Fat Bike Etiquette

Or, How to Make and Keep Friends on the Winter Trails

Winter Trails in CB are often just as multi-use as the Summer Trails. In summer you’ll see horses, hikers, runners, dogs, and mountain bikers on the trails. In winter, you’ll see cross-country skiers, runners, snowshoers, dogs, AT skiers, snowmobilers, and fat bikers out there. (Or should I say bikers on fat bikes? I don’t mean to cast aspersions about any rider’s size . . . ) With so many users enjoying our backcountry by so many modalities, the key to making and keeping friends out there is respect.

For fat bikes, there’s a few key things you can do to help improve your and others’ experience out there!

First off, let’s all try to keep the trails in good shape. Keep that tire pressure looooooooow. Like, 8 PSI. Of course it depends a little on your size (now I really am casting aspersions . . .) and the size of your tires, but if you’re leaving a trench in the trail, try lowering your air pressure, and if that doesn’t fix it, please stay off the trail. Ruts in the trail negatively impact the experience of everyone who comes after you. On that note, please stay off the classic track (2-track) so that skiers have an easier time recreating out there, too. Mud on your tires can also do some serious damage to the trail, so if you ride to the trailhead (Yes! Do this! Ride to the trailhead! Reduce your impact!) then please try to clean the dirt from your tires before hitting the snow.

Secondly, make friends out there! Let people know you’re coming when you’re headed up behind them. A bell, a hello, a “whoop whoop”–anything to give them a heads up you’re headed their way. Even fat bikes are surprisingly quiet to other users! On that note, slow down as you’re passing folks and give way to hikers/skiers when you can. Just like in summer, bikes yield to hikers and horses (I have yet to see a horse on a trail, but hey–you never know! Skijoring is a thing.) Be nice to the snowmobilers: they help us pack out and groom trails so we can ride fat bikes more places!

Finally, if you’re out there with your furry friends, please clean up after your dog. Almost nothing is more frustrating on the trails than a) riding through dog poop or b) riding past plastic baggie after baggie of dog poop. If you pack it up, pack it out! That plastic isn’t going to disappear on its own out there (or ever . . .).

Bottom line: be cool, Ringo! 

Have fun, watch your impacts on the trail, and be nice to other users. CB is still a small town after all, so we smile and wave to each other, even when we’re fat biking, even on the trails, even in winter. Now go ride your fat bike!