We don't believe in a "bike season."
Bike commuting simply becomes winter bike commuting and keeps people trim, warm, and smiling through these dreary short days.
Mountain bike season becomes fat bike season, though with so many people making fat bikes their year-round mountain and all-terrain adventure rigs, there's arguably no such thing as fat bike season, either.
Even for fair weather cyclists with no interest in braving the elements, there are still opportunities to sweat it on in the saddle through the winter.
Whether its old hat or a new trick, check out these 10 places and events where riding a bike in the winter is the thing to do:
1. Global Fat Bike Day
Fat bike demos, food, beer, races, and scavenger hunts. Global Fat Bike Day marks the beginning of Vermont's fat biking season. The event is designed to welcome both the curious novice and seasoned fat biker. Try out 2017 models on Catamount's groomed trail system, snack, chat with shops and other riders, and learn about the latest technology and design.
Global Fat Bike Day is on December 3rd at Catamount Outdoor Family Center in Williston. Check out Fellowship of the Wheel's calendar to learn more and then mark your calendar.
2. Vermont Goldsprints
The ultimate event for the fair weather cyclist with no interest in riding through the slush. A goldsprint is a 250 meter sprint. Vermont Goldsprints sets up stationary bikes in bars, breweries, and cafes around Burlington so friends can race against one another. The bikes are hooked up to a screen where an audience can see who is in the lead. The sprints last about 15 seconds. In between sprinting, riders sip on discounted beers, chat with friends, and enjoy the sensation of sweating mid-winter. Our favorite part? Vermont Goldsprints collects nominal entry fees from participants and uses those funds to set up goldsprints at youth and community events around Burlington.
Follow Vermont Goldsprint's Facebook page to catch announcements about upcoming events.
3. On Lake Champlain
We're crossing our fingers for a frozen lake this year because the awesome novelty of walking out into the middle of the lake is surpassed only by riding out into the middle of it. It's not that the flat, windy terrain is the best riding you'll ever do. It's that it's some of the weirdest riding you'll ever do.
If there's a layer of snow on the ice then a fat bike will do, but you'll want studded tires if you're planning to ride on bare ice. We recommend bringing some ice skates with you in case you find a particularly perfect surface. Anyone want to go to New York?
4. In Vermont State Parks
There is endless beauty and adventure to enjoy outdoors during Vermont's winters, and every year it becomes easier to access by fat bike. That's because Vermont Mountain Bike Association (VMBA) chapters, Vermont Association of Snow Travelers (VAST), and the U.S. Forest Service, collaborate and work creatively to make Vermont's incredible trail systems open to people on fat bikes.
The above photo is from a weekend ride around Groton State Forest staying at Seyon Lodge. Read about it in my blog post from January.
Check out VMBA's Winter Trails page, as well as the Vermont Dept. of Forests, Parks, & Recreation's pilot fat bike trail projects in state forests including Camel's Hump, Mt. Mansfield, and Groton State Forests.
5. Sunny Hollow Trails, Colchester
When people ask us about getting into mountain biking, we direct them to Sunny Hollow. The trailhead behind Costco in Colchester is accessible with a 10-20 minute bike ride from Burlington (no one likes driving to ride a bike) through scenic Gilbrook Reservoir in Winooski. Blueberry Loop is a great trail for people getting familiar with riding off pavement, while Middle Finger or Brooke Crossing provide twists and turns for pros to get silly.
Get more details about Sunny Hollow and trail conditions on Fellowship of the Wheel's TrailHub page.
6. Catamount Outdoor Family Center
We love the mission of the Catamount Outdoor Family Center. For years we co-facilitated a fat bike rental program there and last year Catamount decided to invest in a fleet of their own. A 15 minute drive from Burlington and $15 will get you on a fat bike and access to Catamount's groomed trail system.
7. Winterbike 2017 at Kingdom Trails
Winterbike is one of the biggest fat bike celebrations in the northeast held at arguably the best trail system in the northeast, Kingdom Trails. The event is technically one day, but tons of demos, local food and beverages, bon fires, and semi-competitive and non-competitive races, combined with the remote location in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom, makes Winterbike an appropriate centerpiece for a winter weekend getaway where fatbiking is the main course.
Mark your calendars: Winterbike 2017 is at Kingdom Trails on March 4th, 2017. Learn more and register here.
8. Ride 365
Burlington celebrates Ride 365 on the national Winter Bike to Work Day. Riders share coffee and pastries before riding across town together -- usually in single digit temperatures. It feels great to ride with good company who know the agony and the ecstasy of winter bike commuting.
Ride 365 happens in February or March. Follow Old Spokes Home on Facebook to stay tuned for the event announcement.
The Stowe Mountain Bike Club and Mountain Bike Vermont organize Uberwintern, a day of fat bike revelry on powder-packed single track for those souls brave enough to keep charging on two wheels through the depths of winter.
Ticket price includes lunch, drinks, groups rides, and demos galore. Rides and demos start out of the Sushi Yoshi parking lot in Stowe and go through the Cady Hill Forest trail system.
10. Anywhere but here.
I'm being hyperbolic. There are plenty of places that are just as frigid as Vermont. Regardless, if you're interested in doing some extended riding this winter, we recommend finding a place where death isn't a side effect of being outside for 20 minutes and figuring out a way to get yourself and your bike there.
If you're interested in doing a self-supported tour, our staff is here to help you. As I type, Dan is doing a custom used build with a sweet old Univega Alpina Tour frame for a woman flying to Patagonia and riding north for 5 months. Dan himself will be riding around Chile for the month of January. Three of our staff recently returned from bikepacking in Halifax. Last year I toured around the Lake Atitlan region of Guatemala for 10 days. Many of our staff have long term bikepacking and touring experience, so whether it's about locations or gear, feel free to stop by and pick our brains.
I should mention that we sell touring bikes (new and used), bikepacking and traditional touring gear, and we pack and ship bikes all the time. Keep us in mind as your prepare for your adventure.
We're currently building up loads of affordable winter commuting rigs (like this one), fat bikes (check out some of our 2017 models here), stocking up on winter riding gear (like this), and watching videos of other people riding bikes (like these). Stop by the shop if you're looking to ride this season. We're here to help you.