I love bikes. Almost any bike. You have probably figured that out by now. Which is why I am having such a hard time getting over my relationship with my fat bike. I’m just not giving it the love it needs, nor the respect it deserves. I think the real struggle is that while I love popping out on the neighborhood groomed trails when none of my friends can see me, mostly in disguise, I enjoy nordic skiing so much more. 99 times out of 100, I would rather be on skis if the conditions allow. When I am nordic skiing on groomed corduroy and I am confronted with riders on fat bikes leaving 3″ snake trails right down the middle, it really makes my blood boil. Sometimes I wish they never had been invented. Not the bikes, but the people who ride them.
Actually what I am doing is blaming a poor management plan of our local multi-use trail system, and then projecting that onto someone else. The truth is we have no management plan, it’s a work in progress, an experiment if you will. I call it a “Not-working In Progress.”
I recently got back from a trip to Jackson, WY and explored a multi-use U.S. Forest Service trail called Cache Creek. From the trailhead, it goes steadily uphill for a few miles, cat-groomed wide enough for skate skiing, with a classic track set on the side. Someone wiser than myself said recently in a discussion about nordic skier vs fat biker conflicts: if the folks who maintain our multi-use trails are not intentionally grooming for the nordic ski crowd, then why would they use a $100k snow cat with grooming implements that leaves a swath of corduroy and a classic track set on the side? Think about it. But I digress. Back to Cache Creek. There is a main artery of a trail that is shareable, for skaters, classic skiers, snowshoers, hikers, wolves chasing isolated elk, you name it. But off to the sides, there are clearly marked singletrack trails groomed for fat bikes. There are sticks with reflectors at intervals, presumably so you could navigate the trail at night with a good set of lights, but I wouldn’t because, you know, wolves. The point is, the dedicated trails looked awesome, mainly because they were intentional, and obviously managed. I would have ridden them if I had brought my fat bike, but I was on skis. In my mind that is the solution. In a way it is a not so much trail segregation, but trail specialization. What do you think?