Fat-bike this winter.
Trying new things can be hard, and I'm guilty of new-thing-trying apprehension all the time, most recently concerning smartphones—I was a late convert and often wish I could switch back. I'm the same way about my outdoor pursuits, holding on to what I know until faced with undeniable evidence that change is necessary. My unwillingness to try fat-biking is the current case in point.
For a long time, biking was a spring, summer, and fall activity. Winter was for skiing, and skiing only. I occassionally rode to work on balmier winter days, but by and large, the bike went into the garage, and stayed there until May. But all that is changing, and here's why: biking is always a good time. Here are five reasons to get out on two wheels this winter.
1) In-Town Access. Bozeman has good access to the mountains, but the town itself isn't really in the mountains. They're nearby, sure, but most of us can't walk out our back door and be in the mountains, and none of us can skin to turns from home. We can, however, bike to trails from home, if we use a fat-bike. The wider tires provide great traction on snowy, icy roads, so you needn't worry about washing out. Once you're on the Main Street to the Mountains trail system, you can access great rides, either up snowy dirt roads or singletrack trails, without loading the car.
2) Storm-Drought Fun. Snow comes and goes, even in the mountains, and we're all too familiar with the January drought. When the flakes aren't flying, hop on a bike. The trails will be beaten down and perfect for riding, and you can maintain an active outdoor lifestyle, even if the ski conditions aren't great. The public land just a few miles from downtown is full of trails, many of which are great for biking. If you're on trails groomed for skiing, you're in the wrong place, so make sure you check the regulations before making plans.
3) Daily Dosage. Even the most diehard dawn patrollers and dirtbags have hard time making it out every day. But with a fat-bike, you can sample the goods Monday through Sunday, without burning out or sacrificing your social life. Whether you're commuting to work or planning an all-day ride, a fat-bike is the perfect tool to scratch your daily recreation itch. You'll save on gas, keep the legs Ridge-hiking fit, and keep your waistline trim.
4) Nighttime Novelty. Skiing at night, under a full moon or with the aid of high-powered LEDs, is fun, but hard to execute, and might happen once a winter. Nighttime biking, however, is an awesome way to explore Bozeman as never before. The longer you live here, the more creative you have to be when it comes to experiencing new things, plus this is a great excuse to get the crew together and vacate the bar for once.
5) Brewery Rides. Speaking of the bar, that reminds me of the breweries. We have a lot of them in town, as I'm sure you're well aware. Some of them happen to be right along some of the in-town trails, like Bozeman Brewing on the north side. When the conditions are good, ride out to Story Hills, use the road to lap some of the singletrack, then grab a pint and some BBQ. That's reason enough to sacrifice some ski time for some ride time.