Category Archives: Lake Winnipeg Fatbike Adventures

FaceBook Event: 2-4 Mar 2018 ‘Alfred Barr’ Lake Winnipeg Fatbike Crossing & Campover

Giddy up fellow fatbikers, our Leaders Team has finished our planning and details have come together for an excellent adventure and Memorial Event in Honour of Alfred Barr. 

Check it out here:
FaceBook Event: 2018 ‘Alfred Barr’ Lake Winnipeg Fatbike Crossing & Campover


Map - 2018 'Alfred Barr' Lake Wpg Crossing & Campover

Tom Kolesnik - Picture Collage for 2018 Lake Wpg FB Crossing & Campover copy

Cheers, Fat Tom K

Fat Video Time: Campsite Trial Setup for the 2018 ‘Alfred Barr’ Lake Wpg Fatbike Crossing & Campover

It was time to trial our planned Camp Site setup for the “2018 ‘Alfred Barr’ Lake Winnipeg Fatbike Crossing & Campover” adventure weekend planned for 2-4 March 2018.

Tenting Base Camp Layout - Lake Wpg Fatbike Campover 2018

At the centre is a Double Combo large tent that will be heated for our main communal retreat, plus five 6-Person tents, two large ice fishing pop up shelters for cooking & eating, plus a small shelter for our Toilet Tent.  Additional 2-6 Person tents will be added as required.

Trial Campsite Setup Video Thumbnail

This trial was a good way for our Leaders Team to check out the set up procedures and make any corrections (such as more guy ropes).  We all agreed that the tents and shelters work great and are quite easy to set up and secure with the right stakes and ice screws.

Tent City Camp Site

Check out my video below:

Cheers, Fat Tom K

Setting up at ‘Tent City’ Campsite on the Red River: Lake Winnipeg Team Leaders Prepare

Great fun today setting up our little ‘Tent City’ Campsite on the Red River as a shake out for our “2018 ‘Alfred Barr’ Lake Winnipeg Fatbike Crossing & Campover”, which will be set up in the middle of the lake on 2-4 March 2018.

Thanks Robert La Roque and Ken Buhler for early help with the big combo tent …Tent City Camp Site on Red River 10

Later some of our Leaders Team (Gregory ‘GMac” McNeill, Chris Black, and Jonathan Letkemann), plus several Xtreme Sports Medics (Kas Savage and Natasha Arnfinson) joined me in setting the rest of the campsite up …

Tent City Camp Site on Red River 16

Tent City Camp Site on Red River 14

Tent City Camp Site on Red River 11

Tent City Camp Site on Red River 13

Tent City Camp Site on Red River 12

Tent City Camp Site on Red River 1

Tent City Camp Site on Red River 3

Tent City Camp Site on Red River 20

Waking up the next morning to this sight out the back window was a real treat!
Tent City Camp Site on Red River 21
Good times ahead!

Cheers, Fat Tom K

Fat Video Time: Campover at Fat Tom K’s Red River Fatbike Crossing

FAT VIDEO TIME: I decided that last night was a perfect night (-31C/-42 windchill) for a campover on the river beside my “2018 Fat Tom K Red River Fatbike Crossing” here in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada – Eh!


Yes – it was crazy cold, but I was cumfy in my North Face sleeping bag on a good combo sleeping pad and snug in my Big Agnes 4-Season tent! 


Here’s a bird’s eye view (aheam – my new DJI Mavic Pro Drone’s 4K camera) of my crossing and campover site!

Video Thumbnail 1-2

Check out my video below:


For those not aware, this campover was partially as a test for the upcoming “2018 ‘Alfred Barr’ Lake Winnipeg Fatbike Crossing & Campover” Adventure Weekend planned for 2-4 March 2018 …


Here’s the plan for our campsite out on the middle of Lake Winnipeg (my Big Agnes 6 Person tent is located on the left and is planned for five persons on the lake):
Tenting Base Camp Layout - Lake Wpg Fatbike Campover 2018

Editor’s Post Update (7 Feb 18):
Thanks Gregory ‘G-Mac’ McNeill for this picture taken down by my tent on the Red River after six of our nine leaders of the 2018 ‘Alfred Barr’ Lake Winnipeg Fatbike Crossing & Campover” adventure had a great Leaders Team Planning Meetings …
2018 Lake Wpg FB Adventure Leader Team on Red River by Tent
L-R: G-Mac, Tom K, Chris Black, Keith Holm, Jon Letkemann and Keith Champagne

Cheers, Fat Tom K


“2018 ‘Alfred Barr’ Lake Winnipeg Fatbike Crossing & Campover”: Details for 2-4 March 2018

Details are coming together for the:
“2018 Alfred Barr’ Lake Winnipeg Fatbike Crossing & Campover” Adventure – now planned for Fri-Sun 2-4 March 2018!


We are dedicating this Memorial event in Honour of our much loved Fatbiking and adventure friend Alfred, who died on 8 March 2017 during an Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Search and Rescue (SAR) Technician training jump from a 435 Squadron C-130 Hercules – just days after he had taken part in our 2017 version of the same Lake Wpg crossing and campover. I announced this Event Memorial dedication when I spoke at Alfred’s Memorial Service at 17 Wing Winnipeg Air Base, received his families’ appreciation and endorsement. Now we follow through … Alfred you will not be forgotten!

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Alfred – we are going to complete the task you had set out for yourself and told us about on the lake last year … Alfred Barr: “I am so lucky to be a SAR Tech and so very well trained during my SAR Tech Course 49 this past year. I hope to pass on a lot of my newly honed skills, especially Arctic survival and extended adventure travel to my Fatbiking friends.” Don’t worry Alfred … your friends will ‘take up the torch’ and try to live up to the SAR Tech Motto that you died training to uphold: “That Others May Live” Rescue!

While we will be following a similar inexpensive/non-profit/cooperative group adventure plan as last year; with limited sponsorships (last year MEC & Wilderness Supply were very supportive), we will also be engaging in cooperative training and adventure with SAR Techs from 435 Sqn and others who trained with Alfred on SAR Tech Course 49. They will be taking part on the ground (ahem, snow) and possibly from the air (if weather and coordination allows for parachute training).

We will provide 1, 2 and 3 day participation options:

Fri 2 March: Take part in Fatbiking, winter camping skills, backcountry medical/evacuation SAR practice exercises likely on Lake Winnipeg with fatbikers and motorized escort quads/snowmobiles heading out to the center of the lake to set up a little ‘tent city’ and campover with the Team Leaders.


Map - 2018 'Alfred Barr' Lake Wpg Crossing & Campover

Tenting Base Camp Layout - Lake Wpg Fatbike Campover 2018

Sat Morning 3 March: Fatbikers and escort vehicles bike/drive back from the lake campsite in the early morning to the Sand Bar Inn in Grand Marais for breakfast and to meet up with other FatBikers joining the group who drive out from ‘town’ that morning.


Sat 3 March: After breakfast, the combined group will ride across Lake Winnipeg following a marked/groomed route with snowmobile/quad support for pressure ridge crack crossings as req’d. Stop at mid-lake to add to the campsite with any additional tents and gear, possible 435 Sqn SAR aircraft participation, then continue across to Gimli for lunch and then back to the camp for supper, bonfire and sleepover in our little tent city.


Sun 4 March: After a breakfast on the lake, we will ride back to the Sand Bar Inn at Grand Marais for lunch and adventure wrap up.


I am also pleased to announce that our Leaders Team is now complete and these amazing volunteers will ensure that our adventure is well organized, safe and fun:

Gregory McNeill - Picture Collage for 2018 Lake Wpg FB Crossing & Campover copy

Keith Holm - Picture Collage for 2018 Lake Wpg FB Crossing & Campover copy

Jonathan Letkemann - Picture Collage for 2018 Lake Wpg FB Crossing & Campover copy

Patrick Stevens - Picture Colage for 2018 Lake Wpg FB Crossing & Campover copy

Kevin Champagne - Picture Collage for 2018 Lake Wpg FB Crossing & Campover copy

Robert Paige Xtreme Sports Medics - Picture Collage for 2018 Lake Wpg FB Crossing & Campover copy

Dave MacDonald - Picture Collage for 2018 Lake Wpg FB Crossing & Campover copy

Chris Black - Picture Collage for 2018 Lake Wpg FB Crossing & Campover copy

Sgt Steve Delage - Picture Collage for 2018 Lake Wpg FB Crossing & Campover copy
Tom Kolesnik - Picture Collage for 2018 Lake Wpg FB Crossing & Campover copyTom Kolesnik
2018 ‘Alfred Bar’ Lake Winnipeg Fatbike Crossing & Campover
Adventure Weekend Coordinator
Cell: (204) 612-9266

Major Tom Kolesnik, RCAF, 17 Wing LLO
Former 435 Sqn C-130 SAR Pilot

More details to follow after upcoming planning mtgs.

G-Mac’s Flickr Account: 2017 Lake Winnipeg Fatbike Crossing & Campover


This beautiful picture of our “Fattie – Not So Frozen – Dozen” enjoying some bonfire time at our campsite on Lake Winnipeg last weekend is courtesy of our very own fatbiker friend and photographer extraordinaire Gregory ‘G-Mac’ McNeill.

The rest of Gregory’s excellent pictures from our “2017 Lake Winnipeg Fatbike Crossing and Campover” adventure are on his flickr account here:…/116655655…/albums/72157680968774465

- G-Mac's Flickr 2017 Lake Wpg FB C&C

Thanks again G-Mac for capturing our adventure so well!

Cheers, Fat Tom K

The ‘Fatty – Not So Frozen – Dozen’ Rocked the “2017 Lake Winnipeg Fatbike Crossing & Campover”

Our “Fatty – Not So Frozen – Dozen” took on the “2017 Lake Winnipeg Fatbike Crossing & Campover” on 25-26 Feb 2017 and ROCKED IT! 🙂

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Gregory ‘G-Mac’ McNeill’s awesome group picture!

We rode from Grand Marais, Manitoba 35 Kms/22 Miles across to Gimli (for lunch of course – thanks to Jeffrey Badger for the free drinks at Kris Fish & Chips) and then back to the middle to camp over night.


Here’s Pete McAdams out for a casual ride (by his regular long distance riding standards).
Paul ‘PePe’ Lapointe and Lindsay ‘The Legend’ Gauld.


We rode on the “Closed for the Season – early due to recent snow melt” snowmobile trail that was still marked and providing a roughened icy tread remnant with some old and new thin snow cover.


Ken Stojak and Tony Kinal.
Me, Keith Holm and Bradley Paul.

Those with studs were better able to ride all of the surface, but with lower tire pressure those non-studded faired fine (a few spills happened early on with the icy close to shore section covered by a wisp of fresh snow that made it hard to see what was really icy). After about 4 Kms the trail was much better with snow pack.

Tony and Ken (the Pulk ‘Pack Mule’).
Lindsay: “So then I realized I was gonna have to wrestle that Polar Bear!” 😉
Keith with both wheels on the ground for a change! 😉


Our American friend Bradley Paul was welcome to pitch his tent near ours, but decided for photographic purposes he would find a spot on his own.


Thankfully, our recce ride the day before the weekend confirmed the trail conditions and the ice pressure ridge gaps that had developed just out from the Gimli Harbour and likely further out!  With that info, we had Kevin Champagne step up with his brother Peter to join us with two quads and foldable ramp to allow safe gap crossings!











The skies cleared as dusk approached.



Alfred working his stove with a solid wind blowing across the lake.

Kevin & Peter also transported some firewood for us … added bonus!  We enjoyed a night around a bonfire, complete with special beverages, snacks, tall tales and entertainment (Ken’s fireworks – Just little ones – no SAR or 911 callouts).




Paul ‘PePe’ Lapointe could read the bottle.



Bedtime and all the guylines tight with a solid wind and -20C.

After our morning ‘boil offs’ for breakfast and water bottle refills Gregory arranged our group photo shoot and then we rode back to Grand Marais for lunch (okay – a few speedsters enjoyed brunch :-])!


Wakey wakey time in my Big Agnes 6-Person tent.  Only five of us slept in it and that was perfect actually.  Pete McAdams is in the back and L-R was Gregory (already up), Alfred Barr (Para Rescue toque), me and David Ristau (that’s him smiling cuz he’s so warm).

Almost up …
There it is and just enough wind to display the Canadian Flag.  Bradley Paul did bring an American flag, but left it in his vehicle – accident or being too nice? 😉

As Gregory put it when we were chatting after sunrise:
This is AWESOME – look at that [view], that’s what we came here for – it’s beautiful!

Here Bradley Paul from New York rising from his little tent that appears to be all on it’s own on Lake Winnipeg – almost like it was staged! 😉
Jonathan Letkemann was an excellent addition to our crew and we chatted out more adventures ahead, including an even bigger lake trip in the future.
Alfred and Jonathan lighting stoves and sharing adventure ideas!
Wow Gregory – just Wow!!!
Gregory’s full version of our Group Picture.
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G-Mac: “We need pizza, stat – now get to da choppa!” 😉
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Me and Keith – a fellow fun adventurer you can always count on! 🙂
4 Fatbike Riders on Lake Winnipeg - 4 Mar 17 - Tom, Alfred, David & Bradley
Me, Alfred, David Ristau and Bradley riding back into Grand Marais.
The weather beautiful for our ride back in for lunch.

Thanks for joining in guys:
Gregory C. McNeill, Alfred Barr, Keith Holm, Jonathan Letkemann, David Ristau, Lindsay Gauld, Paul Lapointe, Pete McAdams, Bradley D Paul, Ken Stojak and Tony KinalA great group of fellow winter adventurers! 

It was a terrific adventure for all and a lot of fun ‘ta boot’!

A big shout out to Wayne Bishop who had offered to groom a track across the lake for us, but the recent melt off made that not required. In normal conditions, our trip would have been difficult to impossible without his Wild Cat groomer!

Big Sponsorship thanks to:
– Rick Shone and Garrett Tremblay at Wilderness Supply Winnipeg (assistance with Base Camp Tent)!
Wilderness Supply
– Ken Berg and Alisa Mayberry at Mountain Equipment Coop Winnipeg (camping meals)!
MEC Winnipeg

It was a terrific adventure for all and a lot of fun ‘ta boot’! 🙂

Cheers, Fat Tom K

* These pictures were added later in Post Edit … in Memory of RCAF SAR Technician Alfred Barr who died during a training parachute jump from an RCAF C-130 Hercules aircraft (that I used to pilot) … just 10 days after he had adventured with us as a member of our ‘Fatty-Not So Frozen-Dozen’.





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Alfred – you are not forgotten!

Next year we will return to again to “Camp Barr” on the middle of the lake during the “2018 ‘Alfred Barr’ Lake Winnipeg Fatbike Crossing & Campover” adventure!

Always a SAR Brother – RESCUE!

Major Tom Kolesnik, RCAF
Former 435 Squadron C-130 Hercules SAR Pilot


Lake Winnipeg Recce Report: All Good for a Fatbike Adventure Weekend!

Lake Winnipeg Recce Report:

It’s going to be a great weekend!

On the Grand Marais Side:  All the puddles are solid frozen now and the trail is well defined and rough (generally good traction) with the trail markers in place. No problem riding with no studs, but studs are a bonus and with them you can enjoy riding on the smooth areas. Very little snow left until you get out a few kms.  The usual narrow cracks are no issue.  Plenty of people out ice fishing using trucks.

Recce Ride 24 Feb 2017 - 3b
Here’s our American friend Bradley Paul from NY posing by the Snoman Trail signs (gotta love the STOP sign!).  You can see some frozen puddles from the recent + temps, but the trail itself is not bad and gets better as you ride further from shore.
Recce Ride 24 Feb 2017 - 2
It’s not snowpack but it is roughened and it gets better as you go.
Recce Ride 24 Feb 2017 - 2b
Thumbs up from Gregory ‘G-Mac’ McNeill and he was riding without studs.

After riding out a fair ways on the Grand Marais side, we could confirm no major pressure ridge or cracks and that the riding surface got better after about 4 kms.  Then we drove around to Gimli.

On the Gimli side, we rode out from the harbour and looked for the main trail leading to an expected pressure ridge crossing point …
Recce Ride 24 Feb 2017 - 6

We discovered that the usual pressure ridge about 400 metres out from the Harbour had increased recently (we were warned) and stepping or jumping across was not an option.
Recce Ride 24 Feb 2017 - 7

We are looking at a way to bridge it with ramp support from our quad friends (thanks Kevin & Peter Champagne).  Safety will be the priority, but we did find a good spot to cross (preferably with ramps).
Recce Ride 24 Feb 2017 - 8

Recce Ride 24 Feb 2017 - 9
Here G-Mac riding back into the Gimli Harbour past the iconic Lake Winnipeg Research ship.
Recce Ride 24 Feb 2017 - 5
Before we headed home, we checked out the pressure ridge at the northern end of the harbour.  G-Mac caught this gorgeous view! 🙂

So, all is good for this weekend!

Studded tires would be a bonus, but not required.  Just ride on the rougher sections and straight line on the smooth parts.

We have two quads (with loading ramps for crack-crossing) in support thanks to the amazing Kevin & Peter Champagne! 🙂

Cheers, Fat Tom K

Lake Winnipeg Fatbike Crossing & Campover: 25-26 Feb 2017 – We’re a Go!

So, if you’ve heard rumours of some fatties planning to sleep out on the middle of Lake Winnipeg … their true and we are a GO!

‘Behind the scenes’ a group of six of us local fatbikers have been planning a new adventure to take our previous fatbike crossings of Lake Winnipeg (as part of Jeff & Candy Badger’s annual “Polar Bear Run/Bike Crossings”) to another level of planning, coordination and challenge.

Gregory's Polar Bear Crossing 2016 Pics 1b
At least four of the guys in this pic from our 2016 Lake Wpg Polar Bear Crossing will be on our upcoming Crossing & Campover.

The result is that our core Planning Team has a plan and 4-6 more riders are joining us.  It looks like there will be 10-12 of us – including Bradley, an American from NY (who I met last year when he was taking part in a fatbike training camp on Lake Wpg).

So … we will take on the first (Annual?) of the following adventure:

The “Lake Winnipeg Fatbike Crossing & Campover” on Sat/Sun 25-26 Feb 2017.
– We will have several guides/experienced fatbikers in our group and I will be Lead Guide for our adventure.
– We will do this as a cooperative activity.
– We will be using the ‘Closed to Snowmobiles’, but still marked “Snowman #17 “Piston Popper” Snowmobile Trail from Grand Marais to Gimli (approx 35 Kms) and riding back to the center of the lake to campover.

2017 Lake Wpg FB Crossing & Campover Map -Snowman #17 Trail

– We will have the support of several snowmobiles (or quads depending on the snow depth on the lake) thanks to Kevin Champagne and his Brother Peter – thanks guys!

– We have received some sponsorship support from MEC Winnipeg  in the form of camp meals and snacks!  Thanks MEC – always good to have extra food on hand!
MEC Winnipeg MEC Meals 1

– I have also received sponsorship support from Wilderness Supply in Winnipeg, that has allowed me to acquire the Big Agnes 6-Person 4-Season Tent for use on this and future adventures. Just used it on the river behind my house – a nice base camp tent:
Fat Tom K's 6-Person Tent on Red River
Thanks Wilderness Supply – you rock!
Wilderness Supply
– Thanks to one of our Planning Team members Alfred Barr (local fatbiker – who is also an RCAF SAR Tech at 435 Squadron based in Winnipeg) we will also have the use of an Iridium Sat Phone!  Thanks Alfred, but I hope you don’t mind us calling for pizza delivery! 😉
Sat Phone

– Some of us will be riding with fully loaded bikes:
Fat Tom K Loaded Bike at Hecla

– Others will use ‘Pulk’ sleds behind their bikes (like Ken just made for this trip):
Ken Stojak's Fatbike Pulk

– While we will be bringing meals to cook on the lake and extras, we do plan to enjoy a hardy breakfast at the Sand Bar Inn in Grand Marais on Saturday before we start and a lunch on Sunday on our return.  We also are planning a late lunch at Kris Fish & Chips in Gimli (owner’s Jeff & Candy Badger have promised a free first drink – thanks you two!).

– Our very own fatbiker-photographer extraordinaire Gregory ‘G-Mac’ McNeill will be riding with us and snapping pictures that will no doubt make us look even more adventurous than we will be …

Gregory's Polar Bear Crossing 2016 Pics 3
Yup – Photo Credit to G-Mac! 🙂

– We are doing this adventure as a ‘simple – but well planned‘ and cooperative adventure.  We will work as a team and make it a fun and safe adventure.

This is going to be a blast! 🙂

Any questions or interest, you can contact me at:

Cheers, Fat Tom K