Fat Bike Season Is Here: Go Explore

1472903_10151662273806685_501521457_n From racing to riding to exploring like never before, fat bikes open up the winters of Northern Michigan like nothing else. Armed with a pack, provisions and a steely will to explore, fat bikes ventured into the heart of the Pere Marquette forest last winter on a massive scale. And that's only going to happen more this season.

From the Pugsley to the Mukluk to a carbon Beargrease, get the most out of your fat bike by simply knowing when and where to ride. Trail etiquette is a big deal, and the fat bike community prides itself as be the most friendly, courteous and supportive winter sports group. We're asking that all fat bikers adhere to some basic gentlemen's rules.

If trail conditions are bad, ride somewhere else. Fat Bike Fridays are giving fat bikers a chance to prove that fat bikes make no negative impacts on groomed trails under good conditions. If the temperature is high, the snow wet and slushy, or simply not bomb-proof, stay off. While fat bikers have every right to ride the 25km loop year-round, every day of the week, let's try to prove it won't be a problem by only riding on the Vasa on Fridays when the timing is right. You can support Fat Bike Fridays and TART by purchasing a $25 grooming badge here. 

The rest of the Fat Bike Friday rules go without saying: don't ride in the classic tracks, have your tire pressure under 8psi, go clockwise on the 10km and 25km, and look out for skiers.

The Vasa Singletrack is open to ride 7 days a week. There is a solid group dedicated to snowshoeing the short loop, and we are hoping to have more of it open and rideable. It's a beautiful jaunt through the woods and well-worth the trip out.

Timber Ridge is our home away from home. We have a whole fleet of fat bikes to rent, and you can bring your own to do some laps when you get a pass. Stop by, enjoy the fireplace, have some hot chocolate and chat. It's the perfect fat bike headquarters.

There are a ton of other great places to ride, too. The State Hospital trails are awesome because there is so much foot traffic during the day that it's almost perfectly groomed by the late afternoon. Especially if you go at night, you can ride a few hours in the dark and never see a walker. Same goes for the early morning. The trails are steep and challenging, but you can get in a great workout in an hour or so, and it's a short ride over if you live in town. If you go during the weekend, watch out for walkers and folks on snowshoes. Slapping a bell on your bike isn't a bad idea, and you look cool when you stop for hot cocoa on the way back.

Another route that is going to rock your world is the Leelanau Trail to Suttons Bay. Hop on for the 15 mile jaunt up to Suttons Bay and cap off your effort with a coffee and croissant at 9 Bean Rows before heading back. It's one of the most beautiful winter rides out there. The orchards and vineyards, even bare and black, look like a million lines on a white blanket.

We'll have a whole bunch of group rides, too, so keep your eyes on the Calendar.