Take your bike for a spin in the snow - Fat Bike Style.

As the Triple D Winter Race get ready to roll this weekend in Dubuque, BIKEIOWA thought it only fitting to talk Fat Bikes and Fat Bike riders.

If you haven't seen a Fat Bike, yet, you must be livin' inside as of late Fall ridin' rollers all Winter long. The Fat Bike is the New Fixie. They are everywhere, but ya don't have to be a hipster to ride one. They are very practical in the Winter months, and they are a blast to ride all year round. Check out for your #1 resource on these pedal powered monster trucks...

We wanted to see what Matt Maxwell of Ames was up to. We know he has been a fat bike rider and Winter enthusiast for years.

Where ya from and how old are ya?

I'm 33 and originally from Cedar Rapids, but I've been in Ames for the past 16 years.

Who gives ya a paycheck?

I've worked at Skunk River Cycles in Ames since 2002 so that makes it 10 years.


As far as hobbies I compete in ultras and do a lot of reading. I used to do a lot of kayaking as well, but haven't had time for it lately. I started out biking 24 hour races in 2003 with the inaugural Seven Oaks 24 in Boone, got into endurance skiing because nobody else was doing it at Arrowhead, and just about two years ago I started running ultras.

You gotta train hard for those kinds of events don't ya?

My training regimen is pretty simple. I get out and do something strenuous for at least an hour five times a week. On weekends I like to get out and do a longer ride or run, three hours or more.

We don't like to use the word 'Epic' unless if fits...

As far as the epic stuff goes I've competed in the Arrowhead 135 every year since 2006, but I've only managed to finish three times, once in each category, bike, run, and ski. I'd like to think that I learn something from the experience every year, even when I don't finish, and that maybe I'm getting better at it. On the bike I've completed Dirty Kanza, a 200 mile gravel race in Kansas, once, ridden from Minnesota to Missouri on gravel in a day (245 miles), but in spite of two attempts I haven't finished the 300+ mile Trans-Iowa race. Maybe this year.

Fat Bike Feature

Below is a great spread about Matt and his year round cycling.

[Reprinted with permission from, author, Teresa Bjork of Iowa Farm Bureau Family Living]

With the right gear, a winter bike ride is a great way to exercise outdoors.

If you’re tired of staying cooped up inside this winter, and the thought of taking one more step on the treadmill doesn’t motivate, then consider taking your bike outside for a chilly spin.

You would be surprised how many Iowans continue to ride their bikes during the winter months, according to Iowa bike shops that cater to local bike enthusiasts year-round.

“Wintertime doesn’t mean that you have to hang your bike on the hook. It doesn’t mean you have to sit inside and watch football,” says Mark Stevenson, head mechanic at Europa Cycle and Ski in Cedar Falls. “You can get outside and do some fun stuff in Iowa.”

Stevenson says he rides his bike throughout the winter, even in frigid temperatures, as long as the roads are passable. He even biked to work during a slow-moving snowstorm on Christmas Eve that blanketed Cedar Falls with 10 inches of fluffy snow.

“If you use your head and wear the right stuff and equip your bike correctly, winter riding is no problem,” Stevenson says.

Matt Maxwell, a mechanic at Skunk River Cycles in Ames, also bikes to work each day, regardless of weather. He planned to compete in the Triple D long-distance winter bike race in Dubuque last month.

“There is something great about being outside when there is snow on the ground,” Maxwell says. While Maxwell sometimes takes to the bike trails in the winter, he says the trails can be tough to pedal on if they aren’t cleared of snow. Many Iowa bike trails are intentionally left snow-covered to accommodate cross-country skiers.

Maxwell recommends that recreational bikers stick to clear trails and roads in the winter. Many Iowa cyclists take their bikes out on nearby gravel roads for longer rides in the winter months, he says.

To ride in the winter, cyclists often equip their mountain or hybrid bicycles with metal-studded snow tires that can grip onto snow- or icecovered roads. Snow tires are costly, however, often running $60 to $100, compared to $20 to $30 for a standard bike tire, Maxwell says.

Before heading out for a winter bike ride, cyclists should invest in coldweather clothing to stay comfortable and protect against frostbite, Stevenson advises.

Winter cyclists typically wear three layers of clothing: a thin base layer of moisture-wicking fabric, such as polypropolene; a middle layer of wool; and a windproof or waterproof jacket as an outer layer.

Many cyclists also wear face masks to protect against the wind, as well as gloves and helmets, Maxwell says. “You want to start out just a little bit cold, and then as you get moving, you warm up pretty quick,” Maxwell says. “If you start out warm, then you’ll end up sweating, and that will make you cold in the long run.”

With the shorter daylight hours, it’s also good to invest in LED lights for the front and rear of the bike, as well as bright, reflective clothing to stand out from the winter landscape, Stevensonsays.

“People don’t expect to see a bicyclist this time of year. They just don’t... That’s why you want to alert people to your presence,” Stevenson says.

And while Iowa bike shops want to encourage cyclists to ride yearround, even the biking experts keep their wheels at home if the winter weather conditions are dangerous.

“Iowa is very conducive to cycling... in the winter months. And if the (weather) conditions aren’t horrendous, you can be outside all winter long and have a lot of fun. And I think that’s kind of news to some folks,” Stevenson says.



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