Have you tried fat tire biking in Salida? If not, you’re missing out! This winter sport has been growing in popularity as it gives mountain bikers even more of a chance to spend their time on trails. Unlike regular mountain bikes, fat bikes have wider, oversized tires that are inflated to a lower pressure. The combination of width and low pressure makes it easier for the tires to get traction and for the bike to “float” on top of the snow. With fat biking, you’ll get to enjoy the beautiful backcountry while also getting an incredible workout. You’ll find a variety of trails that are perfect for fat biking in and around Salida, whether you’re new to the sport or you’ve been fat biking for years. We’ve put together a quick guide to winter fat biking in Salida so you can get right to the fun as soon as you get into town.
What to Know Before You Head Out
The Conditions Will Affect Your Experience: “You will more than likely run the gamut of emotions your first season of winter riding. You’ll find conditions you love, and some that you hate. A couple of inches of fresh snow will make you feel like you have stumbled on the greatest sport ever, while 5+ inches of snow will leave you questioning your sanity (probably). The deep powder combined with the terrain underneath gets the bike squirrely pretty quick. Be patient, and take your time. And always, be careful of ice, especially in the corners. Snow that has been on the ground for a few days will more than likely have frozen patches.” – Jonathan Watson, Out There Colorado
Opt for Flat Pedals: “Once you stop and place your foot in the snow or hike-a-bike (which you will do), you will have a hard time getting your cleat back into your pedal. Ride with flats! This also allows you to wear hiking boots (high top, waterproof) and can save you from buying specific winter riding boots.” – BendTrails
Keep Your Feet Warm and Dry: “There is no substitute for warm, snug toes on a winter ride. You don’t need to invest in special riding shoes as long as you have well-insulated, waterproof shoes and wear thick insulated socks, but there are several excellent shoes and boots designed for snow riding.” – Sean McNally, Live Outdoors
Find the Right Combination of Clothes: “Wear clothing appropriate for temperatures 10° to 15°F warmer. ‘You’re working so hard riding on snow that it’s not difficult to stay warm—you’re burning up to 1,500 calories per hour,’ says Mike Curiak, record holder for the 1,000-mile Iditasport Impossible. ‘It sounds crazy, but you can overheat even in the dead of winter. Sweaty clothing can also set the stage for hypothermia. Dress in layers that you can peel off as you warm up, and skip cotton (which retains moisture) in favor of merino wool or synthetic fleece (which wicks it away).” – Cristina Goyanes, Men’s Health
Follow Trail Best Practices: “Fat bikers are the new kids on the winter trails and we need to be careful how and when we ride. IMBA recently published a list of Fat Bike (Winter Mountain Biking) Best Practices. The one that I would like to highlight is that you should stay off from groomed trails if you are leaving a rut that is deeper than 1 inch. When deep ruts refreeze it is really hard to fix them with the grooming equipment. Trail coordinators spend a lot of time and money grooming so please respect their work.” – Fat Tire Tracks
Finding a Good Snow Biking Trail
“Near … Salida, Colorado, the best places to fat bike on snow are indeed snowmobile trails. The local groups even post online grooming reports to keep snowmobilers up to date on snowfall amounts, trail hazards, and the last time the trails were groomed with a snowcat. – Greg Heil, Singletracks
In addition, snowshoeing and hiking/biking trails are also good options. Old Monarch Pass is a popular choice among snowmobilers, snowshoers, and cross-country skiers. As a result, the conditions are usually just right for fat bikes. The trail isn’t very long and after a gradual climb, you’ll be treated to panoramic mountain views.
In Salida, if the conditions are right, both the Arkansas Hills and Methodist Mountain Trail Systems offer some great opportunities for winter biking (and fantastic views, too). There are trails for all abilities on both systems and it’s easy to mix and match trails if you’re interested in extending your ride. However, if you are considering riding one of these trail systems, keep in mind that the snow usually doesn’t stick around for too long. So, you’ll probably need to act fast if you experience these trails by way of fat bike.
Take a Guided Fat Bike Tour
If you don’t want to head out on your own, why not take a guided fat bike tour? Absolute Bikes Adventures offers guided rides that can last anywhere from one to five hours. They have several rides to choose from “starting with the S-Mountain trails. Right out the back door these will combine some dirt with the snow. (1-4 hours.) Next up is Marshall Pass Rd. Climb to the pass or part way it’s up to you. The best parts are the views of the Sangre de Cristos on the way back down. Or, connect to Poncha Creek Rd. for a 21 mile loop. (2-5 hours.). St Elmo would be a great starting point for a ride out to Hancock and back. (2-3 hours.) [You can] customize your ride. As long as there is no avalanche danger any of our guides are able to show you the way in the snow.”
Participate in a Fat Bike Race
The more competitive and experienced among you might want to consider taking part in the Great Divide Grinder. This race is typically held at the end of March. Participants gather at Monarch Mountain before the lifts open to the public and then they set off on a seven-mile course that includes 2,000 feet of vertical climbing. It’s definitely a race that’s best suited for those who have spent plenty of time on a fat bike riding in different conditions.
Find Lodging for Your Fat Tire Bike Adventure
If you need somewhere to hang your hat while you hit the trails atop a fat bike, Creekside Chalets and Cabins is a great choice. We’re located just minutes from Monarch Mountain, Salida, and many of the area trails. Our one- to three-bedroom cabins have all the comforts of home and then some. Feel free to take a look at our cabins online or give us a call at (719) 539-6953.