The Allure of Fat Biking at Grand Targhee

Grand Targhee in Wyoming is first and foremost a ski resort. But a few years ago, the resort leapt at the chance to add another sport to their roster: fat biking.

If you’re in an area that gets blanketed with snow for half the year, finding a cycling activity that works well in the cold is key, and fat biking is filling that void. With snow in the forecast for the resort, it’s time to dust off those chubby tires and hit the trails. “We average 500 inches of snow a year,” says Andy Williams, Grand Targhee Resort’s Event Manager. “It makes sense that people are fat biking around here.”

The fat biking trail system at Grand Targhee opened in 2011, and trails, rentals and races are now available all winter long. With his background in both skiing and biking, Williams was the perfect candidate for designing the trails and getting the fat bike rental program off the ground. “It was about deciding where fat bikers could ride, how soon after the groomers go over the trail to allow bikes on there to avoid soft snow, coming up with guidelines, stuff like that.”

It wasn’t difficult to convince leadership at the resort to invest in fat biking, either. Most were already avid mountain bikers. “If you get people out riding, they come back with huge grins on their faces,” Williams enthuses. “Everywhere I hear of it being done, people can’t keep up with the demand for rental bikes. Sales have increased in the last few years, and every bike company is jumping on the bandwagon. Three years ago, there were only a few companies making them.”

The same year the Grand Targhee trail opened, the resort introduced two fat bike races, now coming into their fourth year. “You can be going ten miles and hour or four miles an hour, it just depends on how firm the snow is. But it’s fun, just really smooth with great views.”

Why should someone try a fat bike? “It’s just a new way to experience winter,” says Williams. “You’re going at slower speeds than you would on a road or a mountain bike, but it gets you out further than you could on them in the winter and you get to see great new stuff. For someone who’s training or wants to ride a lot in the winter, it can give you a different, better option.”

And, of course, there’s the all-important question: how does someone dress appropriately for a fat bike adventure? “You just layer,” says Williams. “Similar to skate skiing. Stretchy, breathable pants that wick moisture. You don’t want to go too heavy on the top, though—you want to have a nice undergarment and a good jacket that allows moisture to get out so you don’t overheat, sweat and then freeze. I tried some of the Club Ride gear last year, and they make some great long sleeve jerseys and jackets that are right in line with what you want to be wearing. And don’t forget a skull cap to keep your head warm!"