Could this be the future of fatbiking?
We all know the scenario. Being a skier also I hear the comments. Yesterday morning I read this post on Facebooks Fatbike group page. And kinda made me think a little. First off, the dude was ranting. He’s way off base but the theory is legit. Nobody wants someone else to damage “his\her” trail.
Im not going to waste time rebutting his post. But the fact is these bikes are not for “winter exploration” anymore. As the bike numbers grow, and they will, many cross country ski systems will see the dollar signs and start grooming and staging events for these bikes. Of course its already started.
I can only speak locally, but here the fatbike community of course stays off all ski trails. Knowing how cool it would be if we could ride them. But in time, many trail systems will at some point realize that when done properly a fatbike leaves little to no damage on the skate trails. Again, done properly. Conditions permitting of course.
My first taste of ski trail wonder was the Fatbike Birkie last March up in Hayward, WI. Pretty much the center of cross country skiing in the Midwest. Up to that point any woods riding I did was either on a snowshoe trail or some hiking trail.
Hitting those trails for that race was surreal. 20+ feet wide. Hard as cement and as fast as if it were summer on a MTB. Im not ashamed to say I ran 15 pounds of air. And still did not leave a footprint in the snow. What a experience.
So where does that leave us. Skiers want to keep the fatbikes at bay and thats understandable. No skier wants to be skating down perfect corduroy only to have a bunch of crazy people on weird bikes ruin their experience. But being an individual who does both gives me an open mind. If the bikes are doing less to the trail than my skis then why not?
I have had a dream (statement slightly changed not to slight MLK).
In the future I will be riding my MTB on trails all summer. And my fatbike on groomed trails all winter. In the future you will be able to drive to a awesome trail system to hit up 20 miles of fast, perfectly groomed winter trails. And maybe another 20 miles somewhere else next week. Then hang in the warm house with a brew or two. How will this be possible?
By somehow, someway combining ski and bikes on the same trail. Somehow.
There. I said it out loud.
I dont have the answer. Maybe classic to the left, bikes to the right, skaters down the middle? I dont know. Remember Im dreaming this right now.
But I do know that these ski trail systems do not have the footprint on their land nor the added resources to extend miles and miles of bike only trail. I mean the resources to do it on an ongoing basis without volunteer help. But maybe the can “enhance” their existing ski trail to accommodate bikes without a lot of added work?
Now I sure do know of several trail systems doing it now here in my area. Of course Marquette, MI is. The Levis Trow system in Neilsville, WI is also. And now there is some nice activity in Cable ,WI too. All separate trail. All single track specific to bikes. All volunteer maintained. And all a ton of fun. These single track trails are maybe three feet wide max. Ive been to many ski trail systems that are 20 yards wide. Could they, or would they spare three feet on the right?
So what Im talking about is just one step further than the specific single track groom for bikes. Maybe it will never happen. Maybe its too much to ask or maybe some will try and it just wont work. But I can still dream.
Because how fun would it be if it could be done.