Mark your calendar for this annual lakeside bike festival with riding, touring, racing and more

The bicycle is a staple of summertime activities in Northeast Indiana. Whether you enjoy casual bike riding, touring, racing, or all three, there’s a regional festival you won’t want to miss. 

Dedicated to biking and the benefits it provides individuals and communities, Fat & Skinny Tire Festival (FSTF) has been a staple of the Warsaw and Winona Lake community since it started 17 years ago in 2004. This festival is three days packed with 15 bike-related events, and while the 2022 FSTF took place May 20-22, there promises to be many more years of cycling ahead.

Mike Cusick, President of KCV (Kosciusko County Velo) and a Co-Direct of the festival says FSTF showcases all the different aspects of riding and racing, including road races, mountain biking, and BMX.

“Our goal is to have something for everyone—kids and families, the recreational rider, and the competitive athlete,” he says. “We also mix in great live music, food, and entertainment for the participants and spectators.” 

Nearly 850 bikers participated in the critical mass bike ride from Winona Lake to Downtown Warsaw.

As a volunteer cycling club, KCV raises awareness for cycling through advocacy, access, and activities to help make the community a safer and more enjoyable place. One way they do this is by offering events, such as FSTF. 

Each year, the festival kicks off with a much-anticipated critical mass bike ride for all ages. Riders gather in the Village of Winona and bike to downtown Warsaw to signify the beginning of this annual, weekend-long celebration. This year, about 850 people took part in the ride, and participation continues to grow every year, Cusick says. In total, FSTF 17 in 2022 had an astounding 2,011 event participants along with an estimated 6,000-7,000 spectators. 

FSTF is designed to be friendly for all ages and skill levels, offering distances from 12-100 miles. There’s everything from the mass ride to the countryside tour and the laid-back Winona Historical Tour to more competitive activities for racers, such as the mountain biking and road racing portions of the festival. 

“We pull in everything from amateur riders just getting into racing to pro teams,” Cusick says.

Fat & Skinny Tire Fest has races and activities for bikers of all ages.

Activities for children and families are a key part of the festival. With a focus on bike education, such as how to ride a bike properly, rules of the road, and building toward greater levels of difficulty, the hope is to introduce children to biking and teach them skills, but also help them develop an interest and enthusiasm to enjoy riding bikes for years to come, Cusick says. As riders develop more skills by learning at these events, they’ll be equipped to take on more challenging rides. 
 
Speaking of challenges, the road racing event each Sunday of the festival is a premiere event that continues to grow in popularity. This timed road race on the island in Winona Lake Village is high-energy and fast-paced for participants and spectators alike. It has even attracted professional racers, like Chloe Dygert, to participate. She was a silver medalist in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, and is champion of seven gold medals from the UCI Track Cycling World Championships. 

The unique bike festival offers mountain bike races and road races.

Each year, FSTF helps put Northeast Indiana on the map for cyclists and enriches local health and wellness. Cusick says volunteers are hugely appreciated, as they are a major piece that holds the event together. In 2022, nearly 280 volunteers helped make FSTF a success. The support of the greater Warsaw and Northeast Indiana community also make the event possible.

Learn more about Fat & Skinny Tire Fest, and mark your calendar for next year’s event by visiting fatandskinnytirefest.com.