Cycling experts say Alaska is quickly becoming the winter biking capital of the world, and the sport is no longer just for determined commuters.
Billy Koitzsch is trying to convince riders there’s nothing underground about the emergence of winter cycling.
“I had a grandfather and a grandson the other night renting and he's just like, ‘come on you’ve got to come see these’ and he's like, ‘Grandpa, can I rent one too?’ And I said I've got your size let's go!” said Koitzsch.
For $35 a day, Koitzsch's company, Arctic Cycles, will set you up with one of those fat tire snow bikes you may have seen around Alaska.
Some people still wonder, ‘who in the world wants to ride in the winter?’ That is until they try it for themselves.
We took one of Koitzsch’s bikes to the trails near Campbell Creek Science Center.
The only difference between a fat-tired winter bike and a regular bike is that the winterized bike feels heavier and requires a little more room to turn.
It's not a speed bike, that's for sure, but you can take your time and there's a lot to see along the trails.
We only slipped a few times thanks to the big balloon tires which allow riders to float through the snow.
The bikes work so well, in part, because manufacturers are listening to locals.
For example, the Mukluk, the latest innovation in winter biking built by Salsa, a Minnesota-based company, was designed and built with input from Alaskan riders for its design.
As a result, Salsa says the Mukluk handles exceptionally well on snow-covered frozen lakes and rivers, though some adventurers are now using it on sand in warmer parts of the world.
The Mukluk hit stores this past fall and has been selling fast.
“It's a blast to ride it and I'm really surprised to find how quickly some of the trails get packed down by some of the fat tire bikes out there now,” said Ray Clayton, who works at The Bicycle Shop.
Some cyclists even prefer riding in the winter. There's something uniquely satisfying about embracing winter with a bike ride.
But with the price tag for winterized bikes going up in to the thousands, casual riders will probably want to stick with rentals for now.
Contact Ted Land at firstname.lastname@example.org