Fat biking on the Fraser Valley trails plan radar | SkyHiNews.com

Fat biking on the Fraser Valley trails plan radar

Keith Sanders
Mountain Biking with Keith

Scott Wickberg / Wick Creative

There are an awful lot of options of things to do here. Sure you had to get out and track up some powder. I know I did. One of the hardest things to do is decide what activity to do next. Luckily on Wednesday that decision was made for me as I "had" to go out on a fat tire mountain bike ride.

This ride was part of a photo and video shoot for the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce. The footage will be used for create some short clips to promote the segment of mountain biking known as fat tire biking. Mountain biking continues to grow at a rapid rate here, which creates a bit of a double-edged sword.

Everyone loves to have the trails all to themselves as if no one else is around, leaving you with the feeling that they are almost your personal trails. The catch to all of this is that without users we wouldn't have the trails that we so enjoy. More use identifies the need for more or better trails. Add in the component of sales and marketing and you have part of the recipe that has created an economic engine around mountain biking.

Our group was small yet diverse. Meara is the director of the Headwaters Trails Alliance, Maire works for a company that makes snow grooming equipment, Scott is a media expert, and then there was me. We all come from slightly different aspects of life, yet mountain biking created a common thread.

“As we rode our excitement was more of that of children than adults. I hope that feeling never ends.”

Topics of conversation focused on mountain biking and fat tire bikes as that related to our photo/video shoot. Scott had a wealth of information regarding marketing and trends on the internet. Maire has done quite a bit of research in the area of grooming and fat tire biking. It was interesting to hear what she has learned from other resorts and how they are addressing fat tire biking. This type of information will be extremely valuable as fat tire biking is addressed here in the Winter Park area.

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Fat tire biking is a relatively new activity. Learning how to create a quality experience and meet the needs of fat bike users as well as others is a work in progress. To ride a fat bike in our environment you must have snow compaction. There are a multitude of various types of snow grooming equipment that have been developed for compacting trails. Much of this equipment is derived from what has been used for cross country skiing and as a result creates an almost identical trail condition. The main difference is often trail width. Determining the variety of trail experiences desired by users will be a work in progress. We are fortunate that others have gone through a bit of a learning curve and we can use that knowledge to our benefit.

I bring this up as it ties back to the marketing of mountain biking and our photo/video shoot. Sure, we can market anything, but without the foresight to identify the needs of the users and address those needs then we only set ourselves up to underachieve or alienate the very people we have attracted. This sounds so simple but don't forget to tie in limited funds and resources.

Now how do you blend this all together to create a quality experience? What is the desired experience? What I may like could be far different than what you envision. Who is going to do the work? How will it be paid for? Fat tire biking will be part of the Master Trails Plan. Funding will have to be obtained to groom and manage trails but at what costs? Deciding what can happen and what will have to wait will be a difficult task and has yet to be determined. Fortunately there are people that are looking into the future to identify the best idea of what is needed.

One thing about fat tire biking and mountain biking in general is that just getting out and riding the bikes is so much fun that you tend to leave the world behind and let yourself enjoy the moment. Our ride was much like that. As we rode our excitement was more of that of children than adults. I hope that feeling never ends. I realize now that the toy box I had as a child is now called a garage.

Group rides

Beavers Sports Shop at the Best Western in Winter Park does a weekly group ride on Friday's at 6 p.m. (in the summer!). Intermediate and above skill level. Come join in! 970-726-5988

Looking for more information? Like Grand Mountain Bike Alliance (GMBA) on Facebook. GMBA is your local mountain bike group. Check out Mountainbikecapitalusa.com. Great site by the Winter Park Chamber!

Keith Sanders is the President of the Grand Mountain Bike Alliance, 3x US National Mountain Bike Champion and owner of Beavers Sports Shop. You can reach him at keith@winterparkskirental.com

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