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  1. #1
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    Grooming for fatbikes

    Our trail system has been considering introducing fat biking into the mix this winter. I thought I'd simply groom the trails by packing in some trails with snowshoes and encouraging snowshoeing on those trails. Is it any more involved than that?

  2. #2
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    As far as singletrack goes, snowshoers are a fat biker's best friend. Our snow is super dry and usually ready to ride after a day of sun and a little shoe traffic. Works even better when somebody else does it for you too. Our other trails are all groomed with big snow cats. Stay away from steep uphills unless its super short.

  3. #3
    YRG
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    Quote Originally Posted by zaab70 View Post
    Our trail system has been considering introducing fat biking into the mix this winter. I thought I'd simply groom the trails by packing in some trails with snowshoes and encouraging snowshoeing on those trails. Is it any more involved than that?
    Why would you groom for a fatbike. If you groom, then you can ride a mountain bike and you don't need a fatbike.

  4. #4
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    Thanks leadvegas. We have some favorable grades so this should work well. I can't wait for the snow to give this a try.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by YRG View Post
    Why would you groom for a fatbike. If you groom, then you can ride a mountain bike and you don't need a fatbike.
    I don't have any first hand experience, but I got the impression that fatbikes need a little help from snowshoe or snowmobile tracks. I could be wrong.

  6. #6
    memento mori
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    I've heard of guys on snow shoes dragging weighted sleds to pack the trails down.

  7. #7
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  8. #8
    Cleavage Of The Tetons
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    Quote Originally Posted by YRG View Post
    Why would you groom for a fatbike. If you groom, then you can ride a mountain bike and you don't need a fatbike.
    Where do you live?
    It must not snow much there.
    "We LOVE cows! They make trails for us.....

    And then we eat them."

  9. #9
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    I'm not that ambitious...but there's a regular rider up the way who runs dogsledding tours and'll earn a lifetime membership and some beer if he brings the team down to sled the trails a few times this winter.

  10. #10
    YRG
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    Quote Originally Posted by rideit View Post
    Where do you live?
    It must not snow much there.
    We get about 400" a year but, I was kinda being a smartass. But around here we groom trails for skiing and if you want to ride a bike, you just ride on the groomed trail. Regular bikes are fine. So if you were to ride a fat bike, it seems you should be blazing trail. Not that it matters cause I think wheels are silly for snow, I spend my time on classic skis, skate skis, alpine skis, and backcountry skis (or snowboards) and only when I feel like doing something slow and silly do I ride a bike on snow. I do have friends who say they can dig trenches railing turns on their dh bikes going down runs on the resorts. That sounds good, but I know it's still slower than skiing.

  11. #11
    Cleavage Of The Tetons
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    Quote Originally Posted by YRG View Post
    We get about 400" a year but, I was kinda being a smartass. But around here we groom trails for skiing and if you want to ride a bike, you just ride on the groomed trail. Regular bikes are fine. So if you were to ride a fat bike, it seems you should be blazing trail. Not that it matters cause I think wheels are silly for snow, I spend my time on classic skis, skate skis, alpine skis, and backcountry skis (or snowboards) and only when I feel like doing something slow and silly do I ride a bike on snow. I do have friends who say they can dig trenches railing turns on their dh bikes going down runs on the resorts. That sounds good, but I know it's still slower than skiing.
    Yeah, 400" is barely a squall.
    So sorry.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by zaab70 View Post
    I don't have any first hand experience, but I got the impression that fatbikes need a little help from snowshoe or snowmobile tracks. I could be wrong.
    You're right. Snowshoe tracks work OK but are bumpy and can be a bit narrow after a few significant dumps. Riding in the trench is not as much of a problem as pedal strikes on the walls. Dragging weighted sleds definitely improves the 'tread'.

    Timing is everything. I keep a stretch of singletrack packed from my house to a snowmobile trail and try to get on it on days above freezing so that it hardens up at night. It really takes multiple passes of stomping - more people help. Likewise people riding when it's soft can rut it out and make all your work freeze to crap.

    Packing by riding only works when there's just a few inches of snow. Really, more than 4" or so is pretty hard to plow through when it's our typical New England density. Park City conditions have no bearing on what you have in VT.

    Best wishes. Love your network!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Grooming for fatbikes-pugs-pale-ale-1-11-13-medium-.jpg  

    Grooming for fatbikes-pugs-sunny-track-1-18-13-medium-.jpg  


  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by YRG View Post
    We get about 400" a year but, I was kinda being a smartass. But around here we groom trails for skiing and if you want to ride a bike, you just ride on the groomed trail. Regular bikes are fine. So if you were to ride a fat bike, it seems you should be blazing trail. Not that it matters cause I think wheels are silly for snow, I spend my time on classic skis, skate skis, alpine skis, and backcountry skis (or snowboards) and only when I feel like doing something slow and silly do I ride a bike on snow. I do have friends who say they can dig trenches railing turns on their dh bikes going down runs on the resorts. That sounds good, but I know it's still slower than skiing.
    Apples & oranges. In New England, when the skiing becomes bulletproof boilerplate the fat biking gets really good. True that you can still skate ski on the groomers (and many of us do), but the biking can get magical. And regular mtn bikes, even with 2.5" tires, do not compare with fat bikes. Fatties turn marginal conditions into sweet velvet.

  14. #14
    zrm
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    We have groomed Nordic areas here but they don't allow wheels on the trails (which as a nordic skier I totally support) Many of the trails that we ride in the summer get lots of snowshoe and XC ski traffic and we see some fat bike traffic but 1) The trails stay pretty narrow, if it's just a ski track it will usually be very narrow. 2) If it's been snowing a lot the trail will stay quite soft and even with the big tires, fat bikes will get mired in the snow. 3) Fat bikes make a mess of ski tracks which doesn't make fat bikes very popular with skiers (who are very often cyclists but don't like seeing the ski track trashed).

    Around here Snowmobile trails are usually the best bet for fat bikes.

  15. #15
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    Skiers haven't used our trails for years, so they're lowest on the totem pole if they do come. Snowshoeing is picking up. Given our frequent snows, it will be a challenge to keep anything fat bikeable, but I'd like to play around with it nevertheless.

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    Thanks Radair! I'm planning on working on some signage this winter anyway so I thought I'd take a two birds with one stone approach. I'm not quite committed enough to drag heavy sleds with me, but the landowner always has fanatical ultra endurance athletes training on the mountain who carry heavy objects as part of their regimen. They'd be more than happy to do it. I might suggest it to the landowner.

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    Snowshoe grooming works really well. Our local trail system (urban park really) gets a lot of foot and snowshoe traffic and over the past couple years the number of fatbikes has exploded. The trail gets a lot of traffic by bikes daily which helps keep it groomed. It turns into a really fun flowy pump track like experience.

    What we did do last year was organize a snowshoe night when we were to receive a very heavy, wet dump of snow rapidly in one afternoon. About 6-7 of us left the bikes at home, brought our headlamps and a few wobbly pops and stomped out the tracks over a couple hours. I even built a pulk sled with pull poles to try to finish up the grooming (damn thing kept flipping over on me though). The temperatures dropped overnight and the tracks setp nicely and were awesome the next day.

  18. #18
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    We're having a 300 person snowshoe race in March and there should be some primo tracks to follow after that. Too bad there's nothing earlier though.

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    While riding works to pack down trails after small snowfalls, bigger snowfalls require some extra help. One of the techniques used up here on the singletrack is to drag weighted car tires. They help to give a good tread width on the trail and leave it fairly smooth. You can either drag them on foot or pull behind a snowmachine (snowmobile in the lower-48 I am told.... ). Hook up a shot stick (cut off hockey stick works well) and tie a sling from that to the tires and go for a hike.

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    SHHH... just bought my wife a pair... Marquette Backcountry Ski I've had mine since last year... told her it's all about having more us time while we exercise.. little does she know that she will be helping pack down the local singletrack, for my fatbiking the next day...

    if I had a younger kid.. I'd be getting him out there on one of these..


    Google Image Result for http://www.snowgoer.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Kitty-Cat.jpg

  21. #21
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    Snowshoeing can be hard work. To get any kind of distance, I think the snowbike future has to be a machine groomed trail. Which means considering trail width, potential groomer obstacles, and what such a trail would be like to ride in Summer.

    A snowmobile from the 1970's would be much more narrow than those made today.... I don't own a fatbike, and am considering them but keep coming back to the grooming issue. Relying on snowshoes is a leap of faith.

    There used to be a motorcycle type snow machine, that may be the ticket. Don't remember what those machines are called.

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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by cjohnson View Post
    Snowshoeing can be hard work. To get any kind of distance, I think the snowbike future has to be a machine groomed trail. Which means considering trail width, potential groomer obstacles, and what such a trail would be like to ride in Summer.

    A snowmobile from the 1970's would be much more narrow than those made today.... I don't own a fatbike, and am considering them but keep coming back to the grooming issue. Relying on snowshoes is a leap of faith.

    There used to be a motorcycle type snow machine, that may be the ticket. Don't remember what those machines are called.
    It wasn't the Rocon you were thinking of was it? 2 wheel drive mini-bike. I haven't seen one in years but those things will go anywhere and have a tire about as wide as an ATV tire.

    Edit: It appears they still make them.

    Rokon 2-Wheel Drive Motorcycles
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  24. #24
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    do a search on you tube for diy snowmobiles.. there are a lot of things out there, that your local group might be able to piece together... I am currently trying to more info for something like this..
    homemade snowmobile / tracked vehicle / lumihärveli 4 - YouTube

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