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Happy trails for Growler bike race

Sarah Burns Photo

Masha Scheele

On a fresh pack of snow one year ago, Hinton cyclist, Glen Allen, finished seven laps adding up to 35 kilometres and putting him in second place at the three hour Growler fat bike race.

Allen has participated in the race throughout the past five years and compared biking through fresh snow to pedaling through sand.

“It’s hard to ride, just technically to stay on the bike and it’s physically hard,” he said.

This year though, he said the trails are looking exceptional, which is mostly thanks to a small group of volunteers who organize the race and groom the trails.

“This year the course has been really well groomed, Mike Langford does just an amazing job at that, kudos to him,” Allen said.

He expects the hard packed trails to feel similar to summer conditions, with the only difference being the way the thicker tires feel as they float over the snow.

Allen has always been a cyclist, from road riding to mountain biking.

When fat biking became an option it was an easy way to continue being active throughout the winter.

He often chooses his cross country skis over the fat bike but as a competitive person he enjoys riding in the Growler each year.

“It’s definitely less technical than summer mountain biking. It’s a lot more accessible in that regard, if it’s icy that adds another level but generally speaking you’re not riding super technical stuff, it’s more about getting out there and moving around,” he said.

Weather conditions do play a huge role in riding, and the snowpack changes dramatically with fresh snow or old snow. 

One piece of advice Allen offered for anyone who might not be used to fat biking, is to be aware of their tire pressure. He explained that even half a Psi makes a huge difference for how the tire floats on the snow, and many beginners have a tendency to put too much air in their tires.

“Other than that, it’s winter so you have to manage the hydration and water situation so that stuff doesn’t freeze when it gets cold,” he added.

For anyone who spends time outdoors in the winter, this race won’t be too different when it comes to preparations. Generally speaking, clothing and effort is pretty similar for this race than any other winter outdoor activity, Allen added. Each year of the race, people from all sorts of skill levels have participated in the race and enjoyed it.

“Even the people who are there a bit more seriously and are going hard and are there to win, it’s still about fun,” said Allen.

Allen hopes the community appreciates the work put into events like the Growler done by the small group of volunteers, including the Hinton Mountain Biking Association (HMBA). The growler brings in many people who aren’t from the community.

“It’s just a gem, that whole system is a huge gem for people who live here and it’s a huge attraction for people who don’t who want to ride a bike,” said Allen.

The 4th annual Hinton Growler Fat Bike Endurance Race is a family friendly event during the Town of Hinton’s Winter Magic Festival.

Registration for both the three hour Growler race and the 1.5 hour Howler race starts at 11 am at Maxwell Lake on Feb. 22. 

New this year is the Hinton Growler After Party at Folding Mountain Brewery after the race.

For more information, tickets, and registration for the race, head to