2016 Uberwintern Fatbike Festival - Recap

Jan 19, 2016 at 17:00
Jan 19, 2016
by Grant Wieler  
 
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2016 Uberwintern Fatbike Festival images
Mike Mansmann of East Burke Sports sets the pace on Florence.

Here's what's rad about fatbiking: even the people that take it super seriously don't take it that seriously. Ask anyone that attended Uberwintern on January 9, 2016, in Stowe, Vermont and they'll attest to the markedly non-competitive nature and generally laid back vibe of this eclectic clan. The spandex-clad, plastic bike crew seem to happily commingle with the Sorel-wearing, Grizzly Adams looking dude on the 40-pound bike. Kinda utopian.

2016 Uberwintern Fatbike Festival images

So many options, so little time.


2016 Uberwintern Fatbike Festival images
Jess from iRide was kind enough to set me up on this beast for the day.

2016 Uberwintern Fatbike Festival images

Groups happily gathered and splintered throughout the day.


2016 Uberwintern Fatbike Festival images

Four legged friends were also invited.


2016 marked year number four of what's become a new winter tradition in Stowe; thanks to the good peeps at MTBVT.com and the Stowe Mountain Bike Club, Ubwerintern has blossomed from a couple of dudes on bikes in the woods to a full blown party on wheels. All the usual bike-fest boxes are ticked but the ante gets upped when the mercury drops. For Ryan Thibault, mastermind of the event and the brains behind MTBVT.com, this event is a labor of love and it shows. Not only does this event raise funds that go directly to the local trails, but it also brings together people from all over the northeast in a very unconventional setting.

2016 Uberwintern Fatbike Festival images

The crackling fire was the centerpiece for riders gathering at the top of the Cady Hill network.


2016 Uberwintern Fatbike Festival images

Goodies were stashed all along the trail network, cause, you know, safety first.


2016 Uberwintern Fatbike Festival images
Brooke Scatchard of Sinuosity Flowing Trails was on hand to show off his newly patented ski attachment, look for big things coming out of this!

Anyway, I'm new to fatbiking and I've been sitting on the fatbike sidelines for the past few seasons, curmudgeonly proclaiming my mistrust for any winter activity that's not snowboarding. But I'll admit, I was intrigued and more than a little eager to dip my toes in that proverbial chilly water. When I rolled into the Sushi Yoshi, whose owner Nate Freund graciously offered up to host Uberwintern this year, there were vendors galore, more fat bike demos than anyone could possibly ride in a single day, and possibly best of all, custom brewed von Trapp Brewing lager awaiting all registered riders. Hell yes.

2016 Uberwintern Fatbike Festival images
Custom brews courtesy of Von Trapp Brewing.

2016 Uberwintern Fatbike Festival images

Groups depart Sushi Yoshi for the trails, amassing plenty of wide eyes and waves from inquisitive motorists on their way to Stowe Mountain Resort.


The trails were in perfect shape thanks to a dedicated crew of maniacs who (wait for it) dragged old tires packed with cinder blocks around the Cady Hill Forest trail network in order to ensure ideal conditions for Uberwintern 2016. Yeah, go back and read that again. The weather leading up to the event was less than ideal and we most certainly dodged a bullet; temps in the 60s up until about a week before had plagued the entire northeast, leading to a not-so-wintery vibe in town. But winter arrived in the nick of time, and disaster was averted.

2016 Uberwintern Fatbike Festival images

Follow the leader!


2016 Uberwintern Fatbike Festival images

No shortage of smiles for the first-time fat bikers.


When the group rides finally departed Sushi Yoshi around 10 a.m. there were literally too many groups to count. Throughout the day the groups fractured and reformed happily as people jumped among crews with differing levels of ambition—some opting for epic all day rides linking the various trail pods, others simply taking the chance to ride up Cady Hill for a toddy around the bonfire. Conditions were ripe for two wheel drifting and people were getting loose, throwing roost and embracing the general hooliganism that inevitably arises in such conditions.

2016 Uberwintern Fatbike Festival images

The Mansmanns came over from the Northeast Kingdom to demonstrate how to properly roll these fatties.


2016 Uberwintern Fatbike Festival images

Back at the ranch, the after party was killer with great food (thanks, Nate!), great beer (thanks, Trapps!) and of course, great people (thanks, everyone!). Whether you're a seasoned fat bike veteran, or just thinking about giving it a go, Uberwintern is not to me missed. I for one am a convert and you better believe I'll be first in line when registration opens next year...

2016 Uberwintern Fatbike Festival images

2016 Uberwintern Fatbike Festival images

Words: Evan Chismark
Photos: Grant Wieler

Stowe mountain biking trails

MENTIONS: @g11rant87 / @mtbvt

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