February 16, 2016
Megan Fisher is a veteran cyclist. She’s a ten-time world champion, a 2012 Paralympic Games gold and silver medalist, and a 2016 Paralympic Games hopeful in Rio. Plus she’s a Missoulian, Adventure Cycling’s home base, and when we saw photos of her out riding her fat bike, we just had to catch up with her and talk to her about our favorite February topic: fat bikes.
One thing we learned: Megan trains, travels, and races a lot. This year, Megan is riding for a top-flight racing team, Team Twenty16, and has already scored their first victory. She has a full schedule of racing ahead, competing across the globe, hoping to secure her spot in Rio.
Powering through Montana’s four seasons, like she does, requires creative training. “You can’t do it all indoors,” she says, and this winter the training plan included a Surly Pugsley fat bike. Luckily, plenty of snowfall in western Montana kept skiers and fat bikers happy.
I asked her how the riding was going.
“Of all the cycling I’ve done, I’ve never worked so hard for inches,” she said with a laugh.
Megan attempted to ride to the West Fork Butte Lookout this winter, west of Lolo, MT, in new, soft snow and had to turn around. Workout accomplished? Check. Expectation modified? Check. Like other fat bikers we’ve spoken to, fat bikes do appear to have some traction limits, and understandably can’t just fly over soft snow. (Click that link for amazing photos.)
“But,” she says, “the times when I hit the sweet spot of perfect conditions, I had a total blast.”
And more than just fun, she credits fat biking for sharpening her balance and bike handling skills on tricky, narrow tracks. Interestingly, she also mentioned feeling pressured to make really smooth power to maximize traction, improving her pedal stroke.
Maybe I’m a worrier. I asked her if she was afraid of crashing.
“Not really. My most fun wipeouts have been on fat bikes! I hit some ruts this year and snowplowed some new trail with my shoulder, but really, I think of it as falling on a cloud, compared to dirt or pavement.”
And that bottom bracket is really wide compared to most bikes, forcing your feet to pedal in a much wider stance than usual. I asked if that bothered her.
“I was worried about my IT bands feeling tight, but I have a doctorate in physical therapy, so luckily, I’m really in tune to my body and I know how to keep it out of trouble.”
I also asked if she planned to ride her fat bike all year long, instead of just in the winter.
“Oh yeah! It’s keeping me mentally fresh. I love the way different snow conditions make the trails I know really well seem new and different. And I’m really looking forward to riding those same old trails on a big, bouncy fat bike.”
Here’s a big “Thank You” to Megan Fisher for taking the time to chat. If you’d like to know more about Megan’s love of cycling as an amazing enabler for people of all abilities, then this Missoulian article is a great one.
You can follow Megan on Instagram, @megfisher, and if you have questions about adaptive sports of any kind, she can help: firstname.lastname@example.org
And in her push to Rio 2016, feel free to donate: meganfisher.org. Nobody gets to the biggest stage all by themselves!
By Brink Kuchenbrod | Photos by Dan Poole
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