If you are staying at Caribou Highlands and want to go fat tire biking, the Superior Cycling Association is there to help. They are working hard to make this section of the North Shore a winter fat tire mecca.

“The Superior Cycling Association is kind of the go to cycling organization in the county,” said Tim Kennedy of the Superior Cycling Association. “Last year we started opening trails at Pincushion Mountain for fat tire biking.”

The group is working to fill this need because they know there is a demand. Fat tire biking is growing fast in popularity, especially in the winter. The idea behind fat tires is simple; build a bike with really wide tires. Now people can cruise down winter trails that they couldn’t even bike at all before.

“There are so many more people who own fat bikes and know that winter riding is an alternative to putting the bike away for the winter,” said Tim.

The Superior Cycling Association gets permission from the US Forestry Department when making these trails. Last year the Forestry Department gave them permission to groom some trails for fat tire biking. But, they wanted the group to ease into this new venture and keep things low profile.

“This last year we groomed about 8 km but we weren’t really advertising it except through bike shops and word of mouth,” said Tim. “This year we will promote through the visitor centers that the trails are there.”

Besides the Pincushion Mountain endeavors, the association is working on adding many more miles to the sport of fat biking. They are currently working on a trail that will go from Cascade Lodge to Lutsen Ski Hill.

The Superior Cycling Association is about much more than just fat biking. They are working on building up to 120 miles of track in Cook County and they promote biking in general in the area. They just now have something to do in the winter.

The trails are not the only way to enjoy fat biking in the area, though probably this is the most accessible way of doing this. You can ride on city roads, where those big wide tires will help you when you hit a patch of ice or snow. Sometimes forest roads and logging roads are also suitable for fat biking. Occasionally, you can fat tire bike without any kind of manmade trails at all.

“Sometimes if the conditions are right and the snow firms up you can just go out anywhere,” said Tim. “Last year when we had all those icy conditions the crust on the snow got really heavy and you could go anywhere. It was like concrete on the top of the snowpack. People were just riding through the woods.”

What a rare treat that was to be able to go quickly into areas of the woods were people can’t usually go. You could go these places with snowshoes, but you would cover much less ground. In a sense the whole forest became a super highway.

The secret to success of the fat tire bikes is similar to that of skis and snowshoes. When you are riding on ice and snow it is good to spread your weight onto a larger surface area.

“That is the nature of fat biking, with the wide tires and the low pressure you can do things that you normally wouldn’t be able to do with a regular bike, ” said Tim.

People who just plain love biking will enjoy not having to switch gears when winter comes. They can leave the rack on the car and keep peddling. As a cycling enthusiast, Tim’s explanation for the popularity of fat bikes is simple.

“You get to ride in the wintertime,” said Tim. “You can keep biking.”



Photo credits

Fat Tire Biker by Visit Lakeland licensed under CC-BY-ND 2.0

Fat Tire Bike by Jereme Rauckman  licensed under CC BY 2.0