Trail grooming: bikers take the lead!

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Trail grooming: bikers take the lead!

Post by JeffOYB » Tue Mar 18, 2014 5:57 am

Skiers won't ski trails in lower Michigan.

Yet we have thousands of miles of diverse, scenic trails compared to under 20 mi's of grooming, all located near parking lots, golf courses or lift-served skiing.

The skiers stick strictly to skiing courses as distinct from trails: wide, groomed, bulldozed lanes.

However, mt-bikers will ski trails. Hundreds of them downstate have been doing so. I among them. (The mt-bikers will also occasionally ski the groomed courses.) We sometimes run into the problem of soft conditions and trail-breaking. It's its "own thing" but it can be burdensome.

Then there's the issue of multi-use. Trails often run for hundreds of miles on public land. Most trails are multi-use. We typically have good functioning etiquette in effect, where skiers stay to one side and other users stay off the ski tracks. Or the various users do try to keep a nice flat tread surface in play. Horse-riders stay off the packed tread when it's too soft for them, which is almost always. Runners do likewise: it's a big pain to run when it's soft, anyway.

FATBIKES are a new beast on the scene. I haven't seen much discussion here about them this season. But they have BOOMED. Right? (No posts about them in our Biking section, even.) I mean, they've grown far more and faster than XC skiing has, right? I guess that's natural coz it's new.

Anyway, I assume everyone is aware that there has also been FRICTION b/w Fatties and skiers. So now there's an official Fattie Etiquette Policy. They're trying to be Good Neighbors. Some skiers aren't satisfied, no matter what. They want bans. In general, the idea is to ride in a way and in snow conditions when you don't impair any other user. They've been far better at this than regular mt-bikes which would come out and SCALLOP up the trails from time to time. Fatties call it "pizza cuts," I think. They're doing education on tire width and pressures vs conditions.

But here's the "clincher":

Our local fatties have seized the initiative and commissioned a 30" flat trail groomer to be built. They've interacted with local state gov't people (DNR) and gotten permission to use a snowmobile in a popular SE MI park trail system. They've self-limited themselves to one good, sizable, challenging, scenic trail and they are now grooming it FOR MULTI-USE. So in this case the bikers are taking the lead for snowsport!

Now, they're setting a FLAT pathway and they've created signage about how to best use it. ...Who should use it at what temps and conditions. They say if it's done right their grooming can help: bikers, skiers, hikers, shoers, runners. They're working hard to find a way for everyone to get along. They then plan to branch out to other area parks and public "wild" trail systems. ...It's all still in testing, however. Verdict not in. But that's their campaign.

(Our local skiers have, however, funded a snowmaker and maybe also a big groomer for a local golf course and are being very pro-active in that locale, hosting the region's only major groomed race. They've volunteered a ton of resources into making it the area's HQ for groomed nordic and it's been a huge success with hundreds of racers coming out and thousands of users.)
Last edited by JeffOYB on Tue Mar 18, 2014 6:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Trail grooming: bikers take the lead!

Post by Burgesse » Tue Mar 18, 2014 6:11 am

As far as I am concerned that's good news, Jeff. As long as both bikers and skiers are reasonable they should get along.

We are in a small community, remote, with only a dozen or so fat bikers. I am now among them, and also groom our only skate trail. We have tried fatties twice so far on the groomed skate trail, and each time you could barely see where the bikes had passed.
As long as the trail is firm - like this time of year with thaw/freeze cycles - I think fat bikes and skiers will get along fine. Last weekend was perfect for biking and too icy for all but the really good skaters. The groomer was too lazy to get out to renovate the skate trail. :roll:

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