Cycling is one of the few sports or activities that everyone in the family enjoys. Dave is an avid cyclist and, in the past year, I have grown to love it. Robert has always been strong on his bike and my youngest, while he rides for fun, is quite competent. So riding fat tire bikes during our recent holiday in Quebec was something that we all wanted to do.
A fat tire bike is exactly as it sounds; it has thicker tires with a width of about 4 inches. Dave and I rode regular fat tire bikes, which were about 30 pounds each, and the boys rode the heavier 45 pound e-bikes, which have a motor to assist the rider. The tire pressure in both types is only 2 to 10 pounds, low because the softer pressure helps the bike roll along the snow whereas a higher pressure damages the trails. We decided on renting two fat tires bikes and two e-bikes as we didn’t know what to expect in terms of hills and terrain. Since each boy matches one of us in terms of height, having the e-bikes meant that we could switch bikes if the fat tire rider wanted a bit of a break.
E-bikes have 4 different settings – eco, tour, e-mountain and turbo – which match the rider’s strength from 1.5 to 4 times the power. This meant that the boys could handle almost anything on their ride. The only things they had to worry about were snow and ice.
The temperature was hovering around 0C (32F) when we started our ride so I was fine wearing my winter running gear – but I still wore wool socks and boots. The warmer weather also meant that the snow was fairly mushy so there was a lot of tire grip. However, as we rode further into the trails, there was more and more ice, which made for some technical cycling. My youngest fell at a narrow turn and that was the end of his ride; hurt and deflated, he wanted to go back. So the two of us rode back to the rental shop while Dave and my oldest rode out the rest of their time.
Despite the mishap, riding the fat tire bikes was a lot of fun and I would do it again – but not with kids. When you’re riding in the winter, you really need to be with experienced cyclists; my son simply did not have the skills needed to manoeuvre tight turns in the snow. But hearing the snow crunch as I rode over it and feeling the fresh, cool air push into my face made the ride both powerful and magical. Being able to share that time with my boys made it that much better.