Do you struggle to keep your feet warm on cold rides? Years ago, I thought that was the norm for winter riding, but it turned out I just didn’t know the best way to deal with the cold. Back in those years, I was a roadie who took pride and legitimately enjoyed training through the snowy winter months chasing that oft-elusive early-season form. In the hills of southern Wisconsin and then the Front Range foothills of Colorado, I hammered around on a ‘cross bike outfitted with studded Nokians and fenders, with my torso and legs layered up for whatever the temperature. But for years on end, my feet absolutely froze, even with oversized shoes, extra socks, and a double layer of neoprene booties on the coldest days. Every long ride would end with my socks soaked in sweat and my toes painfully cold bricks. More often than not, I’d get home with an ironic combination of huge hunger, because I never ate nearly enough on rides, and screaming barfies as my toes started to painfully warm up.
Falling For Front Range Fat Biking: Josh’s 2014 Surly Moonlander
The first time I laid eyes on a fat bike was in 2011. I was picking up my race bib for the American Birkebeiner 50k, the famed cross-country ski race in Hayward, Wisconsin. Surly had an expo booth outside with their demo fleet of fat bikes prominently positioned so they’d be the first thing you saw. You couldn’t miss the line-up of jumbo-rubbered Pugsleys kitted out with 26×3.8″ tires, ready for a test ride. I made my way to the booth and asked about these foreign looking monster bikes. I was promptly told that I should ride one and find out for myself. As I looked down the row, I saw one with much larger tires than all the rest. It was a Moonlander, there to show off Surly’s newly announced expedition fat bike.
Off-Season Travails: An Ode to Winter Riding
As a salute of solidarity to everyone who keeps getting out on the bike through winter, Hailey Moore shares three tales of off-season travails from riding through this most testing season.
The Gamble of Winter Bikepacking in Wyoming’s Gros Ventre
The peaks of Wyoming’s Gros Ventre Range might not be quite as photogenic as the towering, craggy summits of the nearby Tetons, but snaking through the Gros Ventres just west of the Continental Divide is something the Tetons lack – a substantial network of mostly-groomed winter trails. I didn’t know much about the trails, but looking at topo maps of the area, it looked impressively rugged terrain, much more so than other places where I’ve done longer rides on a fat bike. Last January, I was in the nearby Teton Valley, and looking for a change of scenery and trails, Kait Boyle and I decided to venture over to the Gros Ventres for a few days to see just what the winter riding was like.
Maine: America’s New Fatbiking Biking Mecca?
My friend Seth Levy, an obsessive bicyclist of the most masochistic variety, relentlessly tried to get me to fatbike with him when I lived in Maine in the mid-2010s.
“But I don’t like being cold, and I’m not a cyclist,” I explained. Maine’s long winters were glum, wet, and frigid. I preferred being in front of my wood-burning stove. And improved weather meant rock climbing.
Ignoring me, he enthused that I could ride fat-tire bikes all year round.
“Fatbikes open up so much more terrain for winter AND summer,” he explained. Yes, Maine has long winters, but also long springs “filled with mud, wet rocks and sloppy dirt roads,” perfect for a fatbike, not to mention great terrain to ride in the summer (aka “black fly season”).
“I’m not a skilled mountain biker, but I can do things with a fatbike I didn’t know were possible,” he added. “A steep hillside covered with roots and rocks becomes something you can ride up with a fatbike. Plus it’s such a new sport. Nobody is good at it!”
We Either Make It, Or We Don’t: Traversing Iceland on Fatbikes
Below are a series of stories from a trip Gus Morton took across Iceland during winter on a fat bike with his friends Chris Burkard and Rebecca Rusch. They are reflections of what he was thinking and feeling in a particular moment and by no means an accurate account of the reality of any situation. Reflections which, as those present will likely attest, were probably far less dramatic.
45NRTH’s Ragnarök Tall Winter Boot
Nobody likes cold, wet feet, and if you enjoy riding all winter through inclement weather, you know how it can be a struggle. Luckily, brands like 45NRTH make riding boots like the Ragnarök Tall Winter Boot. The Ragnarök Tall has a redesigned neoprene cuff, making taking them off and putting them on even easier. Designed for 25ºF+ riding, with BOA lace closure, the Ragnarök Tall might just be the cornerstone in winter riding. See more at 45NRTH.
Winter Bikepacking to a Local Mountain in Norway
Do you remember that feeling way back when you learned to ride a bike? I had just begun school when I got my first bike. Day in and day out I would sit on the seat and push myself along the roadside curb with my right foot. My strides became longer and longer until one day I put caution to the wind and took my first pedal strokes. That day, the bike became my freedom machine. The world suddenly grew bigger, right in front of my tiny handlebars. I never looked back.
Bob Allen is a longlong adventurer, photographer, and storyteller. In recent years, he’s experimented with a new interactive 360º environmental mapping technology. We’re stoked to present his latest project, dubbed ‘Wild Ice’, so read on for Bob’s words and a 360º map by clicking through below.
Tick. Tick. Tick…
It turns out 60 seconds was a long time to ride no-handed – with my eyes shut. The rotation of my cranks was the only feedback that I had any forward motion. Arms outstretched, I just had to trust my balance and resist the temptation to visually confirm that eating shit wasn’t imminent. Relax. Breath. Just keep pedaling…
Explore Your Boundaries: Mark Beaumont & Markus Stitz
‘Explore your Boundaries‘ was inspired by encouraging people to see familiar and local areas in unfamiliar ways, showing how great adventures can happen from your own front door. Filmed on a newly created gravel bike route, which follows the local authority boundary of the City of Edinburgh, and additional locations close to the Scottish Capital during January and February 2021, the short documentary from Markus Stitz and Mark Beaumont highlights the beauty and challenges of exploring places on two wheels in snow and ice.
Shift: A Bike to Board Journey
This film dives into Stratton Matteson‘s personal journey of shifting away from fossil fuel-powered transportation and opting for a pedal-powered pursuit of his passion for split-boarding. It’s a story of adventure and a call to action: How can we shift our lives *now* to preserve a livable planet for ourselves and future generations? Through biking to board he finds a way to continue doing what he loves while feeling integral in his actions.
Rails to Trails
Follow bikepacking guide Timo Veijalainen as he takes Kona Ambassador Erkki Punttila and former Kona Factory DH team rider Antti-Pekka Laiho on a wintery two-wheeled adventure through the magical landscape of Kiilopää in Finland Lapland’s Urho Kekkonen National Park.
It was the speed at which it happened that shocked me the most. One minute Tomas and I were laughing hysterically as I tumbled into the snow for the umpteenth time, the next I was genuinely scared my buddy was about to collapse into some awful hypothermic coma. It was terrifying.
A Snow Day in the Sangre De Cristo Mountains
The last time I lived somewhere that got consistent snow was New York City in the early 2000s and that ain’t exactly the kind of snow you want to go playing around in on your bike. It should come as no surprise that moving to Santa Fe has taken some adjustment over the past year – pandemic aside – having four real seasons once again meant I had to evaluate my cold-weather gear and look into getting a fatbike under me for the proper powder days.
Bikepacking Adventure on a Bowhead Reach
In 1996, Christian Bagg suffered a spinal cord injury and he thought he’d never ride again. For years, he worked on developing an adaptive mountain bike. On Dec 3rd 2020, Christian Bagg and his buddy Chris Brown head out on 2 Bowhead Reach Adaptive Mountain Bike to do a S240 trip, something never before possible for a rider with a spinal cord injury!
Terrene: Griswold Winter Road Tires
First, what a name. Who doesn’t love watching Christmas Vacation? Second, black ice is sketchy, so if you’re commuting or riding icy roads in the winter, studded tires make all the difference. These 700×38 tires have 120 studs and will allow for up to 240 to be installed to keep your rubber side down. They’re $95 a piece, so head to your local dealer for ordering and over to Terrene for more information.
PEdALED Has You Covered This Winter with the Insulated and Waterproof Odyssey Collection
Riding in inclement weather takes a special kind of motivation and one thing that can really up the ante in terms of confidence is good, warm, and dry apparel. For their latest drop, PEdALED has raised the stakes with a series of kit pieces that can bolster your existing riding kit. From waterproof pants and jacket to insulated pants and jacket, there’s something for just about any winter ride. Head to PEdALED to see the full kit breakdown.
Frostbite in January, Amputate in June: The Long Lost Lofoten Story
Author’s Note: This article was originally written almost 4 years ago, but was shelved after thinking I had lost a majority of the photos to a failed drive. After I managed to find many of the lost photos on an old SD card, I figured it was still worth sharing the last trip that inspired me to quit my job and travel the world by bike…