My Favorite Fatbike Accessories-Part One

Winter is here and to quote Guitar Ted, "White is the new dirt".  Cold weather brings on a whole different experience and there are a lot of fatbike accessories to make riding a little more comfortable and easier to carry the gear needed for those longer rides.  Below are some of my favorite items that I use regularly throughout the Winter.

Pogies and Heated Grips

Hands are usually the first to get cold and there are a couple of ways in addition to gloves to keep them warm.  Warm fingers are more dexterous for shifting and braking and using pogies (handlebar mitts) and/or heated handlebar grips do the trick nicely.  I have a pair of Stellar Bags pogies made by a local Twin Cities cyclist who no longer makes and sells them but there are plenty of others out there on the market.  Some of these include 45NRTH, Revelate Designs, Dogwood Designs, Bar Mitts and Gup Gum Gear.  Pogies do a great job of protecting your hands from the elements, especially the wind which can cool down hands fast and they let you ride wearing lighter gloves.

A'ME Ergo Tri Heated Mountain Bike Grips do a great job at keeping hands warm and toasty on very cold rides.  These grips feature bluPulse™ ‘Adaptive Thermal Regulation’ technology with six different temperature settings that can be selected by pushing a button.  They are powered by a rechargeable 11.1 volt Lithium-Ion Polymer Battery Pack that can be mounted to a frame tube or handlebar stem and have watertight connectors.  Battery life varies depending on the setting chosen, but I usually get about three hours using the lowest setting that keeps my hands comfortable.  For more information, read my full product review.  These grips in combination with gloves and a good set of pogies will keep hands warm for hours in bitter cold temperatures letting you ride longer and more comfortably.

Frame Bag

A frame bag allows me to carry gear, snacks and my tool kit for those times I want to travel light.  Access to bag contents can even be done while riding without having to stop.  I will sometimes stash my water bottle in the main compartment of the bag giving it a little protection from the cold so it doesn't freeze up as quickly.  A good bag should be made with fabrics that have a durable water-repellent finish to keep contents dry on rides in slushy or wet conditions.  Frame bags can be purchased for specific bike models, custom made for a perfect fit and some are universal fit.  I had mine custom made by a local cyclist (Gup Gum Gear) for my mountain bike but the triangle on my 9:Zero:7 was so similar that it fit perfectly. 


Pinned flats or clipless for Winter riding?  I will use both depending on the trail conditions.  Most of the time I like to clip in for the increased pedaling efficiency and power transfer but when conditions turn icy I switch to flats in case I need to put a foot down in a hurry.  The flats I use are actually a downhill mountain bike pedal by Xpedo, the Face Off 18.  I chose this pedal for its large platform with an open cage that doesn't build up with snow and ice.  They also have 20 replaceable pins on each pedal that helps me maintain a firm grip even when they become icy.  I'm currently using a set of Crank Brothers Candy 3's which I like for the easy in and out clipping over SPD pedals.  I am thinking of  switching to Crank Brothers Eggbeaters to eliminate the platform that the Candy pedals have to prevent ice and snow build up. 


I have two pairs of boots for Winter riding, Columbia Bugaboot Plus II Omni-Heat and my newest addition, the 45NRTH W√∂lvhammer.  I rode with flat pinned pedals all last Winter and the Bugaboots gripped the flats really good and the Omni-Grip outsole grabbed nicely on a variety of ice and snow covered surfaces. They are very lightweight and flexible making them a good choice for cycling.  The Bugaboots kept my feet warm on rides which usually lasted two to four hours.  During extreme cold where temperatures were sub-zero, my feet would start to get cold and toe numbness would set in.  To help extend ride time I would pair the Bugaboot with Grabber Toe Warmers and Foot Warmers.  For More information on the Columbia Bugaboot Plus II Omni-Heat, read my full product review.

The W√∂lvhammers, though a bit spendy are very well insulated, waterproof and breathable, three things I want in a Winter cycling boot.  When riding clipless, which is most of the time now, these are my go to boots.  I bought the next size up from what I normally wear to accommodate thicker wool socks for when it really gets cold.  These boots are new for me but I already love the comfort, feel and warmth they provide and would recommend them for cold weather fatbiking.

I will continue with more of my Faviorite Fatbike Accessories in two more upcoming posts.

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Get Phat With Pat Winter Fatbike Races Coming to the MN River Bottoms in January

Penn Cycle & Fitness will hold the Get Phat With Pat Fatbike Races for a third year at the Minnesota River Bottoms in Bloomington on January 17th and 24th.  They are co-sponsored by and are a part of the Bloomington Winter Fete which runs from January 17-25.

Flyer Link

The Details: 

Both races will be held at the Russell A Sorenson Landing at the end of Lyndale Ave. S. in Bloomington, MN underneath the 35W bridge.  Registration will start and 9 am the morning of each race and closes 30 minutes prior to race start. Registration will require a $10 entry fee and also a $5 donation to MORC (Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists) which will help the non-profit volunteer organization pay for trail maintenance, equipment and fund their 2015 season.

All bike styles, fat or skinny are welcome to participate.  There will be three race classes for each race day; Beginner, Recreational and Advanced.  The Beginner class race will start at 10:15 am and consist of one lap, the Recreational class race starts at 10:00 am and is also one lap, the Advanced class race starts at 12 noon and will be two laps.
Nine Mile Creek Crossing

The race course will be similar to last year's race with a few areas that will be different.  Start and Finish will be under the 35W bridge with the course heading west past the railroad swing bridge before returning.  There will be an ice crossing for Nine Mile Creek but if the ice is deemed unsafe due to warm weather, the cottonwood tree crossing will have to be used.  The lap will be a loop of about eight miles with one section of trail heading out and another heading back.

An agreement with the City of Bloomington will allow many temporary sections of trail for the races.  The race course will be groomed and ready to ride one week before the first race.


Prizes will be awarded to the top three male and female finishers in each category.  There will be plenty of swag given away to race participants at the conclusion of each day's races.  A Grand Prize Drawing for a 9:Zero:7 fatbike frame and fork will be held at the January 24th race for race participants*.  All prize winners must be present to claim their prizes.  *To be eligible for the Grand Prize you must race in both races.

Top 3 Advanced Class Women - 2014

Pat was recently on Mountain Bike Radio and talked with host Ben Welnak about the upcoming Get Phat With Pat races.  Click here to listen to that segment of the show. 

See all of my photos and some video from last year's Get Phat With Pat races on Flickr.
Race #1
Race #2 

Get Phat with Pat will not only be fun but the weather will also make it challenging.  Thanks to Pat Sorensen and Penn Cycle & Fitness for organizing these races and the City of Bloomington for allowing them to take place at the Minnesota River Bottoms.  I'll see you there.


Pat Sorensen Of Penn Cycle Interviewed On Inside Mountain Bike Radio


Penn Cycle President, Pat Sorensen recently went on the Inside Mountain Bike Radio Show on Mountain Bike Radio to talk with host Ben Welnak about some of the history of Penn Cycle, events Pat has coming up and the long-standing tradition of Thursday Night at the Races.

Inside Mountain Bike Radio-November 5, 2014
Pat Sorensen of Penn Cycle
Pat starts the interview with how his father Elmer got Penn Cycle going back in 1957 and details some of the history and growth of the business.

 Elmer at the Richfield store back in the early 1960's
Image Credit: Penn Cycle

Pat tells Ben about the upcoming Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists' 20th Anniversary Gala on November 9th, Penn Cycle's commitment by being the Title Sponsor and the great work that MORC does for mountain biking in Minnesota.  Tickets are available at bit.ly/morcGALA.

He then goes into how the Get Phat with Pat fatbike races got the name, the unique location where they are held (the Minnesota River Bottoms), some of the fun and prizes to be had and how these races help raise money for MORC.  Also discussed is the evolution of fatbikes in the last few years.  More information on the upcoming Get Phat with Pat races can be found here.

With the Cross For Tots race coming up on November 29th at Moir Park in Bloomington, Pat gives a little history on how this cyclocross race was started and how it will benefit Toys For Tots.

To wrap up the show Pat reflects on the 23 year history of Penn Cycle's Thursday Night at the Races at Buck Hill in Burnsville.  How the kids races started, the danger, mayhem and fun that comes along with the adults on kids bike races are also discussed.  Watch the video below to get a taste of what Thursday Night at the Races is all about.

A download link of this episode of Inside Mountain Bike Radio is also available here.

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Facebook Group Brings Minnesota Fatbikers Together for Group Rides

Last Saturday night I came up with an idea that would help bring those that love to ride fatbikes together for group rides of their own.  I figured creating a Facebook group would be the easiest way to get the word out to a lot of people in short amount of time because riding fatbikes is more fun when done with others.  Thus, the MN Fatbike Group Rides Facebook group was formed.  I posted it at around 11pm that night and by noon the next day there were over 100 members.  The group continues to grow and rides are being posted.  If you like riding with the well-endowed tire crowd then I invite you to become a member of the group and post rides of your own or join in on those posted by others.

 Group Description

I created this group to make it easy for my fatbike friends and their friends to get together by posting their own group rides.  Minnesota has a lot of fatbikers with riding schedules that may not include the weekends.  This is a place where they can organize their own rides with friends and new acquaintances any day of the week.  My work schedule keeps me from joining in on Saturday group rides but I'm available on Sundays and Mondays.  Others of you may have other availabilities, that's why I created this group.  Are you looking for some Tuesday afternoon ride partners at Murphy or Thursday night ride companions at Elm Creek?  This group is designed to get fatbikers together for rides that fit their schedules.  I miss out on so many fatbike group rides because of my work schedule that I wanted to create a Facebook group that was open to the public and would allow other members, not just those with weekends off to connect and ride together.  Invite your friends and let's ride fatbikes together this Winter.

Already there have been rides and pictures posted and activity in the group is bound to increase as more members join and snow begins to fall.  Although many members may be from the Twin Cities Metro Area, I encourage those in Greater Minnesota to join as well.  My goal for this Facebook group is to see group rides from all over the state being posted on a regular basis.  Become a group member today and tell your fatbike friends about the MN Fatbike Group Rides Facebook group.


Save the Minnesota River Bottoms: Sign the Petition

For those of us that use the Minnesota River Bottoms, whether it be for hiking, running, mountain biking or bird watching, this area has been a favorite of nature lovers during all seasons for many years because of its natural beauty.  I first introduced my son to mountain biking here years ago and it was a special place for us to go and ride together.  For over 20 years MORC members have helped maintain this natural surface trail that runs between the Bloomington Ferry Bridge and Indian Mounds School in Bloomington.

This area is prone to repeated flooding and the idea of millions of dollars being used to develop a paved or aggregate trail here seems like an expensive plan that will require a lot of  yearly maintenance costs and has been one that many people have opposed for years.  Many of us would like to see this area expanded, improved and preserved in its natural state as a natural surface multi-use trail open to hikers, runners, cyclists and nature lovers.  MORC has started a petition that will be presented to the MN DNR, Bloomington City Council and Representative Ann Lenczewski.  Please visit Change.org to let your voice be heard that you want to stop the plan to put a paved trail in the Minnesota River Valley between the Bloomington Ferry Bridge and the Old Cedar Avenue Bridge.

For updates on this important issue please visit the Save the River Bottoms Facebook pageJoin MORC today to help safeguard the future of mountain biking in Minnesota through the promotion of responsible riding, establishment and maintenance of mountain biking trails, and preservation of Minnesota's natural resources.


Product Review: Scosche boomBOTTLE

Scosche introduced the boomBOTTLE last year at Interbike and it caught my attention right away.  It's a rugged IPX4 Splashproof/Weatherproof Bluetooth connectivity speaker designed to fit in a water bottle cage or cupholder.  I liked the idea of the boomBOTTLE so much that I included it as one of the 20 products in my 4-part series of posts Interbike 2013 Cool Bike Gear.

Image Credit: Scosche Industries
First of all, let me go over some of the features of the boomBOTTLE.  As mentioned above, this speaker has IPX4 Splashproof/Weatherproof construction meaning it can withstand splashing water from any direction.  It's lightweight at less than 1 pound and has a shock absorbing non-slip exterior with dust and debris protective screens around the speakers.  Bluetooth connectivity gives it a wireless range of up to 33 feet and it has a 3.5mm auxiliary input for non-Bluetooth devices.  The dual 40mm drivers and passive subwoofer omni-directional speakers deliver sound 360°.  Control music playback with the multi-function button to pause, play and skip tracks.  Phone calls can be taken while riding using it as a speakerphone.  A long lasting Lithium polymer rechargeable battery provides up to 10 hours of use.

I enjoy listening to podcasts and music while I ride but the use of earbuds can interfere with me hearing approaching vehicles or passing cyclists.  The boomBOTTLE would be a safer alternative that would let me still hear the sounds around me while listening in on my favorite podcast.

I ride a lot of gravel roads so sand, dirt and mud do end up all over me and my bike on rainy days and wet conditions.  This I thought would be a good test of the boomBOTTLE's splashproof/weatherproof IPX4 rating.  Rides in the rain and on wet roads did not affect the performance of the boomBOTTLE and it continued to deliver a rich quality sound.  The slip-resistant outer coating and screens over the speakers protected it from the the water and debris flung at it from my wheels.

After these wet rides the boomBOTTLE was good and dirty and in need of a cleaning.  This was easy, I lightly rinsed it off under the faucet to remove all of the road muck it had picked up on the ride.  A quick wipe down with a dry towel and it was like new again.

The boomBOTTLE fit nice and snug in my water bottle cage and stayed put even on washboard gravel and bumpy "No Motorized Vehicles" doubletrack.  The battery life was exceptional giving me 10+ hours of playback on a single charge.  Using it 1 to 2 hours a day, a charge seemed to last the whole week.  When the battery status reached 25% a voice prompt stated "Battery Level 25%" letting me know it would soon need a recharge.  To protect the battery when the charge is too low it would beep three times, the power down tone would sound and it would shut down.  To conserve battery it would automatically shut down after 10 minutes when there was no longer a Bluetooth signal input.  Charging the battery does take some time, usually around 3 hours, but the long battery life definitely makes up for that.  The charging status LED let me know if it was charging (red) or had reached a full charge (blue) and was ready for use.

Pairing my phone with the boomBOTTLE for the first time was very easy and I was able to do so without reading the instructions.  Once paired, when turned on connection is almost immediate and a voice prompt will state "Power On" and "Connected".  The large buttons and placement of them made it easy to adjust the volume or pause and skip a track while riding.  When turning up the volume on the boomBOTTLE it would beep once when maximum volume was reached.  During windy conditions or when riding fast (16+ mph), maximum volume was needed to hear the audio over the wind noise and was sometimes hard to hear.  To overcome this, I recommend using a product like Wind-Blox to reduce the wind noise and give a better listening experience.  Don't get me wrong, the boomBottle is loud and has good bass with rich sound but wind noise across the ears can sometimes be even louder.  Another way to direct the sound from the omni-directional speakers to better hear the audio is to place the boomBOTTLE in a bottle cage on the down tube like pictured in the photo above.  This will better point the sound toward the rider than placement in a cage on the seat tube.

Integrated Music Controls (Multi-function button)

The multi-function button (MFB) located between the up/down volume buttons has many useful controls of the paired device.  A single tap of the MFB will play or pause an audio track, while a double tap will track forward and a triple tap will track backward.  To answer a phone call and use the boomBOTTLE as a speakerphone, tap the MFB once and do the same to hang up a call.  For phones that have voice control function, hold the MFB for two seconds and release and this will access the phone's voice control feature.  These integrated music controls work nicely when riding because they allow leaving the phone in a pocket and give the ability to control it with the touch of a button.

On the bike or around the house, this compact Bluetooth speaker delivers rich, clear and loud sound whether listening to music or spoken audio podcasts.  Using it is much safer than headphones or earbuds when riding my bike because I can still hear things around me like cars, pedestrians and other cyclists.  The battery life is great and the unit's construction is durable and water resistant for rides in any weather on the road or singletrack.  I would definitely recommend the boomBOTTLE to anyone that likes to listen to music or podcasts while riding their bike.  

The Scosche boomBOTTLE retails for $129.99 and is available in a variety of colors from Scosche, Amazon and many other online retailers.

*Note:  The Scosche boomBOTTLE was paired with a Samsung Galaxy S4 via Bluetooth the duration of testing for this review.

Disclosure:  Scosche Industries provided the review sample for this article, but offered no other form of compensation for this review.


Twin Cities Area Winter Fatbike Trails

Winter fatbiking is big in Minnesota and the Twin Cities have quite a few trail systems that are groomed or snowshoe stomped by volunteers to pack the trails for riding.  I have compiled a list of these trails open to winter mountain biking with links to maps, trail information, trail conditions and Facebook/Twitter pages if available.  Trails that have Facebook or Twitter pages will post trail openings and conditions or closures due to warm weather.  Low tire pressure, usually 10 psi or lower and tires 3.8 inches or wider are recommended for use on these trails in the Winter.  Skinny tires can be used when trails are firmly packed enough to not cause ruts or damage.

Credit: Carver Lake Park Off-Road Cycling Trail Facebook Page
Carver Lake Park  
Map     Trail Info     Facebook  

Carver Lake Park is host to the Cold Catfish Cup that takes place in January.  Watch the MORC Racing Forum for the 2015 race date and updates on the race.  Group ride information can be found on the MORC Group Rides Forum.

Elm Creek Park Reserve
Maple Grove
Map     Trail Info     Facebook

Elm Creek is home to the Fatbike Frozen 40 taking place on February 14, 2015 and three of the the six races in the Frozen Frolic Winter Mountain Bike Race Series.  The Frozen Frolic race dates are December 6th, January 10th and February 7th.  Group ride information can be found on the MORC Group Rides Forum.

Credit: Mistermoose.org
Hillside City Park* 
 Elk River

Hillside has a set of three races taking place in January and February called the Cold Bear Challenge Winter Racing Series that ends with FatBikeFest on the day of the third race.  This will be the 9th year of the Cold Bear Challenge.  Watch the MORC Racing Forum for 2015 race dates and updates on these races.  *Day Pass fee required.

Lebanon Hills Regional Park-West
Map     Trail Info     Facebook     Twitter

Check in with the Lebanon Hills Mountain Bike Trail Facebook page for trail openings and closures from Dakota County Parks due to weather.

Mendota Trail (MN River Bottoms)
Map     Trail Info

This multi-use trail has access points in Eagan at the Cedar Ave. bridge and in the town of Mendota.  It follows the Minnesota River through Fort Snelling State Park and access to the Minnesota River Bottoms on the North side of the river can be done by taking the pedestrian bridge on the Cedar Ave. bridge.

Minnesota River Bottoms
MORC Trail Conditions

The 3rd Annual Get Phat With Pat Winter fatbike races will be held at the Minnesota River Bottoms on January 17th and 24th.  These races will include new and challenging groomed trails through sections of the Minnesota River Bottoms you don't normally get to ride through.  There are several weekly group rides held here and more information can be found about them on the MORC Group Rides Forum.

Image Credit:  Deathrider
 Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve

Murphy-Hanrehan hosts three of the the six races in the Frozen Frolic Winter Mountain Bike Race Series.  The Frozen Frolic race dates are December 13th, January 24th and February 28th.  Group ride information can be found on the MORC Group Rides Forum.

Credit: Minneapolis Off-Road Cycling Advocates Facebook Page
Theodore Wirth Park
Map     Trail Info     Facebook     Twitter

The mountain bike trails at Theodore Wirth Park are monitored and maintained by MOCA volunteers.  Closures and trail conditions can be found on the MOCA website in the upper left-hand corner of the page and rider reports are listed on the Theodore Wirth MORC Trail Conditions Forum page.

Other informative Twin Cities mountain biking links can be found below and remember to always follow IMBA's Fat Bike Best Practices to maintain and gain more trail access and give our sport a good name.

MORC-Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists

Minneapolis Off-Road Cycling Advocates

For a complete listing of this Winter's fatbike events, see my post Winter '14-'15 Minnesota Fatbike Events.

Bookmark this post for quick reference. 

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