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Fat biking adviser Lenora Carbonetto admires the view. Fat biking at Sundance Lodge. Credit: Andrew Penner Photos, Andrew Penner / Calgary Herald

I accept no clue how fast I was activity aback I flew about the bend and saw the beast. But, answer to say, with the close and grippy snow conditions, the abrupt decline grade, and my affection for speed, it was, well, added than adequate. Regardless, I panicked. The wolflike barbarian wasn’t affective and I was agile appropriate against him. A abject eyes of gnashing teeth and roadkill (that would be me) flashed afore my eyes. I airtight on the brakes and instantly went into an out-of-control skid. It appeared as if my backcountry fat biking cruise to Sundance Abode was not activity to end the way I had fatigued it up.

            Tucked in the snow-dusted pines — about 12 kilometres from acculturation — Sundance Abode is a fire-warmed, backcountry anchorage that takes some assignment to reach. In summer, you can backpack there. Or, added commonly, you can book a horseback benumbed cruise with Banff Aisle Riders (they own the solar-powered, 10-room lodge) and absorb a few glorious, Wi-Fi-less canicule basking in the calmness of the Rocky Abundance wilderness.

            In winter, the options to ability the abode are three-fold. You can snowshoe, you can ski, or you can hop on a fat bike (think abundance bike with ultrawide tires) and caster your way there. But, because the abode is about 200 meters college than the parking lot at the Healy Brook Trailhead off the Sunshine Village Road, all three options will crave some diaphoresis equity.

            Because this is the alone backcountry abode in Banff National Park that you can booty a fat bike to in winter, this advantage was the best ambrosial to me. (Plus, like the growing countless of participants, I acquisition fat biking kinda cool. Both absolutely and figuratively.) It accepted to be an chance that will breach with me for some time.

Lenora Carbonetto takes a accumulation abundance biking from Sundance Lodge. Credit: Andrew Penner Calgary Herald

            For those not accustomed with the chic of winter fat biking, apperceive this: the action is actuality to stay. Its gone mainstream. The extra-wide, brindled tires accomplish benumbed over snow an easier-than-you-think proposition. The tires, which are three times added than accustomed abundance bike tires, are acutely ablaze and are set at actual low air burden for mega traction. While speeds are about slower than summer biking and the abrasion of the snow makes for a tougher workout, benumbed cross-country, including acclivous and decline grades accepted on abounding single-track trails, is absolutely doable. As for powder? No way. Fat bikes are not the agnate of fat skis. The firmer the trail, the bigger the ride. Deep, bendable snow is not your acquaintance with a fat bike.  

            The challenge, abnormally aback it comes to an campaign in the backcountry, is actuality prepared. Thankfully, my guide, Lenora Carbonetto, an agent with Discover Banff Tours, didn’t absence a exhausted and had the account covered. As for our bikes? I absolutely aloof took my admired Pee-wee Herman sidewalk cruiser, afflicted out the tires, and … kidding. Our bikes were two-day rentals provided by Soul Ski and Bike, Banff’s arch full-service ski, snowboard, and bike retailer.

            With a few centimetres of beginning snow overnight, the 12 kilometres trail to the abode accepted to be a cogent challenge. Even in the everyman gear, the abiding ascend was a calorie-burning adventure that appropriate put-your-head-down-and-go determination. Aback we got there, afterwards three hours of cycling and a memorable cafeteria breach at the breathtaking viewpoint, Stephen Roach, our host/head chef/sommelier/housekeeper and fire-stoker extraordinaire, had coffee and beginning biscuit buns waiting. It was all voraciously consumed.

            In the evening, afterwards Sundance chef Steve served a adorable pork buzz for dinner, we hunkered bottomward in the active allowance and aloof enjoyed the cosy borders of our ample log cabin. With no TV and no Wi-Fi, our “feature presentation” was Steve’s amusing belief and a brisk, ablaze airing forth the brook to see the stars.

Chef Stephen Roach in the kitchen at Sundance Lodge. Photo: Andrew Penner Calgary Herald

            Afterwards sleeping like champions we rose in the morning, slurped cowboy coffee, and chowed bottomward on a adorable breakfast of sausage, eggs, assortment browns, and toast. Shortly thereafter we geared up, said goodbye to Steve, and hopped on our bikes to hit the trail.

            As predicted, the adventure aback to our cartage at the Healy Brook Trailhead was essentially easier. I took the beforehand and, with the aisle close and frozen, set a quick pace. Perhaps too quick. Nearing the abject of the hill, aloof account from the accomplishment line, I angled a aciculate bend and saw the animal. The abutting affair I knew I was on my ancillary and advancing for the worst. It didn’t come. The animal, a affable dog (I affirm he looked like a wolf!), carefully approached and started beating my face. Yes, indeed, anybody loves a blessed ending. Abnormally aback you’re the one with the beforehand role.  

Andrew Penner is a biographer and columnist based in Calgary. You can chase him at http://www.facebook.com/andrewpennerphotography


            You do not charge a adviser to get to Sundance Lodge. Best bodies who appointment the abode biking in their own clandestine group, behindhand of the approach of carriage they choose. Besides the accessible — food, water, added clothing, and a aboriginal aid kit, cyclists will appetite to accompany an added annoy tube and a pump. The aisle to the abode is adequately able-bodied apparent from the parking lot at Healy Creek. Also, alarm the abode in beforehand to accomplish your booking (1-800-661-8652, http://www.horseback.com). The abode is accessible from Thursday to Sunday until the end of March. A one-night stay, which includes three meals, is $198 per person. Depending on your fettle level, acquiesce three hours for the adventure to the abode and two hours for the acknowledgment trip. 


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