Fat bikes have giant tires but average-sized pedals, I realized as I tried to get my snow boot in place. As soon as I got one on, the other would fall off. Between the snow pants and the heavy boots, I’ll admit I grunted with exertion trying to get foot on pedal.
Here’s a disclaimer, if you’re a fat biking enthusiast: I don’t ever plan to take up this sport, even if I move to a snowy place. But it was interesting to try once. Especially since that try didn’t result in any accidents.
Downtown Winnipeg BIZ offers a Moveable Feast tour of downtown Winnipeg. On an unseasonably warm 21-degree February day, a dozen of us mounted fat bikes and made our way through slushy streets in pursuit of a three-course lunch. It was amazing how fast I got hot wearing 100 pounds of parka and snow boot while cruising on flat ground.
Our first stop was Prairie 360, a revolving restaurant 28 floors up. I’ve been in several of these in various places around the world, but this concept never gets old. And in flat Winnipeg, we could see a lot. We got whole new perspectives on Winnipeg landmarks, like the half glass/half stone Canadian Museum of Human Rights and the Red River Mutual skating trail, where ice skaters glided far below. My tour guide had alerted our hosts ahead of time, and all three stops prepared me special vegan dishes. At Prairie 360, I had an excellent salad.
Our next stop: Carbone, who specialize in coal-fired pizzas and beer. There were a few lively tables, even in mid-afternoon. Vegans in Winnipeg can find good pizza here.
Our last stop was at Merchant Kitchen, the restaurant inside the Alt Hotel, which bills its fare as “elevated street food, globally influenced cocktails.” I felt very at home here, as this was my roost in Winnipeg for three nights. The Merchant Kitchen served us dark chocolate, non-dairy rice pudding. I think it had a little cardamom in it. The Alt is comfortable and cheerful, and I loved my room’s huge window with its downtown views.
Steering the bike through slushy snow was a bit hairy at times. It involved a lot of slipping, sliding and quickly putting a foot down to prevent toppling. But it was fun to try. One of the locals confided afterwards that the conditions had been horrible. Colder days are better, he said – drier and easier to navigate. Okay, maybe I’ll try it again someday. But I still don’t think I’ll be joining any fat bike clubs. I’ll leave that to the more daring cyclists.