Arctic Fat Bike Fever

People are riding places bikes could not go before.

I have a Fat Bike.  I didn’t know that I had a fat bike until I read the Fat Bike Story recently on the Patch.  I’m the proud owner of a potential Fat Bike.  But instead of riding on snow, I shall give it a whirl on the sandy beaches here where I live in the Tropics, until I get back to Woodbury.


From what I read, I believe the fat tires on fat bikes have great traction on dirt to flotation when riding through snow.  The stout tires let a bike roll where it has not rolled before. The stout tires are over four inches across or twice as wide as most mountain-bike tire tread.  This means it adds notable grip on the ground.  The extra surface area and low pressure in the tires does not allow the wheel to sink as much into soft surfaces like snow or sand.  Perfect! To be sure, you won’t get as far with the same amount of energy expenditure as you would with a skinny tire on a hard, flat, dry surface. But it IS the beach (be it white cold sand or hot brown).


Initially, I purchased my Fat Bike in Puerto Rico last August to put on top of a buffet table as a centerpiece.  I desired the cheap-son-of-a-gun because of it’s architecturally value (more like a bouncy armored tank without a seat).  I dreamed of it on a table while sipping some vino and eating; the minute I saw it.  I’ve a great admiration for anything round or that rolls like a wheel - toilet paper rolls; jam jars, steam train wheels, and cylindrical spools.   I couldn’t image life without wheels. Imagine being without a wheelbarrow.  The earliest pictures of wheels are around 5,200 years old, and come from Sumeria (Iraq).  First, Sumerian potters used wheels to spin clay pots.  Potters wheels were copied and used to make vehicles.

Thanks to the article about Fat Bikes by Michael Brun recently, I now know when I’m done having dinner and a drink, admiring my fat bike as a show piece, my bike will visit the sand, mud, wet rocks and roots that I otherwise thought unrideable terrain.  My tires look so sturdy & wide, with that kinda balance, I may be able to do a cart-wheel and more, while riding.  That’s wheelie good…


It’s quite clear that Fat Bikes owners are passionate bicycle enthusiasts. The bikes have wide rims, extra-large tires, and interestingly-dimensioned frames to make it all fit together – apparently this defines a fat bike. I’ve looked at fat bikes from Finland and across the US, to include the popular Surly Moolander.  It’s clear that every bike must have its own story; they look like they are pieced together by some perfect Joe Soucheray, garage logic genius.  Rather than have hung that bike up for an entire winter on a garage hook, those bike lovers rolled up their sleeves, sharpened their pencils, and got something down on graph paper to find out how a Fat Bike woulda and shoulda operate all year round.


Back when my husband worked around West River Parkway along the Mississippi River, we’d notice in the middle of a -30* blizzard, some hippy expatriates attempting a statement by riding their recumbent bike to work at 6am while they recharged their $60K Prius plugin. The roads were as winding as Lombard St. in San Francisco, it was still dark, the black ice was still gleaming upon a road as narrow as the drive-thru behind Micky D’s; but, I suppose social Darwinism must take its toll each year. Yet these indignant firebrands also expected backed up traffic to, naturally, pass into oncoming traffic as they made their ever strident message against big oil and all the other nasties that made up 30% of their billowing 401K. No, the fat-bike crew are a whole new fresh breed – autonomous, free, and… cold.


Whether you are participating or supporting  the Carver Lake Cold Catfish Cup today, Sunday 27th, for the 5.5 to 15 mile track, or attending Arrowhead's 135 Ultra this weekend, (135 miles), with  twenty states and seven countries representing their Ultra Fat Bike –It has happily fused some significant energy and creativity into the bike world.  And boy, oh boy, the cycling world could do with some good cycle wonders - there is no more room for scarecrow brains in the industry (Ahem, some might visualize someone buying a bike for a table display had a few scattered scarecrow brains on loose ends).

The Woodbury races are sponsored by Angry Catfish Bike Shop, Lucid Brewing Company and Potters’ Pasties and Intelligentsia.  You can warm your cockles and toes with Coffee, hot chocolate, food from Potters.  On Sunday too, MN own Lucid Brewing Company will be there with their brews.  Fat Bike demonstrations will be available and Catfish Bike Shop will have the first Sled Pull.  Lots for everyone to enjoy.


It wasn’t until 1790, that Frenchman Mede de Sivrac invented the ‘celerifere’ with no pedals or steering.  The bikes I own, or desire are more similar to the first ones made. 

The first bike was made of wood and had two wheels.  It was fashionable to ride.  27 years later, Karl von Drais added steerable handlebars.  Riding a ‘Draisienne’ bike became all the fashion and sport in Europe where the front wheel now could be steered.

Pedals were added and a bike made from metal arrived in 1839 by Scottish garage logic blacksmith Kirkpatrick Macmillan.  By this time many people copied the bike idea…Born was the ‘Velocipede” which had solid rubber tires.  It was uncomfortable to ride.  Velocipede is French for “fast-foot”.  In England they were called, “Boneshakers”. 

The English inventor James Starley designed what he thought was an improvement on the boneshaker.  He made a bike with an enormous front wheel in 1871.  He named it the “Ordinary”.  It was speedy, but was very wobbly and was the cause of lots of accidents.  Another name for the Ordinary was, the “Penny-Farthing”, after two English coins.

John Starley, nephew of James Starley in 1885 linked pedals to a chain that turned the back wheel.  He made both wheels the same size and initially it was called ‘safety bicycle’.  But, that takes the fun right outta biking for me, so I stay with the boneshakers type when I can pick them up.


With gas prices still in the stratosphere, I read about an electric Bike by Ultra Motor.  It rides like a normal bike when you want it to, then press the handlebar throttle for a boost to climb hills or speed up.  It tops out at 20 mph.  Charge it for a few hours, and it’s good for a 20 mile trip. Cost $2,499. Well, on second thought…


What a way to keep you mind fit and your body in shape. How about ice fishing on a Fat Bike, golfing, or go take on the mighty Iditarod Trail with the dogs in Alaska? The sky is the limit. Bicycling is a way you can share a love of the outdoors no matter what language you speak.  Silver Lake, WI has a High Noon Race too this weekend.  No Fat Bike – No Problem!  They have rider pool teams that share a snow bike, or you ride your own.    Teams are formed the day of event. Like snowshoes, they “could” be taken into deep snow, but will sink. They work best on packed trails, such as groomed snowmobile or cross-country ski trails.

What they say may be true, once you go Fat, you’ll never go back.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Kris Janisch January 27, 2013 at 05:25 PM
Margaret's inspiration: http://patch.com/A-0P4s
Amy Goebel February 05, 2013 at 04:49 AM
I like to think of you rolling along the beaches, wind in your hair, on those Fat tires, Margaret. One of our teachers at Middleton rides his to work every day.
Kris Janisch February 05, 2013 at 04:06 PM
Cool Amy!
Margaret Wachholz March 05, 2013 at 10:26 AM
Hello Amy! Ocean and beaches so gorgeous one is even tempted to try walk on water, let along bike. Not surprised about a Middleton teacher riding his Fat Bike - they are good at lots over there! See you this summer, Amy!? Thank you!
Kris Janisch March 05, 2013 at 03:27 PM
Actually have a photo up today of a guy riding his bike during a snowstorm in Woodbury.


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