If you’ve been fat-biking for any length of time, and are a Facebooker, you probably already know Mark Peterson from Ogden, UT. If, by chance, you’ve not had the pleasure to make his acquaintance in person I suggest you put that on you list because I believe it would be hard to find a nicer guy and a more enthusiastic fat-biker!
Mark wrote this story, in part, for a local publication but due to publishing constraints it was not published in it’s entirety. We don’t have problems with space here at fat-bike.com and wanted to share Mark’s complete story. So, here goes!
I grew up on a bicycle. I still remember my first bike and the excitement that it promised. I lived for the adventures that revealed themselves every time I rode. My friends and I went everywhere on our bikes. The bicycle became the nexus of all that was wonderful in life…..then I grew up. I have always loved my bikes and where they would take me, but I had lost that sense of exploration and excitement.
Life became routine and a function of necessity. I needed to commute in an affordable way, so I purchased a road bike. This was cool because I had never really ridden one and it was a new experience for me. I found something within myself blooming again. Many years went by and I became a seasoned bicycle commuter riding year round in rain and snow. There was a certain kind of grit developing in my character that compelled me to ride no matter what the weather was doing and I liked that.
One day I was riding home from Salt Lake City to Ogden with a friend when an accident took place. As a result my carbon road bicycle was destroyed in said accident. It was the beginning of something amazing. I had no idea of the significance at the time, but this was the beginning of my new life.
I had a choice to make. Do I purchase a custom road bike or should I do the practical thing and buy a commuter specific bicycle? At this point I remembered seeing an ad, in years gone by, in a bicycling magazine for a Fat Bike. When I first saw that fat tire bicycle I remember thinking “That would be the coolest thing in the world”, but who can spend that much money on a “Freakish” bike that seemed to have zero functionality in the real world?
I had enough money to purchase a really nice custom bike, or I could buy a couple of purpose specific bicycles that would make my commuter life easier and explore this new genre that I was drawn to ever since I had first seen that Fat Bike ad. I found myself imagining the adventures that would be possible with a bicycle that can go almost anywhere in almost any condition. Finally having acquired the gumption from commuting year round and to ride in any weather and/or condition, I decided to purchase a commuter specific bike and a Fat Bike!
That Summer I brought my new Fat Bike home and I put it in my living room. I just could not take my eyes off of it. Now more than ever I felt drawn to this wonderful new exploration bicycle. I clearly remember dreaming that night of going places that my mountain bike could not. Sure it was the middle of the summer but I had to take my new Adventure Generator out to see how it would ride on the local trails.
The first thing I noticed was that the rolling resistance was not what I thought it would be. I expected an exaggerated mushy resistance equal with what the tires looked like. I was pleasantly proven wrong. This Fat Bike rolled almost exactly like my fully suspended mountain bike. The next thing I noticed was the feeling of confidence that the bike was transmitting to me through the handling. It was quick but not twitchy and easily accepted my body language, making the bike handle just as good, if not better, than my mountain bike. Then there was the traction. Our local trails have a lot of loose rock and marbles that make riding very technical. On my first ride I experienced the primary gift of fat bikes, traction! Loose sketchy terrain became easy to negotiate allowing me to ride at a faster pace. Climbing loose rocky sections of the trail and tight switchbacks became almost effortless. The increase in traction due to the Fat tires at a relatively low pressure made braking a wonderful experience of control. I could ride faster into corners and brake effectively without skidding and then rail into the corners far faster than on my mountain bike. I was very surprised and super excited to see what this bike could do. I continued to ride all of my bicycles throughout the summer. I, however, find myself preferring the Fat Bike more and more. By the end of summer it was the only bike I took to the trails.
As the seasons changed I felt a new excitement growing. I wanted to see what my Fat Bike would do in the winter. I had ridden in the snow ever since I was a kid, those experiences were almost always comical if not downright dangerous. Any extended rides on snow were on solidly packed trails or roads. I remember that you could not ride very aggressively, that you had to stay vigilant about balance and direction of travel and even then it was assured that you would wreck at some point. My excitement only grew as the weather changed to winter and the snow began to fly and before I knew it the time was upon me.
My first ride in the snow was through my yard and others. I felt like a kid again. Grinning from ear to ear as I pedaled through my neighborhood. Yup, I was looking for stuff to try to ride through and over. Throughout that first ride I learned that this adventure machine was quite capable of concurring nearly everything I pointed it at, but not invincible. I learned that in more than 8” of fresh snow that a Fat Bike is still just a bicycle and you would get stuck. I also learned that momentum was the key to Fat Bike riding. The more I could keep my momentum up the easier I could ride. And that body position was very important. You cannot ride a Fat Bike in the winter with the same body language as you would ride in the summer. I found that my center of gravity moved towards the back of the bike. This aspect impacts everything from traction to cornering. Once I learned these aspects and practiced them a bit it was time to experience the same trails I rode in the summer that were now covered in snow.
I am a winter person and I have always enjoyed our local bounty of mountainous terrain. I love that surreal quiet of the mountains in the winter. The crisp cold air laden with promise of Adventure. I knew that after we had a winter storm dumping over a foot of snow, that the local trails would be packed buy snowshoers and hikers. This proved to be the perfect place to explore with my Fat Bike. Delightfully I came to feel that this kind of riding was comparable to riding in the summer as far as traction, cornering and braking. I frolicked all winter exploring more and more trails. Anything that had been packed was fair game to try to ride my Fat Bike on. It was the most fun winter that I can remember in my life. It was then I became a full Fat Bike convert.
Now I wanted to know if there was any other Fat Bikers out there and if any of them were local. I became “obsessed” with Fat Bikes, a fanatic if you will. I found a web site called Fat-Bike.com and learned of an entire culture of other people that also shared my love for Fat Bikes. Before long I found other local Fat Bikers and started to create events to gather Fat Bikers together. The Fat Bike community started to grow and grow. Every time I let someone ride my Fat Bike they always came back with a smile. The experience is so profound that many people after their first ride decide that a Fat Bike is in their near future. Even hard core road cyclists that proclaimed the stupidity and fad-ishness of Fat Bikes often change their minds after they ride one.
Fat Bikes changed my Life! I found something rejuvenating and empowering that makes live interesting, perhaps even worth living. I have gone beautiful places and have met scores of fantastic people that I will be friends for life. I have experienced the local bounty of world class terrain in both summer and winter on my Fat Bike. The most important thing of all is I have rediscovered Adventure.
Mark’s Fat-bike Tips & Tricks
- Tire pressure – Tire pressure can make or break having a good time on a fat bike. Not to mention the performance side of things. For winter riding start at 10-12 psi. Ride for a bit then drop the pressure a little, and repeat until you find the perfect pressure for your riding style. I run 5 psi in the winter.
- Body position – Move your weight back slightly from your normal positioning. This will help with traction and help prevent the front end from washing out.
- Momentum – Momentum is the Fat Bikers best friend and plays a huge role when riding twisting and rolling terrain.
- Apparel – Layers, layers, layers. Be prepared for cold, but know you will warm up throughout the ride. Wear gear that allows you to vent efficiently.
- Ride time – During the early season ride late at night or early in the morning when the ground is frozen so you don’t wreck the trails with ruts. Be aware of the tracks you leave and considerate of others.
- Lighting – Invest in a decent lighting system. It is dark in the winter & trails are easier to follow if you can see them.
If you are in the Ogden/Salt Lake area here are 5 of Mark’s favorite summer trails and 5 of his favorite winter trails.
- The Bonneville shoreline trail from 12th street north to Jump off trail head
- Mule shoe and Mule ear in North Fork Park
- Skyline trail from North Ogden divide to Windsurfer beach at Pineview Reservoir
- Skyline trail from North Ogden divide to Ben Lomond Peak
- Bird song from Rainbow Gardens and the rest of the Bonneville Shoreline trail network to the south.
- Bird song from Rainbow Gardens and the rest of the Bonneville Shoreline trail network to the south.
- The Shore line trail at Pineview reservoir
- The canal road above Ogden north to North Ogden
- Bonneville shoreline from the lower trail head north over North Ogden
- The Nordic center in North Fork Park
Thanks very much to Mark for sharing his journey! If you’ve been inspired to ride again, if fat-bikes bring back that “I’m feel like a kid again” feeling or if you simply love fat-biking, why not share you story? Shoot me a note to firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s share your own experiences!