FAT TIRE bikes over the past few years have exploded in popularity, so much so they can no longer be called just a fad.
So what is the big deal?
A brief history: Fat tire bikes have evolved from long distance winter racing and riding around Alaska throughout the 1990’s and into 2000’s using mountain bikes creative cyclists began crafting ever wider rims and tires to give them more float and traction on the snow. Rim and tire sizes went from 2.75in to 3in to 4in up to 5in, bicycle companies began making mountain bike frames that would accommodate the larger wheels so by 2007 there were a few production model fat tire bikes available.
Today the fat tire bike phenomenon has exploded with communities all over the US and Canada creating fat tire specific trails in the winter time that are groomed and designated fat tire only trails. Marquette’s Noquemanon Trail Network (NTN) has 20+ miles of groomed fat tire bike trails, Boyne City, Crystal Mt., Tawas, Grayling, Travers City and other communities around Northern Michigan are all jumping on the band wagon and have created groomed trails. There are now winter time fat tire bike races almost every weekend throughout the winter “Great Lakes Fat Bike Series” www.greatlakesfatbikeseries.com and the “Michigan Fat Bike Series” www.funpromotions.com are hosting races; see web links for details.
Locally: As of last year TBTA members created a fat tire bike groomer from scratch and began experimenting with winter grooming behind the Aplex, ACC and Besser Company off of Woodward Ave. creating two .9 mile loops. They have perfected the grooming techniques and now with the additional snow machine purchased by TBTA intend to expand the groomed trail network to begin and end at Austin Brothers Beer Company parking lot with weekly group rides on Friday evenings.
This fall I have submitted a winter grooming plan to Blake Gingrich, Unit Supervisor MDNR-Parks and Rec. a written proposal for a groomed 12 mile fat tire bike trail out at Rockport using the trail system established for the Xtera Rugged Triathlon last summer. Communications as of Wednesday December 7th with Mr. Gingrich have been very positive as the MDNR acknowledges the popularity of the growing cycling segment and the potential for making Rockport a destination for a very unique winter trail system. The proposal has not yet been approved however in my conversation with Blake Gingrich he has indicated that the process is on going and he is very optimistic that at the very least some sort of temporary permit will be issued soon.