- Associated Press - Saturday, February 14, 2015

WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis. (AP) - No matter how cold it gets in Wisconsin, you are sure to find some people grilling out and wearing shorts outside.

And for some, not even subzero temperatures and snow will keep them from riding a bike.

Fat tire bikes - bikes with 4- to 5-inch wide tires - are gaining in popularity, said Barry Winters of Nekoosa. Winters, 45, is hooked on the bikes and has been riding almost daily for the past year, including during the winter months.

“A friend of mine had one that I tried and I really liked it, so of course, had to get one,” Winters, who also owns road and mountain bikes, told Daily Tribune Media (https://wrtnews.co/1uJgcYZ ). “But since I got this (fat tire) bike, it’s about the only bike I’ve been riding.”

His other bikes aren’t the only things being neglected. An avid snowshoe and cross-country skier, fat tire biking is taking precedence for Winters’ free time.

“(Fat tire biking) took away a lot from my skiing, because this is so much fun,” said Winters, who works at Bring’s Cycling and Fitness.

Jenny Rockwood, who works in sales at Bring’s, refers to the trend as “fat bike fever.”

“They’re getting more and more popular,” she said.

The Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival, started in 1983, grew so big that participation numbers now have to be limited and the event uses a lottery-style entry system, according to its website.

Races also are popping up across the state. The Snow Bully Fat Bike Race was recently held at the Iola Winter Sports Club, and the Fat Bike Birkie is March 7 in Cable.

The bikes, which cost between $1,700 and $2,500 at Bring’s, were developed for the Iditarod in Alaska and for use in the snow, Winters said.

“You can go more places than you can on your regular 2-inch mountain bike,” he said.

Those places include Nepco Lake trails, where Winters likes to trek to after work. Treks can include just riding to and from work, like Winters’ co-worker, Ben Walters of Wisconsin Rapids, likes to do. Walters’ fat tire bike is his main mode of transportation, and with the right gear, which includes lights and boots, he makes the daily trek no matter the weather.

The wide tires and being out in the snow do garner some glances.

“These look like a motorcycle without a motor, really,” Winters said.

Walters agreed. The two men shared laughs as they took a short ride in a snowy lot next to the bike store.

“It’s pretty funny, people think they’re hard to pedal,” Walters said. “You just got to hop on and try them out.”

“We see people out there and they point and ask questions,” Winters said. “It’s a lot of fun.”


Information from: Daily Tribune Media, https://www.wisconsinrapidstribune.com

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