Cycling for fitness? Utah embraces a fatter approach
New trend for fat biking has serious weight behind it
Just a couple of years ago, it was a fringe novelty: a niche pastime few paid attention to, even fewer took seriously. But in 2016, the craze for ‘fat biking’ looks set to seriously take off – with Utah as its launch pad.
The sport – off road cycling with oversized, under-inflated tyres – means riders can comfortably handle softer, more unstable terrain like sand, mud and, crucially, snow. As a result, fat biking has emerged as one of the fastest growing winter sports in North America, with enthusiasts taking to the hills in their thousands to embrace its combination of high country mountain biking and cross country skiing.
On 27 February, America’s Fat Bike National Championships will return for a second year to Powder Mountain Resort, near Ogden in northern Utah. Here, amateurs, pros and open class riders will compete on courses of up to 18 miles, battling through the resort’s internationally renowned powder for the US title.
Boasting ‘The Greatest Snow on Earth’, Utah is fast becoming a magnet for quirky winter sports – and the Fat Biking Championships are not the only national competition taking place in Ogden at the end of this month. From 26-28 February, Powder Mountain and neighbouring resort Snowbasin will also host the fiercely competitive US National Snowshoe Championships.
Becky Johnson, Global Specialist at Utah Office of Tourism comments: “While all eyes have been on Park City and the opening of the world’s largest ski resort there this winter, Utah is also home to 13 other exceptional ski resorts – many of which are home to some surprising winter sports. The rise of fat biking in particular has been extraordinary, and a number of operators in the state now offer these bikes to rent commercially. It’s a brilliant way to get out into the beautiful back country here, and experience some of the incredible winter scenery first hand.”
Alternative Snow Sports in Utah: It’s not just about skiing and snowboarding across Utah’s 14 world class winter sports resorts. If you fancy trying something a little different, here is a selection of the best snowbound alternatives in the state:
Snow shoeing: As with fat biking, snow shoeing is rapidly becoming popular across North America. An excellent cardiovascular workout, it’s also one of the easiest ways to find and enjoy winter’s Holy Grail: deep, untouched powder. Where to try it: Snowbasin.
Ski jumping: With a new Eddie the Eagle film due in UK cinemas at the end of March, you can live the ski jumping dream yourself at Utah’s Olympic Park, near Park City. Over a day, intermediate skiers can work up to a 10 metre jump. Or if you have more time to train (and a lower pain threshold), you can go as high as 40 metres. Where to try it: Utah Olympic Park, Park City.
Snowmobile safari: Summit Meadows Adventures, based on a 7,000 acre ranch near Deer Valley Resort, has a fleet of 35 state of the art snowmobiles, which visitors can ride across vast snow fields, slicing and bouncing through cloud-like powder drifts at speeds of over 65mph. Where to try it: Deer Valley
Olympic bobsled: Visitors can channel their own Cool Runnings vibe by paying $175 to ride Utah’s Olympic bobsled. The four-man ‘Winter Comet’ is driven by a professional, but the other three seats are all up for grabs. Expect an unforgettable, adrenaline-drenched experience on the 2002 Olympic track as you shoot around 15 curves at speeds of up to 70mph. Reservations are required and riders must be 16 plus. Where to try it: Utah Olympic Park, Park City.
Get an adrenaline rush in Utah this winter:
Ski Independence (01312 438 097 / www.ski-i.com) offers nine nights in Utah from £1,495 per person. Valid for travel on 14 March 2016, the price is based on two adults sharing and includes flights from London Heathrow to Salt Lake City, car hire, four nights at the Park City Peaks Hotel and three nights at the Hampton Inns & Suites in Ogden. All accommodation is room only.
For more on snow sports in Utah, or to plan a visit to the state, go to www.visitutah.com/things-to-do/skiing-snowsports.
Photo Credit: Fat biking image (far left on banner) – please credit PB Creative Photo/USA Cycling.