Steamboat riders aren’t just restricted to biking in summer anymore. The new craze of fat bikes has hit town in force, opening up countless new snow-riding options in the wintertime.
“Steamboat’s perfect for it,” says local Robert Orr, who competed in Idaho’s 200-kilometer-long Fat Pursuit Race through Yellowstone this year. “We get great snow and have great terrain for it that’s not too steep or rocky.”
Fat bike retailers like Orange Peel Bicycle Service, Ski Haus and Wheels reported record rentals over the winter, as a subpar snow year proved perfect for fat bike pedaling.
“It’s fun and different,” says Moots President Butch Boucher. “Our guys like to ride the single track they ride in the summer. Plus, it’s super accessible here, and the equipment keeps getting better; five-inch-wide tires work great in the snow.”
This winter, Routt County Riders purchased a snowmobile-towed trail-groomer to create flow trails on Emerald meadows, which were frequented by fat bike aficionados all season. A series of local events also put fat biking in the limelight. Hahns Peak Roadhouse in North Routt hosted a fun fat bike race around Steamboat Lake in February and Catamount Ranch & Club held a fat bike race series for the second straight year to terrific turnout.
“A lot of people showed up for them,” says organizer Kevin Kopischke, whose Fat Cat Full Moon Snowbike Race Series drew riders to the club’s Nordic tracks. Luring everyone from hardcore mountain bikers to fat tire novices, the races were 9 miles long and included sections of uphill single track interspersed with Nordic trail riding.
“It’s all about having fun, and it’s certainly gaining momentum,” he says. “We want to grow the sport here — it fits perfectly into our active lifestyles, and we have perfect terrain and snow for it.”
Where to go
- Lake Catamount Touring Center: Open to fat bikes with restrictions; trail fee required ($20 for adults); rentals available ($25).
- Steamboat Ski Area: Open to fat bikes with restrictions; closed during normal hours of operations; use only routes identified by the resort.
- Steamboat Ski Touring Center: Fat bikes not allowed.
- Howelsen Hill Nordic Center: Open to fat bikes with restrictions; trail fee required; trails closed to fat bikes from 2 to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and during Nordic events.
- Elsewhere: Fat bikes are allowed on all other city trails not groomed for Nordic skiing. Hotspots include Blackmer Drive and the mountain bike trails of Emerald Mountain.
Fat bike do’s and don’ts
- Groomed trails should not be ridden if: 1) you’re leaving a tire rut deeper than 1 inch or cannot ride in a straight line; 2) your bike tires are narrower than 3.7 inches and tire pressure is greater than 10 psi.
- Yield to all other users; ride in control; don’t ride in classic tracks; and ride on the most firm part of the track.