Fat Biking With Lola at Tahoe Donner

Lola fat biking
Lola loves fat biking!

I’ve always wanted to take Lola on a fat biking adventure. I finally got my chance last week thanks to both our incredible snow season in the Sierra and Tahoe Donner Cross Country with its fat bike AND dog-friendly trail policies. We rented bikes right from the resort, but given how much fun Lola had, I can already see n+1 come into effect sooner rather than later.

Easily one of the best cross country ski areas in North America, Tahoe Donner Cross Country sits just north of downtown Truckee for quick and easy access off Highway 80. Here you will find 100 km of immaculately groomed trails, a large percentage of which are open to fat biking when the conditions are right, including 7 km of dog-friendly trails. The vast trail system meanders through beautiful meadows and forests; follows bubbling creeks; and climbs for some stunning views of the Sierra Crest.

fat bikes tahoe donner
Lola checking out the bikes in her Ruffwear Fernie Sweater.

At the Alder Creek Adventure Center located at the base of all the trails, you can purchase day passes for both you ($19) and your dog ($5), and also rent fat bikes ($34 for 2 hours) for the day if you don’t have one of your own (I need to work on that). They have a fleet of Framed Minnesota 2.0, which are super fun to ride.

fat bike apparel
Plenty warm in 20-degree weather with light snow falling.

Apparel

I went for the three layer approach up top, with two layers — insulated bike tights under softshell pants — on the bottom.

Velocio Radiator SL base layer: Made from Polartec Delta, this base layer is technically meant for summer but I find it works great for winter biking. The unique knit mesh construction not only helps regulate your body temperature, but also quickly moves moisture away from your skin and pushes it outward where it can evaporate. This means when you stop moving or during a long descent, you won’t get cold as easily.

Club Ride Two Timer: With 80 grams of quilted synthetic insulation throughout the core, this is the perfect winter riding jacket. The brushed back polyester knit sleeves and side panels feel cozy against the skin yet wick away moisture and add a level of breathability. The rear zippered storage pocket is big enough to store snacks, your phone, and even tools. When working hard during temps in the 30s or even sunny 20s, this is the only outer layer you will probably need. Nitpick: I would love for the folks at Club Ride to call up Polygiene to incorporate their odor control technology into the fabric. You really do need to wash this insulated layer after every single ride or you will be overwhelmed with stink. For my tips on how to get the stink out of your gear, click here.

7Mesh Revelation Jacket: During super windy days, I throw on a shell. The Revelation is still one of my favorites for winter or really wet riding.

Buff Merino Wool Beanie and Neck Warmer: For Tahoe temperatures, lightweight merino wool around your neck and under your helmet is all you need. I like that you can easily breathe through this neck warmer should you want to pull it over your face and it dries super quickly should it get full of slobber or sweat.

bogs boots
Bogs boots -- waterproof and warm.

Footwear

Bogs B-Moc boots: I am not racing fat bikes so don’t exactly need to worry about power transfer. I will settle for nice warm and comfy feet instead, thank you. These boots are both waterproof and fuzzy-lined so keep your feet dry and warm all day whether you are pedaling or slogging through deep snow. You can cinch down the ankle drawcord if you are worried about snow getting into your boots and with a comfort rating of 22 below, you don’t need more than a moisture wicking ski sock inside.

Dissent Ski Socks: I love these moisture wicking, compression socks that are treated with Polygiene to cut down on the stink factor after spending all day inside your boots.

Abom Goggles
Fog-free goggles for those high intensity winter sports.

Helmet & Goggles

Bern Kingston Helmet: A great multisport helmet you can wear for pretty much any winter sport.

Abom Ski Goggles: I like to wear goggles when fat biking as I find it prevents my eyes from watering uncontrollably in the cold air. These goggles feature a transparent thin-film electrically conductive layer placed between the two-part lens — a simple tap of the side button activates the battery to send a current through the film to heat the lens to get rid of any fog build up during those long stretches of uphill riding (or skiing). You can choose for a quick 10-minute hit or for the heat to run all day, up to 6 hours. They saved my butt during a couple freezing rain episodes skiing where I couldn’t see a thing before hitting the button. Anyone who regularly fat bikes or likes to earn their turns skiing should check these out. They come in a variety of lens colors to match the conditions and after speaking with the founder at Outdoor Retailer a few weeks ago, I am excited to learn they will release a lower volume model soon for those of us with smaller faces.

Kurgo
A happy Lola thanks to the Kurgo Backseat Bridge.

Dog Essentials

Kurgo Backseat Bridge: Lola is an anxious road tripper to say the least. We found the closer she is to us, the calmer she feels — she would sit in the front seat on my lap if she could. As that is not safe, of course, I worked with the great folks at Kurgo to figure out a solution. We settled on the Backseat Bridge. It covers the gap between between the rear front seats so that Lola can sit as close to us as possible without actually being on our laps. The rigid yet padded bridge easily hooks around your two front seats and a fold down center barrier acts as a wall just in case you stop short. Throw in a double stack of dog beds and Lola did better than usual on our drive to Tahoe.

Dog Booties: Many people have asked about Lola’s hot pink boots. I ordered them a few years ago from Dog Booties in Alaska. They are made of simple Cordura with a Velcro closure — the exact same booties that the Iditarod dogs wear to keep snow and ice from piling up in their paws. Lola loves them as they weigh practically nothing, mold to her foot shape, and let her keep that ground feel.

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