Big Wheels Keep on Turning
Don’t put away the bikes this year, MVSTA is opening up selected ski trails to bicycles! Fat bikes that is.
What are fat bikes, or snow bikes as they are also called? Fat bikes are specially-made bicycles that accommodate ultra-wide tires that can be run at very low pressure. The combination of very wide tires and less than ten pounds of pressure allow fat bikes to roll over soft, slippery surfaces like snow.
Fat bikes are one of the fastest growing segments of the bicycle industry. They provide a great way for cyclists to stay in shape during the winter season. Here in the Methow, our winter season can be longer than all other seasons combined. A new, exciting way to get outside and recreate is always welcome here. Simply bundle up like you would for skiing and get out and ride. No waxing required, and for the passionate cross-country skier, it provides another way to cross-train.
Steve Mitchell, an avid snow biker, describes the thrill of riding his fat bike in the winter this way, “Riding on snow has been a great alternative to my other winter love…… Nordic skiing. There are days when the snow has set up just right, so hopping on the snow bike has been a great way to mix up the winter activities. There’s an amazing sensation when you climb aboard a snow bike and find that you “can” ride where only skiers or snowmobilers had once been able to go!”
While the Methow Valley has many passionate fat bike riders, this is the first year MVSTA has piloted a few trails to fat bikes. This will be a pilot program with selected trails open at selected times depending on snow conditions. The ski trail conditions will still remain as our top priority. We are planning to allow Fat Bikes every day of the week at Big Valley provided that snow conditions will support their use without damage to the trail. Fat bikes will also be allowed on Bitterbrush and Barsley trails in Winthrop, Thompson Ridge Road and MeadowLark on Sun Mountain and Gunn Ranch Road and Grizzley Loop in the Rendezvous. Fat Bikers must check the grooming report daily to assure these trails are currently open and available for riding.
These locations will be assessed on a day by day, snow conditions, user compatibility basis. Information on what trails are open to fat bikes will be available daily on our MVSTA grooming report. Just like a skier, a valid MVSTA day pass will be required for snow bikes at all locations except for Big Valley.
Joe Brown, owner of Methow Cycle and Sport in Winthrop shares, “We are really excited that MVSTA has made the initial decision to open up some of the trail system to fat bikes. It’s a natural progression that we should take advantage of and support. So many areas in the Midwest and Alaska have seen fat bike usage exponentially increase over the last several years and have successfully integrated bikes, Nordic skiing and snowmobiling. Many cross country skiers are also mountain bikers so this will really provide a great opportunity to combine skiing and riding interests throughout the winter months.”
“I remember the first time I saw and then rode a fat bike. I thought it looked cumbersome, unwieldy and heavy. I was completely blown away once I started riding however. The floatation of the tires and efficiency of the bike was phenomenal—I was able to ride on the same terrain that I used in the summer months without losing traction or momentum. On top of that, the tire tracks stayed on top of the snow with less impact than a set of skis! I think once people allow themselves to try it, they will be hooked—so much fun!
Fat bikes are available for rent at Methow Cycle and Sport located in Winthrop. Check out methowcyclesport.com for rental rates, ride suggestions, current conditions and general information about winter riding. Reservations are recommended for weekends and holidays. Methow Cycle and Sport will also provide rack adaptors for customers that wish to transport rental fat bikes to the riding area of their choice.
To ensure this year’s pilot program is successful we ask that fat bike riders carefully read and follow these conditions of use:
Winter Fat Bike Riding
Conditions of Use
- All riders need to purchase a trail pass and please tell the ticket vendor that you are planning on fat biking.
- Trail access is dependent on conditions. Please check the daily grooming report for detailed trail access information. www.mvsta.com/grooming.html
- Purpose built snow bikes only! Both tires must be wider than 3.7” and tire pressure must be less than 10 psi, no exceptions!
- Bikes yield to all other users. Stay to right side of trail at all times, stay out of the classic ski tracks, and give skate skiers a wide berth.
- Please stay off trails with more than 3” of new snow.
- If you are leaving a rut deeper than an inch, having a hard time riding in a straight line, or pushing your bike, the snow is too soft and you absolutely should not be biking on the trails.
- Be an ambassador for the sport – stay polite, educate other bikers, discourage bad behavior, follow the rules, and we’ll all have a good time this winter.
- If you are riding on a free trail (like Big Valley) please consider becoming a member of MVSTA.
Fat biking next winter depends on how things go this year so spread the word about fat biking, make it fun, and keep it safe.
Maps to each of the Fat Biking locations: Fat bike routes are highlighted in orange.
Two free fat bike demos hosted by Methow Cycle and Sport are scheduled for December 23 and January 13 from 9:00am - 1:00pm at the Winthrop Town Trailhead. Call Methow Cycle and Sport for more information, 509-996-3645.
Thanks to these partners for allowing fat bike access on their land.