Kim McNett rides a rough-terrain unicycle on the Bishop’s Beach obstacle course at the 2012 Big Fat Bike Festival.-Photos by Michael Armstrong, Homer News

Kim McNett rides a rough-terrain unicycle on the Bishop’s Beach obstacle course at the 2012 Big Fat Bike Festival.-Photos by Michael Armstrong, Homer News

Big Fat Bike Festival: a low-pressure kind of weekend

Fat bikes. Fat-tire bikes. Snow bikes. Omni-terrain vehicles. Ask Chase Warren and they’re all the same. They also are the centerpiece of the Big Fat Bike Festival 2015.

Warren and other members of the Homer Cycling Club have created a festival agenda that begins Friday and continues through Sunday. It includes food, bonfires and lots of fun activities, all of it centered around fat bikes and the places those bikes can take you.

For a registration fee of $95 — early registration of $85 ended last Saturday — the festival begins Friday with a meet-and-greet at Bishop’s Beach, complete with a bonfire and a Tiki torch-lined obstacle course, and ends with three activities from which to choose on Sunday:

• A Yoga class from 9-10:15 a.m., space is limited;

• An anticipated five-hour ride to Caribou Lake with a 9 a.m. riders’ meeting at Bishop’s Beach before convoying to the trailhead;

• A closing meet-and-greet at Bishop’s Beach with another obstacle course, a fire and fat bike demonstrations. This event is an open-to-the-public event.

 “Really, the main event people are paying for is the Saturday ride,” said Warren of the spotlight activity on Saturday. Participants and their fat bikes meet at Cycle Logical on East End Road, and then ride from Miller’s Landing, up the Kachemak Bay shoreline to McNeil Canyon, the ride’s midway point.

There, a bonfire will help them warm up before they turn around and head back to the starting point. A post-ride burger-and-brew event at Alice’s Champagne Palace on Saturday afternoon and evening is included in the fee, as is a festival T-shirt, a raffle ticket, and all other festival activities.

The burger-and-brew at Alice’s also open to the public.

Last year’s festival featured a beach ride from Anchor Point to Homer, with about 60 riders participating. Wanting to maintain the focus on Homer beaches, organizers this year decided to highlight the east side of the Spit and ride up Kachemak Bay.

“This being a non-race oriented event, riders choose their own speed, stopping wherever they please, and move along at their own pace,” said Warren.

Although not commonly referred to as beach bikes, rolling over the beach is something fat bikes do best, said Warren. The reason is in the bike’s construction. A standard mountain bike tire measures about two inches; the average fat bike tire is four inches wide and some even five inches.

With frames modified to fit the fatter tires, the result is “a pretty complicated bike,” according to Warren.

While that might sound cumbersome and laborious to pedal, Warren pointed out it gives “better flotation, wider surface contact.”

On a winter like this, when other, more traditional outdoor activities have been canceled due to lack of snow, a fat-bike ride that need only consider the tide proves a viable option.

“Beaches, although constantly changing, are dependable and predictable. Unlike ‘some’ seasonal activities, you can count on fat bikes, much like the beach,” said Warren, who also enjoys skiing when conditions permit.

Fat bikes aren’t the Homer Cycling Club’s only method of transportation, but the Big Fat Bike Festival has become the club’s beginning-of-the-year annual fundraising event, “bringing a fair amount of business in a time when it’s pretty dry around here,” said Warren of attracting visitors to the southern Kenai Peninsula. In addition to registration fees, the sale of auction and raffle tickets add to the amount the festival raises.

“I’d say we cleared a few grand in profit last year,” said Warren. “We do all right.”

Festival registration reflects that most festival participants are from in state. It also has attracted the attention of several out-of-staters.

The Homer Cycling Club meets the second Wednesday of each month at the Cook Inletkeeper offices, 3634 Ben Walters Lane. It also is a sponsor of Bike to Work Week, scheduled for May 15 this year.

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at

Big Fat Bike Festival 2015


6 p.m.
Meet and greet at Bishop’s Beach with bonfire and Tiki torch-lined obstacle course.


9 a.m.
Meet at Cycle Logical.

9:30 a.m.
Instructions and announcements.

9:45 a.m.
Gear up, roll out, wait for group photo on the beach.

10:30 a.m.
Bonfire at McNeil Canyon is lit; riders stop at this midway point to warm up.

Noon-3 p.m.
Ride ends at Cycle Logical.

3-6 p.m.
Doors open at Alice’s Champagne Palace.

5 p.m.
Brief speeches and thank-you’s; first raffle ticket pulled.

6 p.m.
Silent auction closes, final raffle ticket pulled.


9–10:15 a.m.
Yoga class, space limited.

9 a.m.
Caribou Lake ride; meet at Bishop’s Beach to convoy to trailhead.

10:30 a.m.
Meet at Bishop’s Beach for more obstacle course fun, a fire and fat bike demos.

Information and registration:

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