With more and more Nordic ski centers opening to fat bikes, can lift-served winter downhills be far behind?
At Rikert Nordic Center, high in the Breadloaf Wilderness near Middlebury Mike Hussey is gearing up for winter. He’s cleaned fallen trees from October’s windstorm, has snowguns ready to blast out a 5k loop of manmade and is ready for the fifth annual FatBike Round-Up on December 9—a day of group rides, cookouts, and camaraderie.
“Fat biking might be the perfect shoulder season — it really doesn’t matter if we have snow or not,” says Hussey. Rikert is one of a growing number of Nordic centers that are welcoming fat bikes to their trails. “Honestly, as long as the snow is hard, the tires don’t damage the trails. We’ve found fat bikes and Nordic skiers go about the same speed and honesly, fat bikes take up less room on the trails than skate skiers,” Hussey explains. All 55 km of Rikert’s terrain are now open all season to both, with another 10 km of groomed singletrack and Rikert has a small rental fleet.
Trapp Family Lodge’s Nordic Center in Stowe has been one of the hosts of the January Überwintern, a festival of fat tire fun that’s returning for its fourth year on January. 7.
Over at Woodstock Inn’s Nordic Center, Nick Mahood is also looking to build up the fat bike scene. This season will see a reprise of the “Fat Tuesday” night rides—group rides for all abilities, featuring head lamps and a casual dinner after— and Fatstock, formerly a race, will be a full-on festival this season, held on Feb. 25. Nordic Center director, Nick Mahood is also excited about plans to groom three or four of the Center’s 8 miles of singletrack for fat biking this winter and to build out mountain bike trails on nearby Suicide Six in time for the 2018 summer season.
In Killington, Alpine Bike Works, which operates the winter Fat Bike Vermont rental program is working with both the Mountain Meadows XC Center and Killington Resort to build out a network of groomed singletrack. “We just see this growing and growing,” says owner Tony Accurso.
And in what may be the biggest news of all, Killington Resort is considering a plan to add lift-served fat biking. The resort has already built out more than 29 miles of trails served by three lifts in the summer and may offer lift-served this winter. Stay tuned.