Everything this time of year should be magical, but we tend to get caught up in the pressures of trying to find the perfect gift, engaging in baking frenzies, over schedule ourselves with parties and children's holiday concerts, traveling, and the stress of everyday life doesn't pause for the cause.
I don't know about you, but the older I get, the less patience I have for waiting until Spring and fair weather to ride my bike and escape life while I'm on the road. In fact, winter makes me downright itchy with disgust because I feel like I'm putting my life on hold. I commend all of you who are able to seamlessly jump on a spin bike or treadmill to get your energy out and train for when we can ride on the road again.
An indoor gym rat I am not. Sigh. I do, however, quite enjoy the water massage table at Planet Fitness, so that counts right? One time I even met a friend there, we snuck mimosas in our water bottles, used the massage table, and tanned (I know it's bad for you but the vitamin D boost felt incredible) and as a mom of three boys, it felt like a day at the spa. Kidding aside, we are Sconnies, we are sort of built and bred to be outside so why not embrace it?
Bikes have come a long way and the inception of fat tire bikes is just one way we can still enjoy our sport in the winter months. I think the person who created these probably had my exact personality type in mind. If you're not moving outside, you're about as useless as a screen door on a submarine. So I decided to give it a go, and my life changed immediately.
I rented a Norco Bigfoot fat tire bike at Bicycle Doctor and when I first laid eyes on it I could see why it was named that. It was black and bright green and, well, excuse my french, but it just looked badass. Folks, these bikes are like a tank, the cool kid on the block that everyone wants to be, the Hummer in the form of a bike.
I was hoping for a snowy day but it was foggy and grey, a meh kind of day. I geared up with layers and my bike speaker and out the door I went with the beast. I decided to take the bike path behind the shop and was pleasantly surprised to find the path full of snow about a mile into my route the deeper in the woods I pedaled.
There was a little adjusting because let's face it, this is not a speed bike, it's more like the Godfather of bikes, this thing has earned it's right on the hierarchy of the family tree. Don't be fooled by the size though, I picked it up and was shocked at how light it actually was. Some of the Trek versions at Bicycle Doctor featured a carbon fiber fork so it was even lighter (about 10-pounds less than the one I took out for a test ride).
I covered a lot of ground but in a different way, my muscles felt like I was making every mile count and maybe it's because I'm indulging too much with Christmas cookies, but it felt like an incredibly GREAT workout for someone who considers herself in shape. I was really sore for the next couple of days (but a good sore, an accomplished sore).
Even though it felt like I was going slower, the miles I covered were not mindless, I was using my muscles and mind during every turn of the pedal. It felt awesomely different, and it should! After all, it's not the same season or bike, and being complacent with your route or bike is never a good thing. It was a welcome challenge I was not expecting. Also, in general, there is a different kind of feeling you get after working out in the winter that you can't touch in the summer.
There is something about the cold air, it invigorates, it's surprisingly refreshing and I am left feeling great, and even euphoric. While it's true you're not necessarily burning more calories in the winter unless you're actually shivering, it can feel just as good, if not better than a summer workout. Your body does use a considerable amount of energy to warm and humidify the air you breathe when you exercise in the cold.
Furthermore, If you are wearing a lot of winter gear and layering up, you will burn a few more calories to carry the extra weight of layers of clothes. If you are heading out in the winter it is important to carry extra water and food sources and also tell the ones you love about your planned route before heading out, just in case you run into issues such as a slip on the ice or a flat tire.
I can see these bikes being a great training tool, especially for those like myself who committed to a spring sporting event and want to be outdoors as much as possible to train, but I can also see a group of friends taking these out for a fun day on the trails or in the woods going a little rouge with their CamelBaks filled with hot cocoa and baileys.
For outdoor enthusiasts like me, owning or renting a bike like this on a regular basis would get me through the winter months on a high note. Unfortunately, my phone died mid-ride so I missed an opportunity to get photos off-roading but it actually gifted me a rare opportunity to completely unplug from life and slow down a little. Safety reasons aside, I encourage everyone to stop and just be present on your bike this season. Even though I wasn't expecting to be without music or the ability to track my miles or speed, the experience of feeling how the bike handled and my body's ability to go with the flow and adapt was a welcome reprieve this busy time of year.
I felt exhilarated and ready to conquer the world when I got off.
In short, being on a fat tire bike felt like I was a kid again!
It was a total joy and I think I had a frozen smile on my face the whole time. I could totally see someone getting this bike under the tree, squealing like a kid and not wanting to wait to test it out, and guess what? We're adults, we don't have to wait!
If you've ever gotten a bike for Christmas you know the feeling I'm talking about, only this bike could eat that bike for breakfast and spit out the training wheels. I would gladly make our bank account skinny to get a fat bike, but until the day comes when I can buy one, I will happily rent one at The Bicycle Doctor. Seriously, try it, I promise you will not be disappointed. Merry Christmas ya filthy animals. Ride on!