Fat biking, mainly done in the winter, allows mountain bikers to continue riding into the deep temperature drops the Northeast is known for. The bikes are literally equipped with fat tires, allowing for more surface area to grip the snow. Airstream Supply Co. took an Airstream Basecamp X up to Ranch Camp in Stowe to experience firsthand this unique sport, and get a lesson from the go-to-shop for fat biking in Vermont. We loaded the bikes with their 5-inch knobby tires into the Basecamp X through the convenient back door and headed up to the trail with Ranch Camp general manager Evan Chismark.
Ranch Camp is a full-service bike shop offering rentals, demos, and bike service, as well as a tap room and casual eatery serving local beer and a curated menu by Chef Joe Rock. It's the brainchild of Evan Chismark and his partners Nate Freund and Ryan Thibault, who wanted to create a place where mountain biking, good food, and great community could exist in harmony. They set up shop in a building that was home to the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, right on the trailhead of the Cady Hill Trail network. It's the perfect jumping off point for mountain biking in the summer and fat biking in the winter.
"We're striving to be more than just a place where you buy bikes and buy food," says Chismark of Ranch Camp's mission statement. "The goal is to build community using bikes, craft beer, and healthy food as a catalyst."
The idea of Ranch Camp was born on the trails. Evan was working in trail advocacy and joined forces with his partners on a bit of a whim. Through their friendship, an opportunity presented itself in summer 2017 and from there, Ranch Camp was born.
Evan and his partners recognized that the mountain bike community in Vermont was booming. But, there was no basecamp for all the enthusiasts. They wanted to create a base lodge for riders of all levels to kick back, reminisce about the day’s ride, and congregate in a group setting. They hoped to create a community of riders at the lodge and they did just that.
The connector of mountain biking has linked riders from all different states, and Ranch Camp has certainly lent a hand in that. The location doesn’t hurt either: Ranch Camp is strategically located trailside from one of the most popular mountain biking trails in the area. It is also right off of Mountain Road (VT 108), the main thoroughfare through Stowe.
Not to mention, Ranchcamp truly is one of a kind. All artwork hanging in the Ranchcamp is illustrated by one of Evan’s partners and the food menu is a beautiful blend of pub fare and health conscious grub.
"It's high-energy food," says Chismark of the offerings on Ranch Camp's menu. "Food that’s suitable for active people, but also healthy. We do local hand-cut French fries, local beef hamburgers, plus kale salads. We’re keeping things healthy, but tailoring it to people who are out being active."
The menu also offers a number of vegan and gluten-free options beyond the typical roasted vegetables.
"We wanted to make a dedicated effort to make the menu vegetarian-friendly," says Chismark. "We wanted non-meat option that people would enjoy – things they can eat and it'll stick to their ribs."
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