Fat bike slednecking: A sport is born. Photo: Ian Anderson
This photo popped up on my Facebook feed last week. It was taken by Ian Anderson, an outdoor industry public relations professional, accomplished outdoor athlete, and father of two kids (ages two and five). Ian lives in Carbondale, Colorado, with his wife, Sari Anderson, a professional endurance athlete who has won national championship titles in mountain biking and ski mountaineering and a world title in adventure racing. This may explain why their offspring are early adopters at almost every adventure sport known to man, including the one you see here: fat bike slednecking.
"I love to go sledding just about as much as my kids do, so there was really no question about what we were going to do when we woke up to over six inches of snow in Carbondale last Saturday," Ian says. "I got a Surly Pugsley fat bike last winter, and it’s really sure-footed on snowy, icy roads, so I figured we could ride to our local sledding hill—just over a mile away. I hooked up our Chariot Cheetah 2 bike trailer and threw two plastic sleds in the back. Then I remembered that one of the kids had gotten this ridiculous X Games 'snow bike' sled for Christmas a couple years ago and we had never tried it. So I got it down from the attic and tied it to the back of the Chariot."
"The whole train rolled surprisingly well on the snowy streets. The Chariot actually seems to add traction to the fat bike: The additional weight keeps the rear wheel from spinning on the ice and snow. I have tried towing the Chariot behind my fat bike on groomed snowmobile trails with mixed results. Even after swapping the wheels on the trailer for skis, the whole rig is pretty heavy and it gets bogged down in everything but the firmest snow pack. Roads and sidewalks are much easier. We also have a bike trailer that we tow behind an old cruiser bike. We put studded tires on the bike in the winter, and it's also really solid in snowy conditions. But nothing beats the four-inch wide tires of the fat bike."
"Fat biking is really taking off around here. There's a posse of guys that meets a couple nights each week in the winter to ride up our local ski hill, Sunlight Mountain. It's a tough, nearly 2,000-foot climb on my Surly, but when the snow is nice and firm, I can clean it to the top. There's a warming hut on the summit where we eat some food, put on a couple of extra layers, and then bomb back down on the ski trails. Some of the guys are hitting 40mph."
After the slednecking, the snowman. Photo: Ian Anderson
"The snow bike sled wasn't the fastest sliding apparatus on the hill that day, but with a steering wheel and brakes it was the envy of all the other kids. My two-year-old proudly called it his 'snowmobile.' Of course I got more than a workout dragging the damn thing back up the hill countless times. We use an old, down sleeping bag to keep the kids warm in the Chariot, and I often bring hot chocolate in a Klean Kanteen in case the kids start to get cranky. Sledding is hard work after all."