In the Fraser Valley, the time for fat tire bikes has arrived
November 20, 2014
The last set of snowstorms ended our mountain biking on dirt. At this point mountain biking can morph into many different forms.
There is the dream and fantasy of next summer's rides or escaping to the desert to get that trail fix. That is oftentimes accompanied by interludes across the internet looking at your favorite mountain biking sites and rides in distant places. Let's not forget searching your own photos with a bit of nostalgia of past rides and great places. There is every employer's favorite, the daydreaming at work, which may not be productive but most often more satisfying.
Then there is fat tire biking. Your riding doesn't have to end, it just needs to switch gears. Fat tire biking can extend your season to one of riding year-round. Let's face it, early season skiing is often not that good and has you thinking about doing something else to get outside and have some fun. Fat tire bikes are mountain bikes with very wide tires, 4 inches or more. These bikes can ride on packed snow and provide a great alternate activity to the normal winter adventures.
We have a lot of places to ride fat tire bikes. Once winter is in full swing any trails packed by snowmobiles make for a great ride. Cross country resorts such as Devils Thumb and Snow Mountain Ranch have great trails for fat tire bikes. Classic winter adventures can now include most of the Forest Service roads and ofte times your favorite summer trail. The Forest Service keeps some of the Elk Creek area roads open for Christmas tree cutting, which makes for a great ride, particularly in the early stages of winter. There are literally hundreds of miles of options for you.
These are a few of my favorite go to trails for the winter. Most often these are well packed with little mid-week traffic. You can find me a day or two after a storm on the east side of Fraser. My route takes me up County Road 8 to USFS Road 128 (this is where I was passed by a moose on the road last year). USFS Road 128 will eventually intersect with the Rollins Pass road (USFS 149). From there I turn down the Rollins Pass road and drop back into Idlewild via Crosstrails, which allows me to either head home by way of the Red Gate access or continue into the town of Winter Park.
Another option is on the west side of Winter Park and Fraser. I begin Winter Park and ride up Vasquez Road into the forest access. From there I turn west onto USFS Road 159, which will bring me to the Elk Creek road (USFS Road 158), dropping me back into Fraser.
Fat tire tips
Dress in layers. Just like summer riding you will sweat a bit on the climbs and need to stay warm on the descents. Booties over your cycling shoes are a must. You don't want to have cold feet halfway through the ride. Bring along something to cover your face, whatever you prefer skiing will work just fine.
Resist the temptation to head down a trail that hasn't been packed, you may not be able to ride in deep snow. Your fat tire bike does need a bit of compaction to ride well. You can climb very steep packed terrain as the wide tires give you amazing grip. Low tire pressure is very important. I run my tires around 8 psi.
I hope you get out on a fat tire bike. It can be a lot of fun and certainly a great alternative early season while we are waiting for more snow.
Beavers Sports Shop at the Best Western in Winter Park weekly group ride is now over for the season. Come join us this spring as soon as conditions will allow 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. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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