Written by Aaron Couch with our partners at Fitzgerald's Bicycles.
There is a magic to exploring the winter on two wheels. Here in the Tetons, we are fortunate enough to have incredible winter access, regardless of our preferred method of travel. And with that, fat biking is becoming increasingly popular, allowing you to cover ground in a short amount of time, while still going slow enough to enjoy the view.
The Fat Bike Experts
When it comes to fat biking, our partners at Fitzgerald’s Bicycles are the experts! Located in both Jackson, WY and Victor, ID, you can leave right from either shop and ride up into the hills.
We make it easy by providing either flat or clipless pedals, a helmet, repair kit and extra gear such as frame bags, seat packs and pogies for keeping your hands toasty. We even have rental lights available should you want to go for a night ride or join on our Fat Tuesday group rides. Shop members will also help you to fine tune tire pressure, educate you on proper trail etiquette and show you the best places to ride.
What To Wear
You may already have some gear from other winter activities. We’ve found that the clothing and layers you would wear while cross-country skiing or snowshoeing works well for fat biking too. It’s important to keep moisture management and breathability in mind and prevent your insulating layers from getting damp. Pro tip: rotate and remove layers before you start to sweat!
While it seems tempting, we often advise against wearing a backpack to put extra layers and gear in as they accelerate sweat and moisture on the back. This is why having a frame and/or seat bag along your ride is important, providing a place to stow away layers if necessary.
- Gear recommendation: Pair the Fremont Stretch Fleece with the Alpiner for ultimate breathability and warmth.
- Gear recommendation: The Basis Power Wool Tight will sit comfortably under any outer layer pant.
- Gear recommendation: The Harkin Buff and Basis Power Wool Beanie will pair well with your helmet and keep your face warm from cold air.
Food and Water
These often go overlooked for winter fat bike rides, especially water. Despite being cooler, the air here is still dry -- bring water in an insulated bottle. For very cold days or long rides, start with hot water in a metal, insulated bottle.
Pro tip: to keep your water from freezing, carry the bottle upside down with a coozie covering the top. Because water freezes from the top down, you’ll still be able to drink the liquid form, even if it begins to freeze.
It’s a good idea to bring some snacks for the ride. Fat biking uses a lot more energy than other forms of cycling. You don’t want to be caught out there hungry and bonking -- this is supposed to be enjoyable and fun, not miserable! Bring light foods that you know work for you.
Where To Ride
This is an exciting time for fat bikers in the Tetons as access continues to grow! In Jackson, Cache Creek has exceptional riding. Check out the ever-popular Cache Creek out and back mapped by our friends at JHNordic.com, or the well-ridden Hagen Trail loop. Granite Hot Springs is another popular fat biking destination as the road is closed to vehicles in the winter, making it accessible only to snowmobiles, bikers and cross country skiers.
In Teton Valley, the Southern Valley Trail System provides exceptional groomed fat biking thanks to Fitzgerald’s Bicycles’ and Teton Valley Trails and Pathways’ grooming efforts. Grand Targhee has world-class groomed fat biking.
If you want to venture out from there, chat with the Fitzy's staff for more exploring and adventures -- many roads are groomed for snowmobile access, which fat bikes are welcome on.
NOTE: Most places where fat bikes can ride are shared with other winter recreationists. Be kind, remember trail etiquette and be mindful of all users from skiers to snowmobilers, dog-sleds to snowshoers.
Guide to Winter Cycling Gear
It can be hard to know where to start when you’re looking to expand your cycling season to include winter cycling. Here is Stio’s essential list of what to look for when picking your gear. What you put on as your bottom most layer for cold weather cycling can work with or against your other layers. We recommend starting with nature’s finest fiber – merino wool. Merino wool naturally thermoregulates your body temperature, keeping you comfortable and warm, even as you heat up on the fat biking trail. This amazing fiber also works with your other layers, allowing sweat vapor to move away from the body, helping to keep you dry and warm all summer long. Next, we recommend throwing on a vest or mid-layer if you need extra warmth. It adds an extra layer of warmth and helps block out even the coldest winds. For your winter cycling jacket and pants, we recommend picking a material meant to deflect whatever winter (or the snow plow) may throw your way. Stio’s winter cycling jackets are made with weather resistant materials that keep the wet and wind out, allowing you to tack on more miles as winter rolls along. The final part of your kit is the accessories, like gloves, helmet compatible beanies, and face masks, all designed to help you beat the elements while you enjoy a bike ride during the soft falling snow.
Essential Riding Gear for Winter Cycling
Heading out for a bike ride in the winter can seem daunting unless you wear the right winter cycling gear. Once your winter cycling kit is figured out, the weather can’t keep you from grinding out miles all year round. We’ll walk you through what to wear cycling when you’re doing a winter ride, so you can get out on the road in comfort. Every great adventure starts with a great base layer. And when it comes to a great cold weather base layer, we look to nature for guidance. Our base layers are made with one of nature’s most extraordinary fibers – merino wool. Have you ever noticed that sheep wear the same coat, regardless of the season? That’s because merino wool naturally thermoregulates your body temperature, helping you to stay cool as you heat up and stay warm as temperatures drop. We think having merino wool next to your skin during winter cycling is the best way to keep you from overheating and getting cold. It is the perfect balance of warmth and performance. Keep your legs pumping and moving mile after mile with our warm thermal fleece bottoms. Like your base layer top, our thermal fleece bottoms help you stay warm without making you feel cold and sweaty. Top your base layers off with our softshell jacket and pants, made with stretch fabric that moves with you instead of limiting your movement during winter riding. Weather-resistant materials help shake off the snow, whether it be falling from the sky or tossed at you by a snowplow. Cold weather rides call for winter hats that are made with lightweight, performance-driven materials that fit comfortably under your helmet. It helps you stay warm without overheating you. Now that you’re bundled up with the right gear that won’t restrict movement but will keep you warm, you’re ready to head out for winter riding.
Things to Look for in Winter Cycling Gear
So now you know all about the benefits of starting with a merino wool base layer and how smarter layering leads to better rides. But what else should you be looking for when building your ideal winter cycling kit? We think having winter clothing that is versatile and can easily transition from performing in freezing temperatures to super breathable layers during spring months is critical. Our softshell jackets do a great job of performing under these exact variable conditions. And performance doesn’t mean sacrificing features. We believe your winter cycling kit needs to have benefits like easy-to-access stash pockets in case you need a spare pair of gloves or a quick bite to eat on your ride. Reflective details aren’t just for fashion on our winter cycling jackets – they help to keep you safe on the road. Cozy storm flaps not only help block out the wind, sleet, and snow but are also fleece-lined to help protect your chin and face as you tuck in for a downhill section. Freezing temperatures while you’re winter riding calls for the right winter cycling gear, with the right amount of performance, balanced with thoughtful detailing and features. Stio is the company that understands what it takes to stay warm for winter cycling and has a full line of cold weather cycling gear to keep you pedaling, no matter the season.
Stay tuned for part two of this series which will dig into gear specifics, bike specifics, and more.