The increased number of beefy-tired bikes rolling around is reflected on the Minnesota winter calendar: Fatbike rides and races abound, making it a moment to experience the fun. (Star Tribune beginner’s guide here.)

Sales hit nearly $75 million in the United States in 2016, according to The NPD Group, which tracks U.S. retail bike sale – that is eight times the number in 2013.

Penn Cycle’s fatbike race series has tracked with the bike’s wild popularity. The race series, in the Minnesota River Bottoms in Bloomington, is the longest-running of its kind.

In their sixth year, races take place Jan. 20 and Jan. 27. Each of the races, called Get Phat with Pat (in a nod to Penn Cycle president Pat Sorensen), has fields for beginner, recreational and advanced riders.

The races also are supported by the city of Bloomington, and are a part of the city’s winter celebration, the Winter Fete. In addition to the $10 entry, Phat with Pat registrants are encouraged to donate $5 to Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists, a mountain-biking volunteer group focused on responsible use of trails and trail-building and maintenance.

Penn Cycle also sponsors the Fat Tire Loppet race on Feb. 4 at Theodore Wirth Park. Find details about race times and locations at https://www.facebook.com/pg/penncycle/events/?ref=page_internal.

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