Global Fat Bike Day (GFBD) started as a grassroots movement in 2012 when a couple of guys in the UK dreamed of getting all the like-minded fat bike enthusiasts together for a ride. The first Saturday in December was designated as the official day of this worldwide event. Since it’s obviously not possible for everyone to gather in one location, the idea was to use the power of social media to share local events globally through photos, videos, and stories. Keeping with this new tradition, here’s what happened in Carson City, Nevada.
We got a late start putting our Carson City GFBD event together, but knowing that fat biking has really grown in the area, decided it would be worthwhile to see what we could come up with on short notice. GFBD Celebrations can be as large or as small as you like. Some rides attract hundreds, while some people just go out and take a selfie while riding by themselves. The only real requirement for a legit GFBD is that you have FUN. To achieve this goal, we planned an event that was all-inclusive and family friendly. We didn’t turn away anyone with skinny tires, because an event like this is a good opportunity to let people try a fat bike for the first time and hopefully plant a few seeds for future riders. We picked the mostly flat but scenic Carson River trails to encourage participation. And as luck would have it, the Silver Saddle Ranch and Muscle Powered were even having an open house along our route to Mexican Dam. About the only deterrent was the frosty early morning temperature.
We met up at the Morgan Mill Road River Access Area at 09:00. Thankfully a full sun was out, and helped to take the edge off the freezing air. A couple guys drove down from Lake Tahoe to join us, and photographer Rick Gunn showed up to ride along and take photos for the city. After introductions were made and and group photos taken, we headed south along the river trail. Ducks swam along the river, and geese flew overhead as we enjoyed the views of the snowy Carson Range.
Soon we were in Riverview Park where the trails start to branch out in several directions. We used the opportunity for some play time along the muddy river and narrow trails through the trees. The subdued December light made for some nice photos.
As we made our way to the Mexican Ditch Trail, another rider joined us from a different trailhead. On our way to the Silver Saddle Ranch, we rode by many trailside spectators, including horses, cows, goats, and other curious creatures.
Soon we arrived at the Silver Saddle Ranch. It was starting to warm up a little now, but it was even warmer inside the ranch house where they had a full spread of snacks and hot apple cider waiting for visitors! A small fire burned out front for those who wanted to warm up outside. And a surprise to all of us, Santa Claus himself decided to pay a visit, arriving on the back of a tandem bike! After he made the rounds, we talked him into giving one of the fat bikes a test ride. He seemed to enjoy it, but I got the feeling he’s still more of a sleigh type of guy.
More mountain bikers showed up since arriving at the Silver Saddle Ranch, and they decided to join us for the ride out to Mexican Dam. As we made our way along the ranch trails, we came to an optional road that drops down near the river where water drains in from the Mexican Ditch. The big puddles on the road were iced over, and presented an irresistible challenge to some. I’ve been on enough of these rides, though, to know that the best place to be is on the other side waiting with a camera. The first rider through discovered too late that the ice was too thick to keep forward momentum. Also, it seemed that the fat tire wanted to climb up on the ice rather than break through it. Unfortunately this all occurred very early in the ice crossing, and the rider had to walk the rest of the way through the puddle. Thank goodness for waterproof boots! The rest of us steered clear for now.
We arrived at Mexican Dam to a full and pretty waterfall over the dam. It made a good spot to take a break, enjoy the scenery, and do some more socializing. After a lengthy stay, it was time to head back. But not before taking another crack at the ice puddles! Wanting a shot at redemption, the first rider hit the puddle hard this time, crashing through much of what he had broken the first go around. He made it this time! If you don’t count the part where he completely fell in the smaller puddle at the end… The second rider was too cautious, and ended up soaking his shoes and socks. Once again, I was glad to be on camera duty.
After making a quick stop at the Silver Saddle Ranch for a few more cookies, we retraced our route back to the Morgan Mill Road trailhead. I can’t think of a time when I didn’t have fun on a bike ride, but for some reason, this ride really stood out. There’s just something really fun and simple about riding fat bikes. Maybe it takes me back to being a kid when we’d just head out on the bike and not take life so seriously. My fat bike is definitely not the fastest bike I’ve ever owned, but its ability to keep going and roll over any type of terrain keeps the fun meter pegged. I’ve also never owned a bike that strikes up so much conversation wherever it goes. Taking all this into consideration, and multiplying it by the thousands of participants around the world sharing their Global Fat Bike Day experiences, it’s easy to see why it’s a growing event.