Fat Tire Biking
“It seems like it gains traction every year with more and more of the mainstream population,” said Josh Kowaleski, Sales Manager at Spokengear in Two Harbors. “Every day people come in and ask about them and wonder what they are for. As long as that keeps happening that lets me know that the mainstream is catching up to what these bikes can do.”
Spokengear sells and rents fat tire bikes. Two of the rentals are electric fat tire bikes. While the electric ones currently aren’t allowed on any trails, they can be used on roads and in suitable sections of the forest when the conditions are right.
Fat tire biking gives bike enthusiasts a chance to keep biking throughout the winter. The low pressure and large surface area almost make them like rolling skis. They do not, however, make winter mountain biking exactly like summer biking.
“It is totally a different pace,” said Josh. “If you go into it expecting it to be like fast single track biking you might get a little disappointed. You can go fast in the winter, but at least for me, it is more exploratory.”
As fat biking gets more popular, more state agencies and private organizations are making efforts to support this newer Nordic sport. For example, the Superior Cycling Association in Cook County first started grooming trails for fat biking last year. This is the first year they are really advertising this fact. Closer to Grand Superior Lodge, Split Rock State Park recently opened some trails for these bikes. There are also the trails near Two Harbors.
“Two Harbors owns the Ferguson Demonstration forest,” said Josh. “It is a really great loop of trails. They are not too technical and they are groomed with the groomer and you get a really nice firm base on a trail that meanders. So, it is a really nice place to go to.”
Spokengear has its own little loop that you can use if you want to test drive one of their bikes. They are located on part of the Two Harbors network of trails. This is a paved trail that is sometimes plowed in the winter. Still, having a fat bike will allow you to pass through slick spots easier. You can stop at different shops and restaurants along these trails and get out of the cold and grab a bite to eat. You can explore the sections down by the harbor or the neighborhoods visitors don’t often see.
Spokengear’s building is also home to Cedar Coffee Company, where you can rest, warm-up, and trade biking stories. They serve warm drinks, a number of baked goods, and meals. Naturally, bike enthusiasts hang out here a lot. One of them might tell you of some hidden spots that will amaze you.
Winter fat tire biking is usually best for trails, but there are exceptions. Occasionally the snow will become hard and icy enough to support the weight of the bikes. At this point, some may just bike through the woods and make their own trail. If you do this, of course, make sure you are on public land.
Fat tire biking is the new sport on the block in the Northland and is one you can try while you are staying at Grand Superior Lodge. It is just one more way you can explore all this frozen wonder.