FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME
About the Blogger:
Kristen works in our HR department and has been with United for almost 5 years. If you’re wondering what kind of careers are available at United Sport & Cycle, Kristen is the person to talk to!
Fun fact, she’s part of United’s Health & Safety Committee and Social Committee (this crew helps plan our annual Christmas Party and our USIE Awards Night every year). She loves to go running and cross-country skiing.
Trying a Fat Bike for the Very First Time
A couple of weeks ago, Mia—who works in the bike department of our shop—sent out an email to all the staff in our sport store. She was organizing a group ride and wanted to see who was interested in going on a fat bike ride with her!
It was going to be “fun” she wrote… Well, I was intrigued, and I thought, “I’ll try anything once, and I’ll either love it or hate it!” (There’s no in-between with me).
Figuring Out What to Wear Fat Biking
Mia was great in helping us rookies know how to dress, what to wear, and what to bring. I was happy that I didn’t need to buy all new “fat bike” specific clothing, although our bike shop does have lots of winter cycling specific gear available.
On Mia’s advice, I wore:
- Some breatheable layers (a thermal shirt and thermal pants)
- Warm hiking boots (works in a pinch, if you don’t have winter cycling boots)
- Running gloves (works if you don’t have winter cycling gloves or handlebar mitts or pogies)
- A neck warmer
- A running balaclava for keeping my ears warm underneath my helmet (you can also buy insulated winter bike helmets)
- An old school winter puffer coat (Michelin man style!)
Meanwhile, our in-store e-bike expert, Greg, was awesome in making sure that we had the right size of fat bike for our individual body types. He even reviewed the basics of how to operate a fat bike with us!
My Previous Biking Experience
My sports of choice are usually running and cross-country skiing.
Which is to say that I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that working for a sporting goods store I don’t even own a regular bike—let alone a fat bike—so I was uncertain of what to expect. But I trusted Mia when she said it would be fun.
Another “new to fat biking” co-worker also signed up for the experience, and we locked in our “YES” to go fat biking with Mia that weekend. It helped that it was going to be a gorgeous day: sunny, and a—relatively—warm -4°C.
Our Fat Biking Adventure
We headed off, 5 of us in total (3 staff from our bike department, and 2 of us rookies from the admin departments), which was a good number as it was not too intimidating.
Given I’d not ridden a bike in a while, I thought the balance and the motions might feel unfamiliar to my body… but you know the saying “it was just like riding a bike!”
I initially thought that a fat tire bike might feel awkward, but it wasn’t at all! If anything, it felt more stable, and I felt confident I could pretty much go any where.
It was fun being in a big group. There’s power in numbers, and at times I felt like part of a cool bike gang!
We were all there to experience the beauty that Edmonton had to offer in the winter and it was just amazing what happens when you get a fun group of people together. As soon as we headed out on bikes, I immediately felt a dopamine rush, and just general excitement of getting to be active and outside in winter!
Where to Go Fat Biking in Edmonton
We rode for about 2 hours, leaving from our Old Strathcona location (although, I hear that you can also request a rental bike pickup from our West End location).
From there, we headed north and took in the majestic view from Saskatchewan Drive overlooking the Walterdale Bridge.
Then, we navigated some narrow river valley trails down by the North Saskatchewan. We went east to Hawrelak Park, and then slowly pedaled our way back uphill, taking Groat Road towards Belgravia.
From there, we hung out at beautiful “The End of the World” lookout point where we snapped some photos (and—more importantly—talked about where we should stop for lunch!).
Would I Go Fat Biking Again?
Heck ya! I’m not going to lie, my “keister” was not used to the hard bike seat. Next time I go, I’ll invest in some padded bike shorts, or a different bike seat (or a pillow!), but I would hands down go again!
And while I still don’t yet own a bike, I would now personally buy a fat bike before I would buy a regular mountain bike. I love exercising outside in the fall, winter, and spring and—from my first experience—a fat bike would be perfect for this.
As for summer? Well, I’m sure you can have a lot of fun fat biking in the summer too, but summer is patio season, in my opinion!
All in, fat biking has made me excited about being able to go out biking in the winter. We tend to stay inside and are less active in the winter, but being able to get outside and fat bike in the winter makes waiting for spring so much easier!
As I said, I’m still a very inexperienced cyclist, but if I can go fat biking, I figure anybody can!
My final thoughts? I loved it and I think you will too.