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Biking Through The Snow, On Fat Tires We Go

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During the long New England winter, often the best way to get through the coldness is to embrace it. That's exactly what Jeff Clarke of Canaan, Maine, does on his bike. Using an increasingly popular style of bike with extra-wide fat tires, he explores the woods around his home.


In New England, often the best way to get through the long, cold winter is just to embrace it. Jeff Clarke of Canaan, Maine does that on his bicycle. The bike has extra wide fat tires, so he can snow bike every day to explore the woods around his home. Independent producer Patty Wight stopped by for a ride.

PATTY WIGHT: Looking out across the knee-deep snow surrounding his house, Jeff Clarke says it's a perfect day for snow biking.

Mr. JEFF CLARKE (Cyclist): It's a fairly what I would call a gray day. It's overcast, around 12 degrees, you can still see your breath.

WIGHT: We cross the street and immediately come to a field with the snowmobile trails we'll use.

(Soundbite of crunching snow)

WIGHT: Surprisingly easy, and the bike feels pretty sturdy. It's a little windy, but not too bad, actually - oh, I just had to get off my bike because I squirreled out a little bit, starting to feel too comfortable.

(Soundbite of crunching snow)

Mr. CLARKE: This is our normal ride that we do. Every morning at six we get up. Turn on our headlights, go for an hour. It's a great way to start the day. If you've ever been fishing in the woods of Maine and caught one of the male brook trouts in its spawning colors, a lot of mornings, that's what our morning sky is like - dark, dark at the top, dotted by stars, and as the sun comes up, it gives you that bright orange on the bottom.

(Soundbite of crunching snow)

WIGHT: It's like biting into a popsicle with your front teeth. Your teeth get cold because your mouth is open for breathing.

We roll across fields and pass in and out of the woods where evergreens and birch trees line the trail. Clarke says he travels more miles on his bike in the winter than the summer. And that mileage is exactly why he prefers it over any other winter sport.

Mr. CLARKE: A lot of the places we'll go today wouldn't be available to us during the summertime, due to farming and fences up for cows. So, this snowmobile trail allows us to get further off in to the woods right here in our own hometown.

(Soundbite of crunching snow)

Mr. CLARKE: And one of the things we have here is rabbit tracks. Looks like it's a good year for rabbits, and probably the fox and the bobcats will have a good year too. Off we go.

(Soundbite of crunching snow)

Mr. CLARKE: To do this is what a privilege.

WIGHT: Before he started snow biking, Clarke says he dreaded winter. Now, it can't be long enough.

For NPR News, I'm Patty Wight.

Mr. CLARKE: Here comes another downhill. Wee.

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