Words: Kendall McCune
It’s hard to deny that for winter activities in Jackson Hole, skiing is king… but why does that mean we have to forget about our favorite summer activities? A few weeks ago, I discovered firsthand that my high pressure day dreams of being on my bike don’t have to remain that way. Meet: the fat bike (you may have heard it called a snow bike; but you can actually ride it during all four seasons!):
The bike looks burly, but I was surprised when I picked it up and realized its weight is less than many cross-country mountain bikes! The tires are made for stability and perform well on packed snow. These bikes can be enjoyed on a number of the same trails where people nordic ski and any road or path open to bikes during the winter season. Many of the local riders prefer riding some of the single-track trails of the Greater Snow King trail network. In my case, I rode out on a snowy road near Kelly in order to enjoy spectacular, sunny views of the Tetons.
My friendly, fat-biking enthusiast and guide, David Hunger, operates Teton Mountain Bike Tours (TMBT), a Grand Teton/Yellowstone National Park-permitted company specializing in both summer and winter group and private bike tours. In addition to guided tours, TMBT also rents fat bikes (in addition to a plethora of “summer” bikes geared towards the bike paths, mountain-biking trails, and the stunning road-riding that our valley has to offer), from their shop location on North Cache.
I won’t lie, I was a bit intimidated to try out fat-biking. Many of the aspects I feared: weight of the bike, having to manage slipping on snow/ice, freezing my tail off, and generally not being “cool” or “tough” enough to join the club; all diminished once I actually got on the bike and rode with David. I wore adequate outerwear and was surprised by how warm I did stay! After all, it is exercise; and we often ski just as fast in the same gear and manage to enjoy ourselves on the hill for entire days. David keeps his bikes in great shape and the ride was extremely smooth! The bike handled very well on the slick, snow-packed road, and I didn’t once feel as though I would take a tumble. If you don’t believe me, check out the tread on these tires!!
Having a guide was certainly a treat, as he not only instructed my riding, he also pointed out many fascinating geological features located in and around the Tetons, highlighted ski runs at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in the distance, and told me about the vivid history of the Jackson Hole area. Although I was his only guest that morning, he explained that it’s the perfect winter or summer activity for families, corporate groups, and any travelers looking to diversify, and certainly enhance, their Jackson Hole experience.
It turns out that mixing it up in the winter is good for the body and the soul! I had a blast fat-biking and I look forward to doing it again very soon! Well, when it stops snowing like crazy at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.
If you’re like me, and looking for a way to add variety to the day, or the season, give fat-biking a try! You will be happy you did, and maybe even discover a life-long sport. If you’re looking for a rental bike or a guided tour in the Tetons, try Teton Mountain Bike Tours. Ask for Dave, as his enthusiasm for biking is contagious and his knowledge of the area is impressive.