Welcome to www.comprofessor.com a.k.a. Lynch Coaching: Media and Communication Prof's News and Views from Art Lynch. This blog exists to stimulate critical thinking, provide information on communication and media, stimulate discussion and share ideas. For additional media and other news see also sagactoronline.com. Thank you and tell your friends. - Art Lynch
Bike shop owner Kevin Breitenbach rides a fat bike in the White Mountains National Recreation Area in Alaska in March.
The plummeting mercury in Alaska this time of year doesn't keep
bikers inside. More and more of them are heading to recreational trails
and to the office on "fat bikes." They look like mountain bikes on
steroids, with tires wider than most people's arms.
Breitenbach runs the bike shop at Beaver Sports in Alaska's
second-largest city. He makes his way down a trail that winds through a
forest, and wet, quarter-sized snowflakes drop from the sky. Visibility
is low, and the snow hides the roughest spots on the trail.
His bike is Breitenbach's primary form of transportation. When he's not commuting to work, he's racing in ultra-distance events.
if we were out here on regular mountain bikes, you'd just be all over
the place. The bikes are set up to be stable, and so you can go much
slower and still maintain your balance," he says.
The wider tires on fat bikes roll over the
snow better than regular mountain bikes. The first fat bikes were made
by welding the rims of three mountain bikes together.
In the late 1980s, cyclists in Alaska were looking for a good way
to tackle snowy trails, so they welded three mountain bike rims
together. That allowed for fatter tires that almost float on top of the
snow. Today, fat biking isn't quite so "do it yourself."
market for a bike like this is still small, but it's the fastest-growing
segment of the cycling industry. At Goldstream Sports, just north of
the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, owner Joel Buth specializes in
cross-country skis and road bikes. But four years ago, he added fat
bikes to his winter inventory.
"The bikes are typically a
$3,000 sale, versus a ski package, which is much less. So there's more
customers in the ski, but the bike market is growing rapidly," he says.
$3,000 isn't just for the bike. It includes all the other gear as well,
like extra tire tubes, shoes and lots of winter clothing. It's the fat
bike clientele that surprises Buth most.
"Mostly what I see is
the backcountry enthusiast and older couples, too, that just want to get
out and get exercise in the winter and don't want to mess around with
skis, and they just like to bike," he says.
Back on the trail, Breitenbach says fat biking is more fun than skiing, even when temperatures hit 50 degrees below zero.