Ontario’s Best Fat Bike Events in 2024
Fat biking is the perfect cycling pursuit for those riders who cannot get enough of mountain biking in the summer months. But be warned, a fat bike feels entirely different than your typical mountain bike—and that’s not a bad thing for riding snowy trails. Fat bikers typically ride tires between 9 and 12 centimetres (up to 5 inches) in widths and tire pressures from three and nine PSI, for more float in soft snow. (For the same reason, fat bikes are also a good choice for summer riding on sand and other extremely soft surfaces.)
Fat bikes also work well in sloppy shoulder season conditions of mud, slush and ice, besides excelling in deep-freeze temperatures when the snow is hard and fast. More and more nordic ski centres and downhill ski resorts across Ontario have invested in grooming equipment to maintain winter fat bike trails, which means smooth, flowy riding on well-packed trails.
Many ski areas offer regular fat biking all winter long including Hardwood Hills, Mansfield Outdoor Centre and Horseshoe Resort near Barrie, Walden in Sudbury, Trowbridge Forest in Thunder Bay, Hiawatha Highlands and Crimson Ridge in Sault Ste. Marie, Georgian Nordic Outdoor Centre in Parry Sound, Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, and Albion Hills Conservation Area in Caledon. Fat bike rentals are available from cycling shops across the province if you want to give the sport a try.
It’s no surprise there’s also an emerging calendar of fat biking events for those who are competitive or want to ride with a group. Here are a few races to get you started.
Take on a 20- or 40-kilometre course on the incredible trails at Crimson Ridge. After you've left it all on the course, enjoy great food from Embers onthe Ridge and a beverage from Kingsville Brewery.
26-28 - Fat Viking Global Edition
Sudbury’s Walden Mountain Bike Club hosts a late-January fat biking event that’s inspired by a classic race in Geilo, Norway. You can register on Facebook and then, then anytime during the final weekend in January, challenge yourself to ride 50-, 100- or 150 kilometres. Don’t be afraid to take a break, the goal is to accumulate distance over the entire weekend. One key rule is that you must document your rides (using Strava or other GPS-based apps) and upload three photos for the Walden Mountain Bike Club Facebook page.
Enjoy night riding the trails at Hardwood Ski and Bike at this fun guided and self-guided event. Choose from guided rides of various lengths: 7 km, 8 km and 15 km. Food is also available for purchase.
Ready to try fat biking or take your skills to the next level? Come out to practice with peers for this two-hour workshop as part of the Dirt Series Fat Bike Clinic, near Sudbury. Register online and purchase a day pass for the Walden Cross-Country trails. You’ll also need to bring your own fat bike and helmet. (Rentals are available at Adventure365 In Sudbury.) Professionals will help you maneuver the bike in icy and snowy conditions. Come dressed ready to ride as the workshop begins with a warm up ride.
Join in the fun at the Mansfield Outdoor Centre. Choose from a 10- or 20-kilometre fat bike race or a Poker Run fun ride. After the race enjoy chili and hot chocolate by the bonfire.
24 - Wendigo Ultra
This hardcore ride had a glorious route through the Ottawa Valley, Lanark County and the Algonquin Rail Trail. The Wendigo Ultra offers distances of 50, 100 and a whopping 200 kilometres. This race is for the well-prepared and experienced fat biker. Each route has a mandatory checklist of gear including lights, insulated water systems and enough calories to keep you fueled for this epic ride. Checkpoints along the way do not have food or provisions. The finale takes place at the Whitewater Brewing. Cold beer tastes good at any temperature.
In Thunder Bay, fat bike lovers can choose from eight, 20 or 50 kilometres of trail fun at Sleeping Giant Loppet, organized by the local Black Sheep Mountain Bike Club. The course is a beautiful ride along Marie Louise Lake, including a tremendous climb for the 50-kilometre route. The very reasonable race fee includes lunch beside a campfire at the Sleeping Giant Provincial Park’s Visitors Centre.
9 - Beaver Freezer
Participants can run, bike or ski in the Beaver Freezer Marathon. The beautiful route on the outskirts of Sault Ste. Marie follows mostly frozen waterways, starting and ending at the Hiawatha Highlands. Distances range from the full marathon experience at 42 kilometres, to a half-marathon, as well as shorter 12- to 14- and five-kilometre courses. Relay options are available and the race is family-friendly. Each distance option includes aid stations—but be prepared for the elements if you’re going the distance!