Überwintern is my favorite fatbike event of the season. Thanks to a strengthening local and regional fatbike community, 2017 did not disappoint. 320 of us united for a pristine day of winter cycling revelry.
Before I let Colleen (first time fatbiker and MTBVT digital den mother/editor) recount the day, I’d like to fire off a few bits or gratitude to the deserving parties that make Über such an amazing day. Stowe Mountain Bike Club, you guys are the PB to our J! Thanks for manning (& womanning) base camp and the remote aid station. Von Trapp Brewing and Green Mountain Distillers, you know we love you! New comers Tretap… welcome to the fam! Lucy, Matt and Leslie you are supreme groomin’ humans. Chucks Bikes crew Hank, Tom, Pat, Jason thanks for leading the charge on the big ride. Same to you David, Allezy for life! QC crew represent! PA crew represent! Kingdom crew what up?! A round of applause for Rick and Four Points Tours and Mark and Dave from Highland for helping raise the bar with fatbike shuttles! And Sushi Yoshi… most gracious hosts, cheers!
Also, a massive shoutout to the sharp shooting photogs for documenting our shenanigans!
Colleen, take it away…
TALES OF A FIRST TIME FATBIKE
Words from our very own editor and first lady of fatbiking, Colleen
The day began beautifully frigid, with temperatures barely climbing into the double digits. That didn’t stop fat bike enthusiasts from flocking to Stowe for the 2017 Überwintern Festival. Folks arrived early to sign up, grab some demo bikes, and get out on the well-groomed trails of Cady Hill, the rec path, and beyond. Arriving at around 9:30 am, Reed (my husband) and I warmed by the bonfire and took everything in. The atmosphere was full of excitement for the coming adventures!
We watched as happy folks departed on their fat-tired steeds for the beginner through advanced group rides, each full to the brim with smiling bikers. Having never ridden a fat bike before, I was anxious to see what all the fuss was about. With so many vendors around, there were a lot of bikes to try; however, the demos went fast! Brooke Scatchard’s Fat Bike Skis (a fat bike with a ski swapped out for the front wheel…yeah) were constantly being taken out for little joy rides around the festival grounds. We finally found some available demos at the Outdoor Gear Exchange tent – A pair of Rocky Mountain Blizzards.
I joyfully hopped on the seat and pedalled a bit, thrilled to be on a bike in January. Reed and I made plans to meet some others at the Cady Hill parking lot and set off. The bike rode well, my confidence level was high, and I thought, “this isn’t much different from mountain biking”. I proceeded to turn up the slick drive and immediately wiped out. HARD. Turns out, it’s different than mountain biking.
Blushing scarlet, I picked myself up and prayed that no one witnessed my asphalt attack. A friendly fat biker appraised me and offered up his bike chains. Bike Chains? What is this sport!? I groaned embarrassedly and declined. Instead, I followed my less clumsy husband up the trailhead and into Cady Hill. “It can only get better”, I mused.
And it did. The day was gorgeous; the woods gleamed. I warmed myself up on the uphill, and went slowly on the steeper, icy-looking patches of trail. I was surrounded by fellow fat bikers with all levels of experience, out to enjoy the quiet, exhilarating ride. I ran into a friend of mine from Killington who motivated me to keep climbing. We arrived at a bonfire at the green chair overlook to many happy people laughing, sipping rejuvenating beverages, and discussing their routes. Everyone was loving it. After a sip myself, my knee hurt a bit Iess and I started to see why people love fat biking. Sure, there’s constant danger and more treacherous terrain, but it’s invigorating and makes you a better rider.
I was convinced to keep trekking and followed Reed and some friends over to Flo, Cady Hill’s signature descent, which was SO fun. After some much needed advice to keep my balance at all times and spin rather than sink, I started to get the hang of it. I had such a blast on the downhill, I didn’t even mind the climb back out. Everyone I met had a grin on their face. How could I have a bad time?
We returned our bikes a bit regrettingly and headed over to the outdoor bar to redeem our drink tickets for some tasty beers from Trapp Brewing. Two Dunkels, and Reed and I were feeling our toes again. We headed into Sushi Yoshi for a delicious lunch of chinese delicacies such as fried rice, edamame, lo mein and miso soup.
The line grew as riders returned from their excursions. The air was ripe with tales of one another’s adventures through the snowy Stowe trails. Over my brew, I reflected on hubris, bike chains, and trying new things and realized that Fat Biking is a pretty amazing way to spend a Vermont winter’s day. See you on the trails again soon!