The popularity of FatBikes has ballooned much like the four-inch tires that make them the monster trucks of the cycling world.
Those roll-over-anything mountain bikes called out to Gary Lake’s inner kid three years ago, and the Twin Lakes resident launched the team SnowBike Enduro in 2011, to share the fun with the group of fellow riders who like to play in the snow.
That single race spawned a seven-race Wisconsin Fat-Bike Series.
Lake is hosting race #2 on Saturday on the trails set up on the Lake Geneva Canopy Tours property off County Hwy. H. Close to 33 teams are expected to race for three hours in relay fashion over a two-mile course.
“I got snow coming right on cue,” Lake said Thursday morning. “It’s going to be crazy good.”
Lake has been into bicycles since the days he spent all his lawn-mowing money to outfit his fleet of Schwinns. He was an early adapter to the FatBike craze, and has enthusiastically watch the sport grow from its origins in Alaska.
“It is the hottest niche market in cycling,” said Lake, who launched Fat-Bike.com to make his passion his business. “It’s the bike that everybody wants to buy, or at least try.
“It really is a smile-inducing bike.”
Surly's Pugsley was one of the first FatBikes offered to the general public, and Salsa quickly followed with its Mukluk and Moonlander bikes. Schlick Cycles, based in Milwaukee, has added a belt-drive option to the growing market.
Much like cyclocross, FatBike or SnowBike events play to the irreverent side of cyclists. It’s as much a day of play as racing, and builds off child-like enthusiasm for fun and adult enthusiasm for beer.
Dave Schlabowske captured it beautifully in this post from the Mustache Beach Ride on the shore of Lake Michigan in December.
Lake views the beaches in Wisconsin as prime FatBike territory, providing a whole new area for two-wheeled exploration.
Kate Shorthall, Katy Steudel and Rhienna Jensen show off the Team Snow-Bike enduro championship belt in 2011.
Photo by Marty Larsen.