So you drank the Kool-Aid; you bought the fat bike, stoked with all the riding you’ll do this winter. Then, like anyone who has ever owned a fat bike, you tried it on your favourite trail system. And the conditions absolutely sucked. You couldn’t even get started because you couldn’t get any momentum. Your five-inch-wide tires sank into the snow and no amount of pushing, packing or pig-headed determination made a difference. And that’s when you realized: trails need to be groomed for fat bikes.
Words and photos: Colin Field
We’ve all done it. The simple fact is that snow needs to be just right for fat biking. Twelve inches of fresh is not necessarily a good thing. You need a hard packed surface somewhere below your tires to get moving. And that’s why some areas are grooming trails for fat bikes. These places offer just that.
SIMCOE COUNTY MOUNTAIN BIKE CLUB
“We groom out of the SteamWhistle Trailhead at Seventh Line and Bass Lake Road,” says SCMBC board member Wayne Kibbler. “The grooming is done on both the north and south side of the road and approximately 20 kilometres of groomed trails are maintained over the winter. Schedule of the grooming is dictated by the weather, but we do try to go over the track at least once a week and/or after each snowfall.” scmbc.ca
“Horseshoe will be offering 8.5 kilometres of groomed trail through the Copeland Forest similar to last season,” says Horseshoe’s cycle and ski pro Andrew Doble. “New this year is replacing a good chunk of the double track with singletrack for a more challenging ride. We also have Norco Bigfoot 6.2 bikes available for rental; a fleet of 13 of the adult ones and five of the 24-inch wheeled ones for the kids.” horseshoeresort.com
HARDWOOD SKI & BIKE
“We’ve partnered with Cannondale, so we have real fat bikes this year and we have eight of them,” says marketing manager Louise Jackson. “That’s huge for us. Monday to Friday you can ride them at Hardwood and you can come rent them and take them off-site on weekends. We’ll also deliver them too. We’re also creating a Wednesday night fat bike series, a ten-week series. And also new this year is they’ll be able to ride on the snowshoe trails which are basically our summer singletrack trails, just slightly modified. We have over 11 kilometres of singletrack then, plus you’ll be able to ride them on the ski trails. We have a lit-loop too, so that’s where the fat bike series will run. We just want it to be fun and relaxed. We’re also fully [liquor] licensed now, too.” hardwoodskiandbike.ca
“The last two winters we’ve been pulling two tires stacked on top of each other, with harnesses and snowshoes,” says former Durham Mountain Biking Association president John Fisher. “It was a good workout. The property is at the at the edge of Goodwood Road (Durham Road 21) and Concession 7 on the southeast corner. Everything else will not be groomed. We’ll probably have about ten kilometres done this winter and we’ll be grooming about once a week, or after snowfalls when possible.” durhammountainbiking.ca
OTTAWA’S SIR JOHN A. MACDONALD TRAIL
“The Ottawa region has several trail systems for fat biking,” says Sean Ralph, treasurer at the Ottawa Mountain Bike Association. “At present, only the SJAM trail is mechanically groomed for multi-use (skiing, fatbiking and snowshoe).” Running for about ten kilometres along the Rideau Canal, the trail runs from the War Museum to Westboro. While it’s double track, it’s a great way to see the nation’s capital. wintertrail.ca
And if that isn’t enough for you, join other fat bikers on the four-event series taking place throughout Ontario. Head over to substanceprojects.com for more info.
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