Category Archives: Winter Camping

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 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