Fresh Snow: Still Rolling

Fresh Snow, a column to share new fat biking experiences. New to some aspect of fat biking and want to share your tale? Write in to us at This week’s addition to the column is by Mat Cloak, a Canaan Valley writer and educator.

Still Rolling

By Mat Cloak

Progression through any intellectual, emotional, spiritual, or physical
endeavor reveals hidden recesses that would lie undiscovered if not for the
venturing into said experience. Aspects of the experience that never even danced
around the outer limits of your consciousness now present themselves openly.
Preconceived notions or first impressions are shattered, then start to morph into
entirely different beings. In moments where at first you felt love, derision now takes
its place.
You thought you knew. But you really didn’t.
During my first few experiences fat biking, my overall impressions
condensed to; like mountain biking, except colder, and I slide a lot more.
After three months of rolling, I’m still in the saddle but impressions changed.
One aspect that revealed itself after weeks of riding is the challenge of
keeping body temperature and sweating regulated. I tend to over-layer. Over
layering in certain areas, specifically my hands and feet, play to my advantage;
however, over-layering on my core kills me. I sweat through on long climbs and
then freeze on the following descents.
On most rides, I wear a bike cap under my helmet, a neck/face covering, two
layers on top followed by a down jacket, and two layers on the bottom. I double up
on socks and wear LL Bean leather hiking boots.
I’ve spent most of my riding time in Enchanted Forest, including other trails
off Canaan Loop Rd. where the elevation doesn’t rise or fall substantially, and the
Thomas trails. The Thomas trails have treated me well. Once those trails are
tracked in by a few fat bikes passes, it’s solid gold out there. The climbs are aerobic
and attainable; sliding through the switchbacks and berms are a dream.
Enchanted Forest and the surrounding trails are a ton of fun, but conditions
vary more so up there. Sometimes sticking to the road is a viable option. After
riding on Canaan Loop Rd. a few times, I’ve realized riding the road is a wild
endeavor on a fat bike. Comparatively, you don’t travel as fast, but the snow and ice
play tricks on your center of balance and can cause epic crashes.

With all that said, this weekend is big for West Virginia fat biking! I’m
relatively new to racing, and I’m brand new to fat biking racing. I’m ready for my
initiation: the Mountain State Fat Bike Champs are going down this Sunday at White
Grass. The fickle forecast predicts warm temperatures for Sunday, mid 40s, and the
snow will likely be superfluously slushy. Alas, there will be snow! Beer and
will be flowin’ and bacon will be fryin’ at the Springer Orchard Shelter compliments of Blackwater Bikes. Now on its third go-round, this race is sure to be a regular feature in the Mid-Atlantic Fat Bike Series.
The weekend starts rolling with a social ride on Saturday morning at 10:30
a.m. at the Thomas trails. There’s also a fundraiser for West Virginia Land Trusts
prospective purchase of the Yellow Creek Preserve at Stumptown on Saturday
starting at 5 p.m.

Get after it this weekend! Stay fat!