Fatbike essentials

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Written on:
April
2023

The snow is slowly leaving us, but there are still a few weeks before the mountain bike trails are dry and ready to be ridden. HOWEVER! If you can't wait to get on two wheels, you can still make the most of the last days of winter. Quebec is full of fatbike trail networks, from the Eastern Townships to the Laurentians, not to mention everything in the Capitale-Nationale. Before you embark on this form of winter biking, we'd like to remind you of a few essentials for winter sports so you can enjoy the ride and stay WARM! 

Helmet

Above all, the head must be protected, don't forget your bike helmet! For cold days, you can add a buff or a thin toque underneath, try it first to make sure it is comfortable.

Eyewear

To protect yourself from the cold or the sun's rays reflecting off the snow, a pair of cycling glasses or ski goggles will keep you from crying (with the wind) on the way down and maximize visibility. If you have a neck warmer that goes over your mouth and nose when it's cold, your breathing may make for a foggy pair of goggles. Pay attention to this point to position this equipment to avoid getting fogged up and then frosted.

Gloves

In the summer, you can consider riding without gloves. However, in winter it is not possible. Depending on the temperature, warmer gloves will be necessary, so test your brakes to ensure you are comfortable and able to brake well. A thinner glove (cross-country type) underneath the warmer ones is a very good strategy to absorb moisture (and if you are very hot, you can remove a pair). Mitten fans, it will be hard to keep them for fatbiking... you need the dexterity to use the brakes and the ability to brake with one finger.

Multilayer

Depending on the pace you decide to take during your bike ride, you will choose a different selection of clothing to be comfortable. Whatever you choose as a route or intensity, the layers you select are essential! By starting with a set of moisture-wicking base layers, you'll be able to get the excess heat out of your body as you ride without getting too cold on the downhill and during snack and water stops. There's nothing worse than sweating and being cold while climbing. Next, opt for a breathable mid-layer. This can be a single vest for milder winter days, or something long-sleeved with breathable material around the armpits and other areas where you create a lot of heat like the back. Soft shells are a fantastic option for the upper and lower body. Whatever layers you choose, avoid clothing with stiff fabrics and make sure you can maneuver comfortably. Finally, a neck warmer for the coldest days will be essential to maintain warmth. 

Footwear

Bulky winter boots can be slippery on the pedals and heavier, so it's best to keep them dry for your post-bike festivities. Regular cycling shoes may not provide the insulation needed for a cold winter ride. Adding shoe covers or gaiters (shorter models) will give you the perfect combo! If you ride clipped-in, you can wear regular cycling shoes with an insulated shoe cover or gaiters. If you're not riding clipped in, you can wear lightweight winter riding boots; make sure the laces are secure and away from the chain. Many cycling brands now offer cold-weather-specific shoes with built-in gaiters, so if fat biking is your new winter hobby, this can be an excellent investment (or a gift to consider). Of course, inside the shoe, you'll want warm, not-too-thick, moisture-wicking socks (ideally made of merino wool). Ski socks can be too bulky, depending on the shoe. Always bring a pair of dry socks to change into at the end of your outing!

Hydration and Snacks

Staying hydrated in the cold can be tricky, but it's still essential. If you've got a hydration pack with an insulated hose, bring this for your ride! If you don't have this, simply bringing an insulated or regular water bottle wrapped in a wool sock or toque kept in your backpack is a great option. Before filling your water bottle, you could boil your water (assuming it can handle hot water, swap the boiling water for warm water, and it'll take longer to freeze). If you've got a lightweight thermos, you could fill it with tea or broth for quick sips throughout your ride to warm you up. Snacks are also key, so don't forget to toss some nutritious bites in your pocket or backpack. <br>TIP: Snacks that won't freeze: dried fruits, energy balls with nut butter, granola bars, and date squares will give you maximum energy.

Now that you're ready for your next fatbike adventure, here are some recommendations of places to try:

Eastern Townships:

Laurentians:

Quebec:

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