Experienced fatbikers and those new to the wide-wheeled bikes took turns Saturday riding through golf course sand traps during the third annual Fat Bike Festival at the Pronghorn Resort near Bend.
Fatbikes, with tires up to 5 inches wide, can be used year-round on some of the most difficult terrain around, including snowy and sandy trails. The bikes can clear obstacles other bicycles cannot.
“It’s one of those sports that makes you feel like a kid,” said Siobhan McNulty, an avid fatbiker who rode to the festival with other members of the cycling group Bend Area Cycling Enthusiasts.
Members of the group rode around the golf course, but saved their energy for a fatbike race Sunday near Mt. Bachelor and the Wanoga Sno-park.
“We prefer to ride in snow, but this is still so fun,” McNulty.
The Central Oregon Trail Alliance set up a tent at the festival for people to stop by and learn about where they can ride fatbikes in the region. The trail association worked with the U.S. Forest Service to allow fatbike trails in the forest at the Wanoga Sno-park.
Bruce Schroeder, chair of the trail alliance board, said he started fatbiking last winter on trails around Mt. Bachelor. Since then, he has been hooked.
“It was really fun climbing on things,” Schroeder said. “I was able to climb stuff on a fatbike I wouldn’t be able to on a regular bike.”
Riding a fatbike is similar to riding a mountain bike or road bike, but it is important to keep weight on the back tire to maintain traction and keep pedaling, Schroeder said.
“You have to peddle all the time on a fatbike,” he said.
Project Bike, a Bend bike shop, provided about a dozen fatbikes for people to try riding at the festival.
Adam Fancher, who works in sales for Project Bike, helped people get on the fatbikes and send them off to ride around the golf course. Some riders competed in a timed course, while others rode around for fun.
Fancher said the festival gives newcomers a chance to learn about fatbikes. He shared tips with people who might try fatbikes on the snow. For instance, it’s important to keep the tire pressure low on snow-covered trails, and it’s not always necessary to wear snow pants since riders might overheat.
“It’s a great opportunity to educate people before they go out into the snow,” he said.
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