow where the regular mtn was…a pain.

  12. Pingback by A Winter Dilemma | Bicycle News Gator | 01.31.2013 | 1:32 pm

    [...] the original: A Winter Dilemma This entry was posted in FatCyclist.com and tagged bike, dip, eating, friend, heart, join, lot, [...]

  13. Comment by Kristy | 01.31.2013 | 1:57 pm

    Oh my! We have a couple fat bikes – it is immediate transport back to the day of your first bmx bike when you thought you could ride super super fast, far, and high pulling off the most amazing tricks ever. And that feeling alone is worth owning a fat bike!

  14. Comment by T.J. Olaussen | 01.31.2013 | 1:58 pm

    Put the salsa and sour cream down, and step away from the table. Bad fatty! Very bad!

  15. Comment by randy | 01.31.2013 | 1:58 pm

    If you refuse to ski, then by all means get the fat bike. And while any one ski package is less costlier than a fat bike, in todo (downhill, skate, classic, backcountry touring, etc) they are probably more expensive than one bike. Get the bike.

  16. Comment by Ed | 01.31.2013 | 1:59 pm

    Go for it!! I wish it snowed in Texas so I could justify one.

    I just hope you can find room in your garage.


  17. Comment by TomInCO | 01.31.2013 | 2:16 pm

    Another option: Ski biking. http://www.lenzsport.com/skibike_main.php
    Combine the high cost of a custom bike with the high cost of a lift ticket…but it’s mighty fun. You could also convert one of you dozens of mtb’s to a ski bike relatively cheaply.

  18. Comment by Santi M. | 01.31.2013 | 2:17 pm

    I must admit I get a little jealous of the folks commuting in fat bikes when I’m stuck in traffic in a bad snow storm.

  19. Comment by Isaac | 01.31.2013 | 2:29 pm

    You should have a fatbike. They are much fun. For the first time in my memory, I’ve actually been enjoying winter this year — and hoping for more snow.

  20. Comment by ClydeinKS | 01.31.2013 | 2:29 pm

    There go the Assos bibs! Now that that’s settled the fatbike is a must do, i’m envious of your location and if were there I’d need to have a fat bike to enjoy the scenery year-round! Get one now.

    Waiting to see AKChick’s response here, I KNOW she has much more to add to the reason why you MUST have one of these in your stable…

  21. Comment by Vintage Bicycles | 01.31.2013 | 2:36 pm

    We are off to france in a few weeks time and this has given us an idea for a project to make a snow bike! Awesome blog guys!

  22. Comment by VT_Rob | 01.31.2013 | 2:39 pm

    I was wearing a Fatty jersey at an event this summer and had a guy ask me if my jersey meant that I had a fat bike. I don’t, and gave him a brief explanation of Team Fatty. Said differently, if “Fatty” doesn’t have a fat bike, what’s the point?

  23. Comment by Hautacam | 01.31.2013 | 2:56 pm

    You don’t need a fatbike.

    You need snowshoes. Just strap them on and go. Like running. Who needs all that other gear? And your hands and feet will stay warm(er).

    For the price of one fatbike you can outfit your whole family.

    45 to 90 minutes uphill on snowshoes in loose snow is a mind-blowing workout that will leave you sore in places you didn’t know you had. Especially if you’re the donkey carrying a pack with snacks and water for everyone.

  24. Comment by The Banter | 01.31.2013 | 3:07 pm

    Don’t do it. No amount of fat rubber tires will keep you warm. Salsa and bean dip are guaranteed to help with the internal thermostat.

  25. Comment by TK | 01.31.2013 | 3:08 pm

    Get snowshoes instead. They provide a good workout and allow you access to awesome, unpopulated scenery. And there is virtually no chance of injuring or killing yourself while doing it. I’d highly recommend Tubbs Flex Alp or MSR Evo Ascent snowshoes if you want to climb steep terrain.

  26. Comment by roadrash | 01.31.2013 | 3:16 pm

    Please get the fatbike for those of us who can’t. I live in Dallas where it snows enough to warrant a fatbike once in a generation.

    I did notice my neighborhood bike shop carries two really cool looking Surlys. I wonder why?

  27. Comment by Marsupial MattC | 01.31.2013 | 3:17 pm

    First things first: you’re STILL in your stretchy-waist PJ’s @ 12:21PM on a work-day? Man oh man, I want YOUR job!

    As to the fatbike…what have you got to lose? If you won’t go XC skiing that is…which is an EXCELLENT cross-training sport (works the whole body, that’s for sure!)

    You’re not fooling ANYBODY Fatty…knowing there’s a type of bike you DON’T have is KILLING you…we ALL know you’re gonna get one (and by one I mean two…one for Hammer). Just get it over with for crying out loud. And in another year or 2 when they come out with aerodynamic TT-fatbikes, you’ll get 2 of those too.

    (@ Hatuacam, I always wanted to try snowshoeing, but now I live in CA where I ride all year…but if I’m ever in a winter-wonderland again for any amount of time, you can bet your bippys that I’ll be ’shoeing’ in the snow).

  28. Comment by Obstinate Roadie | 01.31.2013 | 3:31 pm

    I suggest taking up skate skiing. Or euchre.

  29. Comment by Clancy | 01.31.2013 | 3:44 pm

    YES – you NEED a Fatty Bike (see what I did)! As long as it fits in the equation:

    “..the correct number is n+1, where n is the number of bikes currently owned. This equation may also be re-written as s-1, where s is the number of bikes owned that would result in separation from your partner.”

    Although I suspect in your case you can’t buy just 1. The Hammer is going to need one too..

  30. Comment by Alex H. | 01.31.2013 | 3:56 pm

    Buying a fat bike is the first thing on my to-buy list if I ever move to a cold climate. They just look like another way to suffer. And they are so ridiculous I can’t help but laugh.


  31. Comment by Tom from NorCal | 01.31.2013 | 5:04 pm

    Dear Fatty,
    I propose a win-win for the both of us. You buy yourself a fat bike and let me “borrow” it for an “all expenses paid (by Fatty, of couse)” trip out to ride it with your “friend” Ricky. I will write a super-duper exciting post for your award winning blog about the adventure.
    You win because you get to continue eating all sorts of dips and you will then own your very own fat bike. All the while not having to subject yourself to actually riding in the snow and cold.
    Soon to be your “friend” Tom

    ps…I would be totally willing to “store” said fat bike at my place for safe keeping (rent free for you of course) and write about how well it handles conditions sans snow.

  32. Comment by Mtber | 01.31.2013 | 5:21 pm

    Forget it, they are all sold out!

  33. Comment by Ricky | 01.31.2013 | 5:22 pm

    You, Fatty, are not complete without a fat bike. Get one and come ride with me. And bring your donuts and chips – they go great with the eggs and bacon.

    Dug n Sunderlage are laggards. They’ll trade in their AT gear for fatties soon.

  34. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 01.31.2013 | 5:24 pm

    @MarsupialMatt Get the Fat Bike and do what any self respecting Californian would do with one in the winter. Go ride on the Beach! Board Shorts required.

    Fatty! You are mean to all of us out here with the weight challenge. Telling stories of Bean Dip, Sour Cream, Salsa, and chips. And on a day, week, month, with limited riding time you continue to drop pounds. I would coin the line, life’s not fair but I hear it’s been done.

  35. Comment by Lori | 01.31.2013 | 6:05 pm

    Well I hate riding my trainer, and try to cross country ski when I can to cross train in the winter. This is central Ohio, XC is the only true ski option available and then you need a couple of inches of the dreaded white stuff to be able to pull it off. Fat tired bikes in the snow actually look, like fun. Go for it.

  36. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 01.31.2013 | 6:23 pm

    Fatty, just a question on the side(with apologies to Leroy)….where’s the dog?
    I see a largish mound to the side of the doghouse and am a little concerned. Or, you could tell me the dog is curled on the twin(s) bed all nice and warm and the doghouse is yours…for emergencies.

  37. Comment by Al Pastor | 01.31.2013 | 7:10 pm

    10 lbs in a month!

  38. Comment by Toddeo | 01.31.2013 | 8:13 pm

    Fat bikes are like ice fishing rods, it’s time to do something else when the lake freezes over.
    There is a sport called skiing that works well in the snow

  39. Comment by joliver3 | 01.31.2013 | 10:11 pm

    Yep, Fatty needs a fat bike. Heck, they were practically named after you.

    By the way, your YouTube link reminds me that I thought you were great as Caesar Flickerman in The Hunger Games.

  40. Comment by Tom Gruver | 01.31.2013 | 10:26 pm

    always a good post. Funny thing about Leadville – they changed their lottery this year to the extent that there is no “team” signup. So, if you get in and your buddy/ies do not… nothing you can do. Now… what would be nice if they gave the person the option to opt out (over some grace period; like 48 hours), so if your friends/teammates didn’t get in, you can decide not to go by yourself. But alas… if you are selected in the lottery, you are instantly billed the registration fee, and it’s non refundable.

    We raced it (3 of use) last year as a team for the first time (for all of us)… and loved every minute of it. But i’m afraid, that as a long time Ironman vet, that with the purchase by LifeTime Fitness, they are starting to head the way of WTC in how the run and organize races.

  41. Comment by Jolene | 01.31.2013 | 11:44 pm

    Just for fun you could race the Frozen Hog on Saturday. Also, there are groomed cross country ski trails in AF Canyon that are great.

  42. Comment by Burgesse | 02.1.2013 | 7:51 am

    OK Fatty, talk about fatbikes and you have to consider this: The Arrowhead 135 ultra race starts right here in little International Falls, MN. Here is one rider’s story:http://itsthefunthatmatters.blogspot.com/2013/01/arrowhead-2013.html
    And here is the full Monty:http://www.arrowheadultra.com/index.php

    Sign up now! It fills fast….It would be great to meet you here in person, and I will feed you as much as I can afford.

  43. Comment by Daddy style | 02.1.2013 | 8:51 am

    I hear they work well in sand as well, Dubia [sp] bound anytime soon.

    There a hit in some parts of Canada, Just read an article in Canadian cyclist about a club in Winnipeg Manitoba, -20 and beyond, Brrrr,

  44. Pingback by Weekly Dose of Fat – 2/1/13 | FAT-BIKE.COM | 02.1.2013 | 9:01 am

    [...] http://www.fatcyclist.com/2013/01/31/a-winter-dilemma/ - The Fat Cyclist ruminates on fat-bikes. [...]

  45. Comment by roan | 02.1.2013 | 10:12 am

    What’s this I hear…fatcyclist is getting a fat bike ! AWESOME !.
    AND will DO the 100MoN this year on said bike, outside, no rollers, he’s the MAN.

  46. Comment by Sean | 02.1.2013 | 10:34 am

    Fatty – as you are now skinny are you not morally obliged to own a fat bike? Otherwise you may need to change the name of this site to avoid confusion. Skinny Cyclist just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

    Fat bikes have exploded in popularity here in Ottawa, Canada in part because the winter weather and snow conditions have been so variable the past 3 years. Snow conditions for classic and backcountry are terrible more than they have been good. We went from -30C and lots of fresh snow last week to +12C with rain two days ago and now back to -15C today. This results in conditions that are perfect for fat bikes though – hard and crusty. I hear they are fun in the sandy washes of Utah and Arizona as well.

  47. Comment by rich | 02.1.2013 | 12:47 pm

    Fat bikes look like a ton of fun. I almost wish I lived somewhere it snowed so I could own one (almost)
    And any reason to avoid riding the rollers is justification enough to own one (two in your case)

    (just so you know we’re all a bunch of cycle addicts here so don’t look to this group for any type of bike hoarding intervention – we’re all enablers)

  48. Comment by Allison | 02.1.2013 | 1:15 pm

    We see fatbikes being ridden on the desert trails in Arizona. People who own them says they’re just a hoot to ride. So, it’s actually a year round proposition to ride it, thus making the ROI for the cost justification that much easier to make. Go get one! Drop the bean dip.

  49. Comment by AKChick55 | 02.1.2013 | 2:14 pm

    As the proud owner of a fat tire bike, I say, get your butt out and buy one! They are AWESOMELY fun. Seriously. I am extremely partial to 907 fat bikes as they are designed by a couple of Alaskans who race in long distance winter races (like the Iditabike). I also personally know one of the owners (Bill) and he’s a top-notch guy. He is a super amazing cyclist and he is the nicest guy. This is the their website: http://fatbikes.com/

    Unfortunately, we haven’t had a good snow winter and I can’t afford the fat tire studded tires this year so I haven’t ridden as much as I’d like (is that ironic or what – live in Alaska, record snow last year before I had my bike…)

    I swear my fatty bike weighs less than my MTB. It has top-notch compoenents even theough we didn’t get the super tricked out version.

    So drop the chips and dip fatty – got get a fat bike! Maybe you could see if it could be custom painted with Fatty colors.

  50. Comment by AKChick55 | 02.1.2013 | 2:14 pm

    Also, I have a friend who rode her fat tire 907 well into spring. You can ride them year round and they would make great sand bikes too. :)

  51. Comment by AKChick55 | 02.1.2013 | 2:23 pm

    Didn’t read the posts before I commented. ClydeinKS, you are right! Fat tire bikes are Super duper duper awesome fun. They are super stable and safe. I own skate skis, snowshoes, etc. but my winter sport of choice is to ride the 907. I recommend pogies (they cover your handlebars and keep your hands warmer by cutting wind and creating a warm pocket) and a good pair of warm, lightweight books (I have Keens). The only other thing is to make sure you carry a lighweight down coat if it’s cold in case you have to stop and fix your tire or if you take a break. Once you ride one, you won’t be able to remove the smile from your face! I’m on vacation in Hawaii or I’d send a picture.

  52. Comment by Darrin | 02.2.2013 | 11:56 am

    You’re eating salsa. Salsa makes fatbikes. Coincidence? I think not.

  53. Comment by Arizona Guy | 02.4.2013 | 12:21 pm

    Eldon -

    I’m not sure whether to be disappointed or pleased that I have apparently taken weight loss more seriously than you (so far) this year. Since New years day I have gone from $1.85 to $1.72 which is a loss of over 12 cents. Stick that in your bean dip.

    Or perhaps you are waiting to once again show your super power of dropping weight quickly. I usually grit my teeth in spring and manage to shave off maybe 5 pounds for race season – while you drop 15 or 20. I have even practiced the eqq white and avocado omelet which (for me) manages to deliver the chewy texture of Twizzlers without the annoying taste…

  54. Comment by Wisailer | 02.5.2013 | 7:00 am

    Recently moved from Wisconsin to Florida with my Fat Bike – and they are as much fun on the beach, inthe swamps, on the marshes, in the creek beds and in the sugar sand – as they are in the snow. In fact, I urban commute 12 miles a day on my Fat Bike – they are a blast to ride! I haven’t ridden my LHT in weeks now

  55. Comment by Jacko | 02.7.2013 | 4:38 pm

    I ride my fatbike year round. The trails in my area are sandy and soft, so the 4″ tires keep me rolling along while treading lightly. Winter is a hoot, but it sometimes gets difficult to steer on the really thick snow because the tires tend to float to the surface rather than grip.


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