Two-Wheeled Winter Fun
It is rare in the world of winter sports for a new activity to gain a foothold alongside alpine skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. But over the past couple of years, fat biking has managed to do just that. Here in Sun Valley—where mountain biking reigns supreme during the summer—we jumped into fat biking with reckless abandon. Want to join us? Here is all about how to enjoy a day of winter fat biking in Sun Valley.
What is Winter Fat Biking?
Winter fat biking is the act of pedaling a bike with super-fat tires over a packed trail of snow. A fat bike’s signature tires, which are typically over 4 inches wide, provide a loft and float that allows the bike to glide over groomed snow trails. Fat bikes are beefy in size and stable in their construction. If you can ride a bike on the pavement, you can ride a bike on the snow.
Where to Ride in Sun Valley
You’ll find no shortage of places to ride a fat bike in Sun Valley and its neighboring communities. With over 60km of trails groomed for fat bikes, the world is your (snowy) oyster.
Sun Valley Nordic
Located just north of the Sun Valley Village, the Sun Valley Nordic and Snowshoe Centeroffers five fat biking trails, which provide a total of 16km of fat biking terrain. A Sun Valley Nordic pass is required.
Sawtooth National Recreation Area
The Sawtooth National Recreation Area (SNRA) headquarters, located on Highway 75 north of Ketchum, is the beginning of an extensive network of Nordic ski trails that stretch all the way to Galena Lodge. The Durance Loop, a 7km trail groomed for fat bikes and skiers, starts at the SNRA headquarters building. A Blaine County Recreation District (BCRD) pass is required.
Quigley Nordic in Hailey offers the perfect 5km fat bike loop for beginners. The area’s Dog & Fat Tire Loop is exactly what it sounds like: a spot for fat bikes, skiers, and their dogs to enjoy a flat, comfortable cruise over snow. A BRCD Quigley Nordic pass is required.
Wood River Trail
The Wood River Trail — a 32km valley-long bike path that runs from Bellevue to Ketchum — welcomes fat bikers and any other form of non-motorized recreation. No pass is required to enjoy the Wood River Trail.
What to Wear Fat Biking
Fat biking is an active sport, so it is wise to dress in layers that allow you to easily regulate your temperature.
For your torso, wear a long-sleeved shirt that wicks sweat and top it with a softshell or lightly insulated jacket. Add a vest on chilly days to help keep your core warm.
Cover your legs with warm leggings or another type of tight-fitting, insulated pants. Like all bikes, the chain ring near the pedals can catch loose pant legs and send you toppling. Wear thick, warm socks to keep your toes comfortable, and waterproof shoes that allow your ankle some flexibility to turn the pedals. If you are doing a long ride, consider wearing padded chamois shorts underneath your pants to protect your backside.
Find a thin hat to wear underneath your helmet to keep your ears toasty, and a neck gaiter to keep the wind from going down your front. Your hands won’t get a great workout, so be sure to have extra warm gloves. Don’t forget the sunscreen and a helmet!
Fat Bike Trail Etiquette
The trails that welcome fat bikes in Sun Valley are multi-use trails shared with Nordic skiers and sometimes dogs. To decrease user conflicts and maintain the integrity of the trails, be sure to only ride a purpose-built fat bike. Purpose-built fat bikes have tires over 3.6” wide that are inflated to no higher than 10psi.
On the trail, fat bikes should yield to all other users. All dogs you encounter should be on a leash or under voice command, but recognize that this isn’t always the case. With the exception of the Wood River Trail, fat bike trails do not allow foot traffic and walking—be sure to stay on your bike.
If in doubt, just ask! Courtesy ski patrollers check in on all of the BCRD’s trails, and Sun Valley Nordic & Snowshoe Center has a staffed headquarters. Grooming reports and trail conditions can be found at BCRD’s Winter TrailLink and Sun Valley Resort’s Nordic Report.
Where to Rent a Fat Bike
Fat bike and helmet rentals are available at:
Not-To-Miss Fat Biking Event
Be sure to check out the Snowball Special Fat Bike Race. The 2019 event will happen on Febrauary 23rd.
What are you waiting for? Get out there already! We’ll see you on the trails.