We've been grooming and getting your trails ready for a big winter of fat biking! As more and more snow flies, it's the perfect time to look at our trail etiquette ahead of a fun season of riding groomed trail networks all over Northern Michigan!
We are looking a long and snowy winter for 2017-2018, and the base we created now is what we'll be riding on through February and perhaps into March! We've put together a refresher course on basic trail etiquette to take care of the trails and help all trail users have a great experience. The effort to protect and maintain impeccable riding conditions starts right now, and your efforts are just as important as those of our brave, handsome groomers.
First, we can't stress enough how important it is to get your grooming badge. Not only does it help us fund grooming efforts, it's a vital link to almost daily updates to trail conditions. We can let you know what the grooming plan for the day is, when the ideal time to ride might be, and if there are hazards or weather conditions that make riding inadvisable. Warm days that are above freezing for long periods can cause soft, melting snow; the rut you make can freeze, making it dangerous and not very fun for others.
Checking the grooming report and the weather is really the first steps. Check your gear is the second. The Winter Sports Singletrack, Cadillac Pathways, Glacial Hills and Leelanau State Park are groomed for fat bikes with tires 3.8" or wider. Narrower tires, even at very low pressures, can dig in and cause deep grooves that our equipment just can't fix, and therefore, are not allowed on the trails.
Even with your big fat tires, there's still a chance of digging in. We recommend riding at 4 psi in most conditions; there is never a reason to be at over 5 psi. Not only will you float over the snow better and reduce your impact on the trail, you'll also find it to offer much better handling and a smoother ride.
Reducing your footprint, literally, is another great effort to make. If you have to walk for any reason, try to stay off the trail. If you see a classic track set for skiing, don't ride or walk in it. Instead, try to get to the far side of the trail and walk with your bike to the inside, or groomed, part of the path.
Keep your head up and your ears open. The trail is multi-directional, and especially on tight and twisting sections of the Winter Sports Singletrack, it may be hard to spot oncoming traffic. Additionally, communicate overtaken riders early and politely. If someone wants to get by you, it's often easiest to just hop off into the snow, wave, and let them get through where it's both safe and convenient.
Finally, make smart decisions. Especially when riding alone or in the dark, let someone know when you're going out to ride and when you expect to be done and out of the woods. It's very hard to get lost on groomed trails, but there is always a risk of losing your way, having mechanical trouble, or experiencing a medical issue. Have a plan to get out, and consider bringing food, extra warm clothes, and your cell phone.
This winter riding thing is a lot of fun, but it's important that we all practice good etiquette and take steps to make sure it's enjoyable for everyone and safe all season long! Questions? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll help with all things fat bike.