The sound of crunching snow under bicycle tires rang across Tin Can Hill a week ago as the Yellowknife Mountain Bike Club held its first fat bike race of the season.
Bolstered by nerves and the spirit of friendly competition, 10 Yellowknifers zipped along the recreational trails to race for victory and Barren Ground Coffee prizes.
Gonzalo Espinosa is the president of the mountain bike club, which hosts weekly group rides for people to join.
He told Cabin Radio the club is looking to make the race an annual tradition, allowing avid bikers to enjoy the outdoors while encouraging others to take up the sport.
“It’s a fun activity for everybody to do,” Espinosa said. “You just need to go and try it, and you start at your own level.”
Many of the participants on December 26 were first-time racers and new fat bike converts themselves.
Kajsa Heyes is a new fat bike enthusiast who took to the trail. She purchased her fat bike from Overlander Sports in Yellowknife this year and has been using it to commute to the hospital, where she works.
“There’s a group of doctors and medical professionals who bike to the hospital every day, so it’s actually a pretty nice social event on your commute to work for seven or eight o’clock in the morning,” she said.
“And it’s such a nice way to enjoy the outdoors when it’s really cold. It actually is surprisingly warm and keeps you nice and toasty.”
Andrew Tremblay, another participant, has been fat biking for a couple of years using a bike borrowed from a friend.
Saturday marked his first race.
“I’m a little nervous,” he said with a laugh. “There’s a lot of competition here.”
When asked why he’s drawn to the hobby, Tremblay rattled off a host of reasons.
“I have a lot of old knee injuries and stuff, so I find it just it’s the best for all my old injuries, for my knees,” he said. “It keeps me active and it’s a good mental health check, especially in the winter.”
Damian Panayi raced on Saturday with one goal – to challenge his 20-year-old son, Jack.
“My competition was trying to keep up with my side and he missed lapping me by a few hundred metres,” Panayi said with a chuckle, taking familial defeat in stride.
For Panayi, the fat bike mixes business and pleasure.
“It’s like an ATV with pedals – it just it does everything,” he said.
As for president Espinosa, he has been fat biking for about five years. For him, it’s about taking in the scenery and finding tranquillity in the cold.
“The peace – it’s quiet, too,” he said. “I just love it.”