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Fatbiking - a How-to

Tuesday • December 22, 2015

Fatbiking is the newest way to have fun in winter! Try it on your next visit to Fernie.

If you can ride a bike, you can ride a fatbike. Fernie's amazing trail system is perfect for winter riding, with everything from easy, level, multi-use community trails, to groomed shared trails, to challenging singletrack.

Fatbiking is more accessible than you might think! Fatbikes are just like any other bike, but with custom forks and extra wide tires to provide extra stability, grip and stopping power in the snow. It's a self-powered activity; you can go anywhere you feel comfortable riding. It's also great exercise! Just like nordic skiing and snowshoeing, it's a great cardiovascular workout and uses a good range of muscles but is also low-impact thanks to the forgiving snow conditions and bike suspension.

GETTING STARTED

Fernie's outdoor gear shops have stocked up with everything you need to get on the trails and Fernie's mountain biking community have embraced this new sport enthusiastically.

  • Wear light, breathable clothing in layers. Good thermal gloves are essential, and it's wise to wear a toque under your helmet. You'll warm up fast as get moving so make sure to be able to remove some layers easily. Make sure your pants are flexible and close fitting enough for bike riding. You'll find every type of outdoor gear for sale right here in town.

  • Rentals and Retail are available at our great outdoor gear stores:
    • Gearhub have Rocky Mountain Blizzards for rent, plus Norco Sasquatch, Norco Big Foot, Evo townie fatbikes and kid's fatbikes for retail.
    • The Guide's Hut stocks Salsa Mukluks and Trek Fatbikes for rental or retail.
    • Fernie Alpine Resort has Scott fatbikes for rent: $29.99 for 2 hours, $44.99 for half day, $59.99 full day. Book a 'learn to fatbike' session and spend two hours with an experienced guide, exploring the trails and learning tips for biking in the snow. $69, includes rental, helmet, and lesson. Departs 1.30pm on weekends and holidays. 

  • Pick up a copy of the multi-use trail map and ask for advice at gear shops or at the Visitor Information Centre and sign up for a camp or join a weekly ride! Fernie Bike Guides offer instruction and fun rides where you'll meet other fatbikers.

  • Snow Valley Motel & RV Park has 2 complimentary Rocky Mountain -10 Fatbikes available to Motel guests! A great way to try out the activity before you commit to purchasing or renting.

  • When you're ready to purchase, check out the great retail bikes at the stores listed above, or head to Straighline for Borealis fatbikes.

WHERE TO RIDE

Mountain biking trails around Fernie are perfect for riding throughout the winter with clear signage, well-built berms and easy access from town.

  • Beginners might like to start with the community riverside trails through Fernie to get a feel for their bike. These trails are mostly flat with few hills to tackle and become packed down quickly by walkers for easy riding.
  • New multi-use trails in the Montane area off Coal Creek Road are groomed regularly and are the perfect place for beginner and intermediate fatbikers to enjoy wide open trails, meet other riders and enjoy the purpose-built warming hut. This area is under expansion so watch for new trails each time you visit! From downtown Fernie, take 4th street to Pine Ave, then left onto Coal Creek. A parking lot at the bridge and large trail sign marks the entrance to the area. 
  • At Fernie Alpine Resort, fatbikers are welcome on the approx 8km of groomed multi-use trails - Silk, Manchuria & Scandia Loop, accessed via Parking Lot #4. To avoid the steep trailhead, leave your car in the parking lot and ride back out to the road, turning left past the RV Parking to access the trails.
    • Join the weekly Thursday Evening Ride & Dine at Fernie Alpine Resort — every week, departs at 5pm. Experience the tranquility of a 1-hour night ride followed by a delicious dinner at Cirque Restaurant. $59 includes bike rental, headlamp, guided tour, and burger & beer.
  • Trails at Ridgemont are easily accessed from downtown Fernie and offer great riding for more experienced fatbikers. Start from the Fernie Aquatic Centre and follow signage. The Kiddyup-Queen V-Deadfall-Sidewinder loop will be groomed when conditions allow.
  • At Mt Fernie Provincial Park there are several popular areas for winter riding. The groomed trail to Island Lake has an easier start and more challenging midsection, or try the singletrack for more challenging rides. 

TRAIL ETIQUETTE

Most, but not all, trails in Fernie are multi-use, and fatbiking is welcome.

  • Snowshoers and Nordic Skiers have right of way.
  • Please stay at the edge of groomed trails to avoid creating grooves in skate-ski trails, and stay out of tracksets — these are for classic nordic skiing only.
  • Avoid creating craters in the trails — step off to the outside of the trail, not at the centre.
  • Fatbiking is not allowed on Fernie Nordic Society Trails — these are clearly marked at the Fernie Golf Course and at the Fernie Nordic Centre at Mt Fernie Provincial Park.
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