State of Fat Bike Access


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Presentation at the 2013 Fat Bike Winter Summit by Gary Sjoquist, QBP.

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State of Fat Bike Access

  1. 1. Fat Bike Summit and FestivalIsland Park, IDJan. 25, 2013Event Co-Hosts:Gary Sjoquist, Quality Bicycle ProductsScott Fitzgerald, Fitzgerald’s Bicycles 2013 Fat Bike Summit and Festival 1
  2. 2. Thank You Sponsors!• Presenting Sponsors – Surly, Salsa Cycles• 100mm Sponsors – IMBA, Fat-Bike.Com, Q-Outdoors• 80mm Sponsors – Adventure Cycling Association, BicyclArt• 65mm Sponsors – 45NRTH, 9:ZERO:7, BikeFlights, Grand Targhee Resort, Revelate Designs, Snake River Brewing• Fat Friend Sponsors – Old Town Coffee 2013 Fat Bike Summit and Festival 2
  3. 3. Today’s Conversation• Introductions of Co-Hosts• Fat Bike Use and Growth• Industry Perspective on Fat Bikes• Economic Impacts• Where Fat Biking is Working• Challenges for Fat Bike Access 2013 Fat Bike Summit and Festival 3
  4. 4. Fitzgeralds Bicycles• Mission Driven to grow Cycling• Never a ski shop• History of District 33 Grooming Sticker program• Desire to have the tough conversations aboutaccess before the numbers of users got too bigand the pressure grew to great• We are in a unique area with many different land managementorganizations: USFS, National Parks, State Parks and Rec, Nordic Centers,Community Non-Profits.• Best Fat Bike riding in the Country?
  5. 5. Fat Bike SummitHistory• 2012 - 1st Annual Event• OutcomesGoals• Expansion to “Festival”• Education and awareness• Highlight success stories of Fat Bike use• Develop clear understanding of pathahead for increased access• Build a toolbox for other Fat Bikeadvocates around the Country to engagetheir local land managers.
  6. 6. Areas of Concern•Safety•Disruption of trail quality•Cost Sharing
  7. 7. Quality Bicycle Products• Nation’s largest distributor of bike parts• Locations in MN, UT, PA• 700 employees/36,000 parts – Ship 10,000 boxes UPS on a busy day (all locations)• Sjoquist is Advocacy Director for QBP• QBP brands Salsa and Surly include fat bikes – Pugsley and Moonlander are Surly – Beargrease and Mukluk are Salsa 2013 Fat Bike Summit and Festival 7
  8. 8. Industry Perspective• Much like mid-80s mountain bikes, technology driving fat bike development and design• Apparel and accessories markets growing• New races and events every year in all regions• Retailers discovering winter markets• Summer use growing, too• Fat bikes becoming lighter/tires wider 2013 Fat Bike Summit and Festival 8
  9. 9. Sub-25 Pound Fat Bike 2013 Fat Bike Summit and Festival 9
  10. 10. Industry Perspective, cont.• Industry having problem meeting demands• From MN retailer FreeWheel Bike in Mpls (who has launched their own fat bike frame company because getting frames is so difficult) : “Daily we have to say no to dozens of customers asking for parts that can’t be had anywhere. Everything Fatbike is just in really tight supply. For the 3rd year in a row, demand has far, far, outstripped everyone’s forecasts.” 2013 Fat Bike Summit and Festival 10
  11. 11. Demographic Info• Ages 40 to 60+ make up 75% of purchases• 50% of purchasers have incomes over $100K• 80/20 ratio for gender• Nearly 60% over 40 years old• 45% have advanced degrees 2013 Fat Bike Summit and Festival 11
  12. 12. Retailer Joel Buth, Alaska• At Goldstream Sports, just north of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, owner Joel Buth specializes in cross-country skis and road bikes. But four years ago, he added fat bikes to his winter inventory. "Mostly what I see is the backcountry enthusiast and older couples, too, that just want to get out and get exercise in the winter and dont want to mess around with skis, and they just like to bike." 2013 Fat Bike Summit and Festival 12
  13. 13. Retailer Bill Fleming, AK• Bill Fleming, co-owner of Chain Reaction Cycles in Anchorage: “We can’t get ahead of orders…it’s non-stop. People just love these bikes. It’s changed the way they look at winter. These die-hard Nordic skiers get on them, and they realize it’s an easier sport. They don’t have to wax, you can ride out your front door. You’re on a little trail in the middle of winter and it’s beautiful.” 2013 Fat Bike Summit and Festival 13
  14. 14. Fat Bikes Used for Wildlife Viewing• Federal biologist Tony Fishbach has used a fat bike to study walruses at Icy Cape, 50 miles north of Point Lay• Fat bikes slow and quiet – wildlife not scared“They weigh a lot less than a Honda 4-wheeler, they’re cheaper, and you can put them in a plane and fly to remote beaches. I can’t make product endorsements, but they’re great” 2013 Fat Bike Summit and Festival 14
  15. 15. Lake Clark National Park, AK• Park Ranger Warren Hill an early fat bike owner and rider• Purchased a Surly Pugsley in 2004• Lake Clark National Park is truly wilderness – No roads, no trails, extremely remote – 80 miles of beach with rocky outcrops• Fat bikes perfect for patrols on frozen rivers and beaches 2013 Fat Bike Summit and Festival 15
  16. 16. Lake Clark, cont.• Hill convinced park management to replace ATVs with fat bikes• With ATVs, park volunteers hard to find – Need to complete 3-day ATV safety class• With fat bikes, Hill has waiting list for park volunteers• Nearby town has highest percentage of fat bikes per capita (fuel is $7+ per gallon) 2013 Fat Bike Summit and Festival 16
  17. 17. Photo from Warren Hill at Lake Clark National Park Note raft on handlebars, with paddle attached to frame Hill ordered more fat bikes in 20122013 Fat Bike Summit and Festival 17
  18. 18. Andy Williams, Grand Targhee Resort
  19. 19. Alaska Examples• Anchorage police chief Mark Mew uses a Fat Bike for hunting in summer, patrols and general fitness in winter.“I love it,” says Mew. “It’s a quiet ride through the snow covered woods.” 2013 Fat Bike Summit and Festival 19
  20. 20. Methow Valley, WA• The Methow Valley Sport Trails Association (MVSTA) in Winthrop, Washington is opening selected cross- country ski trails to fat bikes.• Methow Valley is home to the nation’s largest cross- country ski area, with 120+ miles of groomed trails. “In addition to providing a great way for cyclists to stay in shape during the winter season, fat bikes give people another why to play in the Methow Valley’s incredibly dry, sunny, cold conditions. Simply layer up like you would for skiing and get out and ride. No waxing required, and for the passionate cross-country skier, it’s good cross-training.” 2013 Fat Bike Summit and Festival 20
  21. 21. Methow Valley Land Use Complicated• Some 52% of the trail system is on U.S. Forest Service (USFS) lands with another .002% on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) lands.• Of the remaining lands, 2.1% is on Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) lane, and another 1.7% is on Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) lands with 20-year permits.• The remainder runs over a complex of private lands on which MVSTA has entered into long-term agreements with landowners.• Fat Bike guidelines developed in advance of last years Summit were adopted. 2013 Fat Bike Summit and Festival 22
  22. 22. From the first fat bike blog post through our press releases, Facebook updatesand other fat bike updates, whenever we talk about fat bikingor post a fat bike photo it basically goes completely viral.People are fascinated by the bikes and the opportunity to ride in the snow.I field 4-5 fat bike press requests a week. - MVSTA Director
  23. 23. Methow Valley Update• Overall, program is running smoothly• Interest and exposure for fat bike trail use has been strong• Increase in ski ticket/pass sales due to fat bike riders• Organizers feel time and effort to implement fat bike trails have been worth it• Skeptics have reversed themselves – limited impact on trails by fat bikes demonstrated“ MVSTA will manage fat bikers in a way that there will be equal or less impact to the trails surface and safety that that of skiers” 2013 Fat Bike Summit and Festival 24
  24. 24. I really believe fat biking is poised for greatness. Again this year the media attentionhas been crazy. Once more bikes are available and more people are out ridingthem this is really, really going to take off. - MVSTA Director
  25. 25. Michigan Tech• Started fat bike trail use program in 2012• 2.4 km of tilled trail• 9 km of snowmobile groomed trail• 2.5 km of ungroomed single track• 5 km of tilled beginner nordic trail open after trail lights are out at 9 pm• Jeff Parker, trail guru, reports “zero” damage to nordic trails 2013 Fat Bike Summit and Festival 26
  26. 26. MTU Update, cont.• Based on success of MTU, Swedetown Ski Trails in Calument started a fat bike program• Fat Tuesdays – fat bikes allowed on trail system after 6 pm• Have also added two more local races due to number of fat bikes 2013 Fat Bike Summit and Festival 27
  27. 27. MTU Update, cont.• Very few issues – damage from fat bike use of nordic ski trails is “zero”• Dropped nordic ski races because fat bike races draw better• Skiers and fat bike riders coexisting peacefully MTU Athletic Director “very pleased when she stopped by see fat bikers using our ski trails. She’s indicated she’d like to expand the fat bike trail network of trails.” 2013 Fat Bike Summit and Festival 28
  28. 28. Minnesota’s Cuyuna• Cuyuna a 5,000 acre state recreation area owned/operated by MN DNR• Abandoned mine site in Northern MN• Opened 23-mile network of trails in 2011• Significant economic driver for depressed area• Has become national destination• Nearly 30,000 riders in 2013 (winter and summer) 2013 Fat Bike Summit and Festival 29
  29. 29. Cuyuna Update 2013• 300% increase in Winter riders from 2012 to date – Includes a vistor from Moab• Sagamore Unit is for fat bikes only – no mountain bikes• Yawkey Unit (Expert mountain bike trails) has also been opened to fat bike use (no mtb)• Grooming done with snow shoes and rack pulled behind snowmobile 2013 Fat Bike Summit and Festival 30
  30. 30. Cuyuna Update, cont.• Hallet Community Center created a Fat Bike package for riders to use locker, shower, and sauna for modest fee• Large % of riders come from Mpls/St. Paul (2.5 hours)• WhiteOut race in March will have 150+ racers• Registered racers coming from WI, MI, Canada• Farthest distance for registered rider so far – 700 miles“Rode your trails for the first time. Great grooming job – best riding in MN! Thanks for providing such a great experience. We’ll be back! 2013 Fat Bike Summit and Festival 31
  31. 31. 2013 Fat Bike Summit and Festival 32
  32. 32. MN Fat Bike Access• Lack of snow has limited discussion of access issues• MN’s legacy of single-use trails a longstanding tradition• Eventually, fat bikes will need to negotiate with either snowmobile or nordic ski trail managers for access if numbers continue to grow 2013 Fat Bike Summit and Festival 33
  33. 33. Wyoming• Town of Jackson Groomed Trails – 25+ miles of trail – 5 years of incident-free use – Mostly non-motorized use, some snowmobile mixed use – Approximately 40+ fat bikes in circulation• Togwotee Pass/Continental Divide Snowmobile Trails – 600 miles of groomed trails – Backcountry experience – 4 years of Togwotee Winter Classic Race 2013 Fat Bike Summit and Festival 34
  34. 34. Teton Valley, Idaho• 35 miles of groomed nordic trails – Partnership with Teton Valley Trails and Pathways• Non-groomed snowmobile trails• 25+ rental fat bikes• Groomed snowmobile trails – District 33 MOU – Fat bikes paying their way for access• Valley Roads 2013 Fat Bike Summit and Festival 35
  35. 35. District 33 MOU• Desire to contribute but no mechanism for it• Confusion about access and enforcement• Agreement addressing financial contribution and safety• Pilot Program 2013 Fat Bike Summit and Festival 36
  36. 36. Island Park/West Yellowstone• Nearly 1000 miles of groomed trail• Variety of terrain• Great amenities• Day rides or epic adventures• A future mecca for fat biking 2013 Fat Bike Summit and Festival 37
  37. 37. Harriman State Park• Park Manager attended last year’s Summit• Open to a pilot fat bike program at Harriman State Park in 2013• Looking for input and guidance, but needs approval from management• Would increase winter use of facility, but require careful strategy for implementation 2013 Fat Bike Summit and Festival 38
  38. 38. Fat Bike Riding• Riding experience close to snowshoeing• Slow, solitary, quiet – not explosive or fast• Fat bikes work best on compacted snow – More than 3” of snow prohibits use• Low tire pressure (< 10 psi) and slow speeds mean almost no impact to trails 2013 Fat Bike Summit and Festival 39
  39. 39. Fat Bike Rider• Well educated/high household incomes• Cold weather not a barrier• Mostly male, but female participation growing• Mix of solitary/group activity• Looking for unique outdoor winter experience• More adventure than adrenaline 2013 Fat Bike Summit and Festival 40
  40. 40. Current Regulations Yellowstone National Park• Groomed Park Roads• Fat bikes not officially designated as winter useYNP Draft Winter Use Plan: Section 7.13(I)(15) Are there any forms of non-motorized oversnow transportation allowed in the park? (i) Non-motorized travel consisting of skiing, skating, showshoeing, or walking is permitted unless otherwise restricted under this section or other NPS regulations (ii)The Superintendent may designate areas of the park as closed, reopen such areas, or establish terms and conditions for non-motorized travel within the park in order to protect visitors, employees or park resources. Notice will be made in accordance with Section 1.7(a) of this chapter (iii)Dog sledding and ski-joring are prohibited (iv)Bicycles are prohibited on oversnow routes in Yellowstone 2013 Fat Bike Summit and Festival 41
  41. 41. Current Regulations, cont.• Analysis of Yellowstone Winter Use Plan as written in the Federal Register 7/5/11: In addition, the park has carefully reviewed new proposals to allow use of “snowbikes” (bicycles that have been modified to travel on packed snow routes). In past winter plans and regulations, the NPS has prohibited snowbikes. In earlier reviews, the NPS believed the addition of snowbikes on the groomed oversnow routes had the potential to create conflicts with snowmobile and snowcoach groups, as well as cross-country skiiers, snowshoers, and walkers who are currently allowed on the oversnow routes. The NPS concluded that safety issues could develop with this type of use. For example, snowbikes depend on packed, groomed surfaces. Heavy snowfalls and rapidly warming conditions have the potential to create conditions by which travel by snowbikes is impossible after they have traveled miles into the park. In this planning process, new requests were made to authorize snowbikes. The NPS has reviewed these requests and past analysis, and this proposed rule would continue the ban on use of snowbikes. 2013 Fat Bike Summit and Festival 42
  42. 42. Current Regulations, cont. Grand Teton National Park• Groomed Park Roads• Winter Use Plans Final Environmental Impact Statement, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway, Sept. 2007A comment during public review of the DEIS suggested that parks allow snowbikes. The NPS believes that the use of snowbikes could conflict and/or create safety hazards along routes on which substantial numbers of snowmobiles and snowcoaches operate, such as the groomed roads in Yellowstone. Within units of the NPS, bicycles may only be used on park roads, parking areas, and on routes designated for such use by special regulation. The NPS may consider whether the use of snowbikes would be appropriate on certain groomed roads in Grand Teton where conflicts with oversnow vehicles , other visitors, or wildlife is not an issue.2007 NEPA and Final Rule was thrown out by the courts. 2013 Fat Bike Summit and Festival 43
  43. 43. Current Regulations, cont. Grand Teton National Park• Dec. 15th, 2009 – Final Rule Winter Use GTNP and John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway Section 7.22 (14) Are there any forms of non-motorized oversnow transportation allowed in the park?(i) Non-motorized travel consisting of skiing, snowshoeing, or walking is permitted unless otherwise restricted under this section or other NPS regulations.(ii)The Superintendent may designate areas of the park as closed, reopen such areas, or establish terms and conditions for non-motorized travel within the park to protect visitors, employees, or park resources.(iii)Dog sledding and ski-joring are prohibited 2013 Fat Bike Summit and Festival 44