The snow is flying early in Northern Vermont, and, along with getting the snow tires on the car, it’s time to dust off the fatbike. Fatbikes are a great choice for year-round mountain biking, but they truly shine in the snow - they can take you places you never thought possible on two wheels. However, they do have their limitations. Sometimes the snow is a bit too deep or the sand is a little too soft and your go-anywhere machine comes to a grinding halt. Luckily, there are a ton of networks in the area that offer fatbike-specific groomed trails.
How does this grooming get done? Some riding areas, like Randolph, Brewster River, Richmond Mountain and Millstone have invested in grooming equipment like the SnowDog, a machine that lays down perfect packed singletrack through the snowy trails. This doesn’t happen by magic. Usually a group of dedicated volunteers who love having fun trails in their local riding area will spend many hours grooming the trails. Many of these groups are actively raising funds for one of these machines, like this initiative in Hinesburg. If you have the means, it’s worth chipping in on one of these for your local area!
Looking for a mid-week meet-up of the fat-minded? Catamount Outdoor Center in Williston hosts after-dark group rides on their groomed trails in Williston on Wednesdays at 6pm. Though some of the trails are lighted, you’ll need to find a helmet or bar-mounted light that will illuminate the trail. This is a great way to get acclimated to fat biking, as Catamount offers fat bike rentals and the rides can be catered to those who are new to the experience. At the end of the night there’s even a crackling fire to warm your toes!
In Randolph, RASTA (Rochester/Randolph Area Sports Trail Alliance) will be grooming some of the Ellis town forest and Braintree Hill trails. They’ll also be working with the Brunswick School (old Stock Farm) to groom some of their trails. All pertinent information will be up on their Facebook page once they are ready. Stay tuned!
For a far-flung adventure in the Northeast, head to Kingdom Trails in East Burke. You’ll find about 25 miles of groomed singletrack in the Darling Hill area. They are hosting a couple fatbike-centric events this winter. If you’re looking to try fatbiking, check out Resolve to Revolve Fat Bike Demo on New Year’s Day. In March, don’t miss the 8th annual Winterbike - a winter fat bike love-fest.
Another upcoming fat bike event is the Uberwintern Fat Bike Festival in Stowe on January 5. It’s a fat-bike party, and, well, there ain't no party like a fat bike party.
You can always check with Fellowship of the Wheel on trail conditions in Chittenden County for Winter riding opportunities. Also, don’t forget that Old Spokes Home has a variety of fatbikes from Salsa and Surly, as well as a wealth of knowledge and experience on fat bike set-up and repair. Come see us!
Written by Sean Melinn