They are called fat bikes. Beefier frames and oversized tires make these special mountain bikes, pioneered in part in Minnesota, ideal for off-road winter conditions.
Fat bike riders will be out in force in Woodbury on Sunday, Jan. 27, for the Cold Catfish Cup—a 15-mile winter bike race organized by the city and Angry Catfish Bicycle and Coffee Bar. It will be held at Carver Lake Park.
Weather permitting, riders will begin the race with a lap around frozen Carver Lake before entering the single-track trail for a couple laps, said Reed Smidt, Woodbury recreation specialist and designer of the Carver Lake bike trail.
The Cold Catfish Cup started last year as a three-event race, but has since been consolidated into a single event.
“This year we decided to just have one day and make it bigger and better,” Smidt said.
The race is open to both fat bikes and traditional mountain bikes, but snow conditions on race day will determine which bike will be best suited for the course. (Many riders will bring both kinds of bikes.)
“If we have an inch or two of fresh snow, the fat bikes will have the advantage,” Smidt said. “But if we have hard-packed snow, the skinnier mountain bike tires will have the advantage.”
The benefit of fat bikes is their four-inch or larger tires.
“They make a huge difference,” said Smidt, a first-year fat bike rider himself. “That big tire offers a larger footprint to keep you above the snow so you can travel much easier.”
Angry Catfish Bicycle will provide a limited number of fat bikes for demonstrations at the event.
Smidt said he expects close to 100 riders will compete in the race, but he also encourages the public to come and watch.
“I think if we get a lot of people out here just enjoying themselves, in addition to the riders, that would be awesome,” he said.
Registration costs $12 in advance, and $15 on the day of the event. Check-in begins at 11 a.m., with the race starting at noon.
Riders can register online on the city’s website.