New snowsport thrives with sales doubling every year since 2010
By Polly Lynn
“It’s like I’m riding on a cloud,” said Alex Kerpel, a Killington resident who joined a group of nine cyclists to ride the trails of Mountain Meadows, Monday, Jan. 12.
Tony Accurso of Fat Bike Vermont in Woodstock provided the bikes. He plans to offer rentals at Mountain Meadows for the rest of the season, and hopes to expand to Killington Resort’s tubing park as well.
Accurso and his team currently have a fleet of 20 bikes to rent, each featuring the newest technology for the best experience, Accurso explained.
“The current models have wider hubs and bottom brackets to accommodate wider tires for better flotation in snow, and offer more stability,” he said. “We’ve also invested in bar mitts to enhance the comfort of our riders. We know that cold hands make for a miserable experience!”
Bar mitts are neoprene sleeves attached to the handles of the bike. They apparently provided enough warmth for one of the riders on Monday to bike without gloves despite the snowstorm!
Accurso is passionate about the sport and thrilled to be sharing it with riders in central Vermont. “It’s already become a popular sport up north in Vermont; the 75th annual Stowe Derby is even allowing a fat bike division this year, which is a powerful statement of just how accepted it’s become, I think,” Accurso states.
Everybody is getting into the game, he continued. “What was once a niche market has become mainstream, with all of the large bicycle manufacturers now offering fat bikes.”
The sport is attracting riders from both ends of the spectrum: younger, older and everyone in between. It is infecting all demographics. “If you can ride a bike, you can ride a fat bike,” Accurso said. “There are no special skills needed and slow speed falls in the snow don’t really hurt!”
Fat biking has become one of the largest growth areas of cycling, doubling in sales every year since 2010, according to Bicycle Retailer Magazine. “I can’t even get more bikes from the manufacturers right now; they’re all sold out!” Accurso said.
But, thus far, fat biking hasn’t been easy for those in Rutland or Windsor counties to experience. Rikert Nordic Center in Ripton was perhaps the closest rent-and-ride option.
Accurso saw this as an opportunity.
“With the resort and the town both planning to expand their mountain biking trails, it’s the perfect fit,” he said. “I’m excited to offer the community something new, something exciting, something that’s just ahead of the curve.”
Like many, Accurso moved to Vermont for the lifestyle. A former mountain bike racer and lifelong skier, his former professional life was in auto sales, where he received many distinguished awards for his sales accomplishments. “I didn’t move here for the money, I moved here for the lifestyle and for the community… it’s really exciting to be part of a growing sport. Everybody wants to partner with us and everyone wants to try it out. These next few weeks will be exciting.”
In addition to the renting fat bikes, Accurso plans to host events this winter which may include races and on-snow demos. For more information visit fatbikevermont.com.