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20/40/60: Fat Biking.

Three generations; one new outdoor activity.

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Thanks to an amazing invention called Google Analytics, we here at the Source Weekly know our audience goes way beyond millennials. Our readers are moms, dads, grandparents, teens and youth, in addition to young adults.

So when we had the idea to try out some of Central Oregon's abundant outdoor activities for the first time (both for fun and to show our readers that most activities are more accessible than they might have thought), we knew we couldn't bring the deets from the perspective of just one demographic. Instead, we had to go broad.

From here on out, look for this monthly feature, titled "20/40/60" in honor of the three age groups checking out the C.O.'s many options for outdoor fun.

Fat Biking

It was several days post-snow when we loaded up our trucks with the fat bikes that Seth Gehman, a fat bike guide for Cog Wild tours of Bend, had secured for us. Surely the trail from Skyliners to Tumalo Falls would be cleared enough for us to try out this activity that seemed to be taking the biking world by snow-storm, we thought. And with the hookup of some nearly-new fat bikes for the ride, we were all set. Here are our impressions.

Wyatt Gaines, 20-something

I am a person who really loves bicycles. I commute as often as possible during the spring/summer season and am addicted to my trail bike. My impression of fat biking is that it's a great wintertime sport for cycling fanatics, but comes with a fickle success rate based on learning curve and conditions. The challenge is, a fat biking novice wants hard-packed snow to stay buoyant on. This means you need lots of people out there using the same trail or perhaps grooming it specifically for fat biking. That being said, a fat bike would for sure be my first choice for a winter commuter bike if I lived in say, Minnesota, or if every winter was like the one we are enduring right now. Until I find myself in the great white north, I'll pass on purchasing.

Still, I think anyone who loves their trail bike should give it a shot—but watch those conditions closely. Do not ride in powder. Find just the right trail. Consult with a bike shop before heading out and getting burned on a mushy trail that leaves your tail sinking in. It's definitely a blast to take bikes where they shouldn't go.

Stoke Factor: 6

Difficulty Factor: 8

Nicole Vulcan, almost 40-something

Like Wyatt, I, too, love all bikey things. Even after my childhood bike, a pink and grey 10-speed Huffy (kids of the 80s, you probably had this bike, too) was destroyed in an unfortunate accident pitting me vs. car, I still loved cycling. If you had asked me before this ride about my stoke level at getting out on a bike right now, even in deep winter, I would have said a 10.

Still, Old Man Winter is a cantankerous bastard. He melts the snow ever so slightly when you're trying to ride into Tumalo Falls (a mere 2.5-mile ride) until your sorry, nearing-40 body gives up its will to continue struggling toward the destination. Then he freezes that deep snow again, once again ever so slightly, so that the whole way back you're no longer skidding or falling into snowdrifts and have greatly improved your attitude. With that massive fork and stubby tires, it's not the bike's fault, so it's gotta be winter's fault. Were we not in the aftermath of the Snowpocalypse, fat biking would have been my jam. It still might be; but for now, it will be on a more groomed trail, where I can truly enjoy the gorgeous winter scenery that I can reach out and touch. Or fall into.

Stoke Factor: 5

Difficulty Factor: 7

Brian Jennings, 60-something

Having enjoyed mountain biking on several of the trails in the Bend area, I was looking forward to my first adventure on a fat bike.  As an avid hiker, I've seen them on the trails but had never ridden one. My first take on the bike was—wow—it's lighter than I thought!  I expected a heavy bike, but it was light, stable and comfortable.  I want one. 

Now, about the ride. We began our trek heading for Tumalo Falls on roads with hard-packed snow. That was a breeze. I could shift gears and move as I wanted.    

As soon as we hit the actual trail, it became much more difficult.  If you didn't stay in a very narrow, hard-packed track, it became impossible to negotiate for this aging, former athlete.  As soon as you hit soft shoulder snow, it was impossible for this 60-something.   

I threw in the towel at the one-mile mark.  My colleagues later told me I was the smart one to return early to a warm truck where I took a nap awaiting their return. Common sense does come with aging! Give me a summer trail. I want a fat bike!

Stoke Factor: 6 

Difficulty Factor: 10

Can't get enough of fat biking tales? Read tour guide Seth's blog for more info about fat biking in Central Oregon.

Cog Wild

255 SW Century Dr., Suite 201, Bend

(541) 385-7002

cogwild.com

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