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Women in Fat Biking: Conquering Diverse Terrains with Joy & Confidence

By Megan Flottorp

Today, we are diving into women’s fat biking and discovering why this dynamic discipline might be perfect for adventure-seeking women eager to try something new. You’ve likely experienced the seasonal rhythm of cycling, adjusting your rides as the weather changes. But have you ever considered the exhilarating possibilities of fat biking, regardless of the season?

As a lover of the two-wheel lifestyle, fat biking offers a thrilling year-round experience, taking you across diverse terrains—from snowy trails to sandy beaches and rugged landscapes. And in the relatively recent emergence of fat biking as a popular cycling discipline, women have found a welcoming and equitable space to thrive. Unlike traditional cycling disciplines, fat biking’s inclusive ethos invites you to fully immerse yourself in the sport, no matter your background or experience level. With dedicated events like women’s fat bike retreats and the recent introduction of a UCI-sanctioned snow bike competition in 2024, the fat biking community thrives, offering empowerment and camaraderie to riders across various environments.

As such, we are delighted to share some celebration and insight from women in the fat bike community!

Navigating new terrain with confidence

For women in fat biking, the allure of riding through serene snowy, sandy, and generally rugged landscapes goes beyond physical exhilaration; it represents a journey of self-discovery. Whether tackling winding trails or conquering challenging terrain, women riders embrace the opportunity to push their limits and explore. They inspire others to join them on this transformative journey, forging a path towards greater gender equality in cycling.

“Here’s some advice: just try it and don’t have expectations; enjoy the fun and the ‘weee!’ factor that comes with just being on a fat bike. In terms of skills, it’s certainly important to already know how to ride a bike; core strength is super helpful because sometimes you’re manoeuvring your bike at slower speeds, and balance and reflexes are a must, or you’ll find yourself in lots of soft snow banks for falls. Regarding overall well-being and empowerment, getting me out in the winter and knowing I’m doing things others aren’t makes me feel powerful and proud. As for misconceptions, one common one is that it’s cold, but once you’re out there, it’s very toasty.” – Laura Pascoe

Overcoming challenges, embracing the feeling of freedom

Fat biking in challenging conditions presents unique issues, from navigating deep snow to braving freezing temperatures. However, for many women, these challenges are not barriers but opportunities to showcase their resilience and strength. Unlike traditional cycling, fat biking requires different skills and techniques, such as managing tyre pressure and mastering balance on slippery surfaces. Women who excel in fat biking often push their boundaries and discover newfound confidence in their abilities.

“My overall well-being is through the roof because fat biking allows me to get outside, enjoy the winter wonderland, and spend time with friends. Depending on the conditions, fat biking can be really tough (we joke that 1 mile = 3 miles), so by the end of a ride, I feel strong and confident. I can do anything.” – Sarah Myers

As a lover of the two-wheel lifestyle, fat biking offers a thrilling year-round experience, taking you across diverse terrains—from snowy trails to sandy beaches and rugged landscapes. © Profimedia

And a note on what you need to stay comfortable out there:

“Fat biking is a winter game changer! I’m not one for indoor training, so the ability to get out in the winter for a ridiculously fun ride is right up my alley. I love that it requires balance, and if you do fall, you’re more likely to land in a cushion of snow. Plus, the social aspect is fantastic, and the winter scenery is stunning.

For my fellow female enthusiasts, my main advice would be to nail down the right gear – it really does make a world of difference! I swear by Merino layers, zip-pits, barmitts, warm moon boots, and a saddle free of the slush-shooting gap. When selecting clothing, think about what I like to call “The Fluff Factor”: go for the fluffiest option for maximum warmth! Hold up a couple of alternatives, look closely, and choose the one with the most fluff! That will provide a cozy barrier between you and the elements.” – Julia Flook

Redefining strength and skill

Fat biking requires a unique set of skills and strengths, which aren’t inherently gendered. While traditional cycling often emphasises speed and endurance, fat biking prioritises balance, technique, and adaptability. Women who excel in fat biking showcase their prowess in physical strength, mental fortitude, and strategic decision-making.

“Here’s some insight into specific skills or techniques: knowing what pressure your tyres should run at for different types of surfaces is key. Lower pressure works best for snow, while higher pressure is preferable for road riding. Addressing misconceptions, it’s commonly thought that fat bikes are only for riding on snow. However, I ride mine year-round. Also, be prepared for the fact that you will be slower on a fat bike compared to a mountain bike or road bike.” – Mandy Hansel

“I love the pseudo focus on balancing and dynamics of the changing snow conditions from weather and people tracks!” – Kathy Giess

Breaking stereotypes, inspiring others

As more women venture into fat biking, they challenge stereotypes and inspire others to follow suit. By fearlessly tackling difficult terrains and pushing their limits, these women are redefining what it means to be a cyclist. They’re proving that cycling isn’t just a warm-weather activity reserved for the daring few but an inclusive sport that welcomes all who dare to explore.

“I live in Fairbanks, Alaska, where winter lasts for about 6-7 months, making it one of the best places to live if you enjoy winter fat biking! This is my second winter here, and I fat bike daily with my children as they commute to school every day via bike. We haven’t missed a day of biking to school, even when we had a cold snap a few weeks ago and hit -50F!!

For me, fat biking is incredibly fun. I love being able to bike regardless of the cold temperatures and the icy and snowy road conditions! It gets my blood pumping and keeps the adventures alive all winter long. With minimal daylight hours during the winter, you can satisfy your sense of adventure by biking in the dark with reflective attire, vests, and lights on!!

To other women who are considering fat biking, what are you waiting for?! There are so many adventures out there—jump on it!” – Alice Byrne

Building a supportive community

One of the most rewarding aspects of fat biking for women is the sense of community that comes with it. Whether swapping stories and tips at local bike shops or connecting with fellow riders on social media, women in fat biking find support and encouragement from like-minded individuals. This sense of camaraderie not only enhances the cycling experience but also fosters lasting friendships and bonds.

“Going with a fun group is key. It’s okay to ride alone, but riding with friends is so much better. Fat bikes can definitely be used all year round. Personally, I’ve found that I’m not super fast, but I enjoy riding for a long time. Fat bikes can really be packed up and hold all the gear needed for a long trek. As an XS frame gal, I can put a bike rack on and carry all required gear easily.

It’s essential to get it out of your head that you’ll bike super fast, like on a road bike. You are not. You will be humbled but in a good way. Any time I get in the saddle, I feel amazing. The ride becomes an adventure, and nature becomes my therapy. Do things that bring you joy, and fat bikes bring joy.” – Dana Tingley