What is Fat Biking?
Alps Accommodation caught up with Jamie Carr who is an International Mountain Leader & Mountain Bike Guide. Jamie and his partner Mary run Ride the Alps, a mountain bike holiday company based in the Giffre valley.
What are “fat bikes”?
Fat bikes are bikes with extra fat, knobbly tyres designed for riding on soft surfaces like sand and snow. They usually have a simple mountain bike design with little or no suspension. The super fat tyres distribute the rider’s mass across a larger area, so not to sink in and also gaining more traction than with a standard tyre size. You can ride easily and with stability over firm snow and ice.
Is fat biking a new sport?
No, the idea of riding bikes in extreme conditions, like snow & ice, began with the “Iditabike” race in 1987. Iditabike is a punishing winter endurance bike race across Alaska. I rode it in 1997 and was inspired by the concept – pushing the boundaries of what places are possible to explore by bike under extreme conditions. Back then people altered their existing mountain bikes themselves, welding two rims together to enable to fit a bigger tyre, usually 3 inches maximum. These days the technology has moved on significantly and modern fat bikes with custom frames and 4 or 5 inch tyres are easy to ride, bringing the Iditabike concept to everyone. If you can ride a bike, you can fat bike!
Why are you offering fat biking in the Giffre valley?
Fat biking is the latest winter sport to come to the Alps and the Giffre valley is the perfect place to do it. From the valley we can access a multitude of trails to suit all levels of rider. We can’t ride on the ski pistes but we can use the pisted hiking trails, and other snow shoe routes. The scenic riverside trails are ideal for novice riders. Higher up there are more extreme routes for the adventurous mountain biker. Furthermore, within a 30 minute drive (in our van) there are several other areas that are also perfect for exploring by fat bike.
Why do you love fat biking?
Because it’s so much fun! The big chunky tyres make you smile right from the off. I find myself laughing as I’m riding sometimes, amazed at what the bike can do in such extreme conditions. You can escape the crowds of the resort, explore remote valleys and have a proper adventure on two wheels in the midst of an alpine winter. It’s brilliant!
What is your favourite trail?
Well, having recently purchased the bikes we’re still exploring and my favourite trail changes from week to week but at the moment I love the descent off the Bourgeoise – a famous local beauty spot above Samoens. In the right conditions the bikes roll effortlessly down the steep, snow-coverage alpage against the backdrop of the Mont Blanc massif. The views are stunning the descent is thrilling.
If you’re keen to try Fat Biking this winter Jamie & Mary are offering half day guided rides for 50 euro per person. Bike hire & transport are included. Book your place in advance of your holiday by email email@example.com or once you are in resort by phone 0033(0)6 24 23 01 33.