by Lauren Costantini of Sacred Rides Boulder
Staying fit in the winter is hard, but fat bikes make it fun and easy to get outside, negating the dreaded trainer sessions and getting you fitter than you may be aware of: you can burn a ton of calories, the balance and core strength that fat biking requires will tone up all those muscles that tend to get soft in the winter, and you’ll gain new bike handling skills, all while goofing off in the snow like a kid again!
BURN BABY, BURN!
A 150-lb person can burn up to 1,000 calories an hour while fat biking in soft conditions. You’re not only working harder to push a heavy bike through snow on 5 psi tires, but you’re pedaling more than you would on a regular bike: the resistance of fat biking doesn’t allow much coasting, so you’re keeping all those muscles revved up every moment of your ride.
You don’t even have to consciously ride hard (ie ‘intervals’) – the very nature of fat biking will bring your heart rate up without you’re even thinking about it! Being out in the cold also revs up your metabolism in general, so you’ll continue burning calories long after you’ve gotten to the brewery for your post-ride beers!
Well, maybe not Arnold exactly, but the strength needed to pedal through snow, the balance with your core muscles needed to keep the bike upright on the trails, the maneuvering needed of the front wheel with your arms and chest, and the flexing of your back and butt to push up the climbs will strengthen and tone all of those muscles in a way that no other cycling discipline can.
Your cadence will be slower as well, so each ride becomes a muscle endurance ride. You literally need to produce more wattage to push that bike forward – and you won’t even notice since you’ll be laughing and smiling all the while!
If you’re interested in cross training, fat biking is a great cool down for Nordic skiing. Conveniently, many Nordic ski areas rent fat bikes and have excellent groomed (and sometimes hilly!) trails at your disposal.
As conditions change throughout a ride, or even ride-to-ride, the balance and maneuverability required to stay upright and on the trail will keep you on your toes. And you will crash. A lot. But you’re falling into a puff of snow, so it’s fun and reminiscent of being a kid again! I’ve found it difficult to pull myself out of snowbanks after crashing on my fattie mainly due to my laughing so hard…
You’ll realize that cornering on snow and climbing steep uphills take more ‘hovering’ and ‘leaning’ than on a mountain bike in dry conditions. These skills will be very obvious to you on your first few fat bike rides – don’t get frustrated! It’s just a little different than mtb-ing, and will transfer over to greatly-improved cornering and climbing come springtime on your regular bike.
Complete blog here
Check out the rest of Lauren’s blog on Fat Biking here:
About Lauren Costantini:
As a former Pro mountain bike and cyclocross racer, I’m thrilled to share my knowledge and love of the Majestic Rocky Mountains and incredible trails around Boulder, Colorado! I love riding 2 wheels of any style: cross country, downhill, all-mountain, fat biking, touring, or commuting to the coffee shop.