• Posted Dec 27, 2014

Fat Bike Fun

Riding the shoreline at Saylorville Lake is becoming a popular route with Central Iowa Fat Bikers.

Lake is a reservoir on the Des Moines River in Iowa. It is located 11 miles upstream from the city of Des Moines. Saylorville Lake is West of Polk City and Ankeny and North of Des Moines and Johnston. Saylorville

A complete lap of the lake is roughly 18 miles with only 535 foot of elevation gain. Each lap offers a plethora of terrain and features such as sand, rocks, fallen trees, gulleys, mud water crossings and much more.

It is super-fun, but It is not as easy as it sounds as the rock gardens can become pretty technical and dangerous if you don't know what you are doing. the deep sand can be tough to ride through as can the other debris along the shoreline. When in doubt - walk it - to be safe.

Depending on the season, ice, mud or cockle burrs can be your biggest enemy. Watch out for broken glass, misc. metal, fishing line, dead fish, pelicans, geese along the shoreline too.

Once you've overcome the above, this is one of the most challenging and scenic rides in the area.

Weather dictates

A 20 degree temperature swing can make this lap a whole different ride! The colder it gets, the harder the sand is, the less mud you will encounter, but more ice and colder winds off the lake. the warmer it is, expect to work a little harder and get a lot dirtier.

Starting points

Saylorville lake is surrounded by parks with parking lots and beach areas, but the two main starting points are at the Saylorville Visitor's Center and under the One Mile bridge near Polk City. Some of the parking lots are closed during the Winter season.


During the Summer, the Saylorville Marina is open and there are restrooms and other minimal facilities at some of the parks. In the Winter, there is a Casey's in Polk City and nothing around the lake. Take all the water, food and supplies you'll need if you plan the whole lap.

Out and back

Not ready for the whole lap? Choose a starting point and ride out and back.

Bike of Choice

Fat Bikes for sure. 29-er plus and some 29-ers have made their way around too, but we still recommend a fat bike for the best experience. Air-down your tire pressure to get more control.


Wind-proof gear and water-proof winter boots are recommended (seasonal of course). A spare pair of socks can become a life-saver if you put a foot down in the wrong place. Spare gloves if you have the room are handy as well. BE PREPARED to change a flat, fix a chain. It is a LONG walk back with a broken bike.

About Saylorville Lake

Lap of Saylorville Lake - Dec 27th 2014


East Side Ride of Saylorville Shoreline on Fat Bikes Dec 14th 2014





Related Sponsors

Support these BIKEIOWA Sponsors!

Love it!
Thanks Scott!

#1 - borasam posted Dec 30, 2014

Leave a Comment

You must be signed in to leave a comment.