So yesterday I explained on how much I ride the late model fat bikes like my Farley with the Bluto fork. Talking about how nice it was to ride in summer situations. Today I’ll talk about what these bikes were dreamed up to do. While the new stuff is good enough to ride all summer they still have a “special purpose” in life.
And thats riding in snow. And sand but mostly snow. The early pioneers of these bikes lived in snow belts. Alaska and other cold, wintery spots. They started by welding to MTB rims together and running two MTB tires side by side. That was not that long ago. The development of these bikes were somewhat like the original MTB’s. Just a bunch of parts cobbled together.
While I say I like riding the bikes in summer, I really like riding them in winter more. There seems to be two main types of winter riders. One who likes to get the fattest tire available and set off thru the fields breaking trail. We call those expedition rides. Or those who like to ride the rock hard groomed trails. With not so much float needed a smaller (3.8in) tire is used. Rims of carbon or just not that wide aluminum to hold down the weight. I guess Im the latter.
Flying thru the woods on a winter singletrack(ish) is surreal. Hard to explain. Its like cross country skiing on a fast section. Your in the middle of the woods, everything is white and the trees are flying past you. When these groomed trails are in good condition you are moving as fast as you do in summer. This Sept I raced the Chuammy Short and Fat. The shorter of the two MTB races. The shorter race (12 miles?) is on the same batch of trails that the shorter Fat Bike Birkie is held on in March. During the summer race I recognized some of the same hills we did in winter.
So after the summer MTB race I went back and compared data to the winter race. My average MPH was near identical. Winter race on the ski trail was even smoother than the summer race. Its a blast in winter. The downhills and corners are such an adrenaline rush. Its different but the same between summer and winter.
So lets talk groomed fat bike trails. Last year there was a few. This year it’s exploded. Ive started making a list of machine groomed bike trails.
Heres a new one I just found yesterday. This resort has 17 miles of private ski trail they are now opening up to fat bikes. And so it begins. Soon the groomed trail option will grow two fold. And I want to ride then all.
Last year I only rode on two systems, three if you count the Birkie race. Marquette, MI is still the pioneers in this. 15+ miles of trail now three years in the making. When we were there it snowed too much and the trails were soft. You have to deal with snow conditions just like the skiers do. Same issues apply. When I was up doing the Birkie race I rode a bit on the Seeley trails. Some mileage groomed specifically for bikes but some of the trail was on the current ski trail system there also. And thats a trend you will see grow. Some CC ski systems will start “experimenting” by letting bikes on. Just like the Afterglow Resort mentioned earlier. The private trail systems will be first. If things work out I think more will follow. Here’s a quick vid from Marquette. Ive been on this trail.
So just like all the CC skiers I wait for snow here and dream of a trip up north soon. Again, Im working on a “master list” of groomed bike trails. Details coming soon.