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Fat bike riders brave rain and ice to cross the finish line

January 16, 2020   ·   0 Comments

Written By ALYSSA PARKHILL

Rainy, chilly and icy weather conditions don’t stop dedicated bike riders from keeping their wheels moving. 

The trails at the Albion Conservation Park were covered in ice, while rain refused to let up on Sunday (Jan. 12). But the race must go on. The Albion Fat Bike Festival is hosted by Ontario’s Premier Endurance Mountain Bike Event Company, Substance Projects. Now, you’re probably asking yourself exactly what I think you’re asking. What’s a fat bike?

“Fat biking is pretty much mountain biking but with wider tires. Traditionally they started off being a 26-inch rim with a 4.0-inch wide tire, which then varied in range down to 3.0-inch and up to 5.0 inch,” explains owner and CEO of Substance Projects, Dan Marshall. “In Southern Ontario and most of Canada, we tend to focus on riding in the snow, as it’s thought of as a winter bike or a snow bike, and in many parts of the world they use them as a beach bike.” 

Normally, you would think biking is a summer activity. Getting out on trails, side roads, any available path possible, to get in some exercise, but also to enjoy our natural environment. Fat biking allows biking activities to go on all year round. 

With thicker and wider tires, they provide more traction and grip to weathered conditions. Several riders mount their bikes with studded tires, which are spikes that bite firmly into icy roads and trails. 

“We’re now seeing subtle evolution in the technology, including a big thing, which is the studded tires. Generally, there is a good range of tires. By doing different kinds of studs, and different patterns of studs, you’re able to get a better grip in a wider range of conditions,” says Marshall.

Fat bikes came into the riding world roughly 10 years ago, but really gained popularity in the past five to seven years. It gives riders more experience and dedication to be able to continue training in the outdoors in chilly, wet, or icy weather. 

“It’s a great way for people to get outside and ride a bike out in nature, out in the environment, instead of on their trainer all winter long. In the winter, there’s a lot of days you can’t cross-country ski, or you can’t downhill ski, and you can’t really snowshoe, but if you’ve got a bike reasonably set up, you can still get outside and enjoy the natural environment, no matter what the weather,” says Marshall. 

The Albion Fat Bike Festival has gone on for the past five years, with Substance Projects running the past two. SuperFly Racing previously ran the festival but asked Substance Projects to step in because of their focus being on fat bike racing in the winter.

Marshall fell in love with mountain biking at a young age and through years of figuring out what he wanted to do with his life, that love for biking remained. 

“I’ve been racing mountain bikes since I was in  my teens. I tried a variety of different jobs but decided that I actually really enjoy riding bikes and organizing bike races, and doing course design. So I decided that’s what I’m going to do,” explains Marshall. “We started 10 years go and started running some bike races starting with mountain bike and endurance bike races, specifically. In the summer we run endurance mountain bike series, as well as a gravel race series, and about four years ago we started running a winter fat bike series as well.”

He added, “It’s evolving and changing as the fat bike market evolves and changes, and it’s a lot of fun and we’ve met some amazing people. They’re all a bucket of crazy, and we love them all.”

Approximately 75 riders participated in the Albion Fat Bike Festival, and every single one crossed the finish line with a smile on their face. The overall winner for the race was Nathan Silverthorn. 

The next race will be held in Parry Sound at the Georgian Nordic Outdoor Activity Centre on Feb 1. 

For more information, please visit Substance Projects social media pages on Facebook and Instagram, and the website substanceprojects.com that will be soon be active in the near future. 



         

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