Fat bike use ‘growing in a hurry’ in Alberta Parks

Fat bikes are coming into their own in the mountainous trails outside of Calgary.

Trails that used to exclude the fairly new winter-sport are opening up for the bikes and now users have a huge amount of rides to choose from. 

Erik Larson is one of the owners of Calgary Cycle — one of the many shops selling the bikes in the city. And he says while sales for gear have hit a bit of a plateau, there’s a hefty group of people using the gear, and getting the most out of an abundance of trails within an hours drive of the city.

One of the first spots that came online for fat bikes was the West Bragg Creek area, thanks to the local trail association. And Larson says the Canmore Nordic Centre is also considered one of the sport’s local birthplaces. 

“Some of the trails that were closed to fat bikers in the last year, or two or three have now been deemed to be accessible to fat bikers as well as all the other users that were normally using those trails,” he said. ” I don’t know where that will top out but in the last few years, yeah more and more stuff has come online.”

His shop, and others in town, host group rides year-round thanks to the trails that carry through the season: in the summertime mountain bikers use them, and now fat bikes take their hefty (but light) tires down, creating snowy tread marks as they go.

‘Perfect spot for it’

He says attendance-wise some of the mountain bikers switch to fat bikes for the rides, and what they lose in one season they pick up in the next from users they might not see in the summer. Their rides can garner more than 25 participants — but on a typical week he says they see more than 10 people participate.

“We do live in a part of the world where we’re literally in almost a perfect spot for it,” he said. “You could ride the legal sanctioned trails all winter and not really repeat stuff too much, unless you had an absolute ton of spare time to ride.”

Duane Fizor is the Kananaskis region wayfinding and trail lead for Alberta Parks. Over the years, he says, the sport has become one of the fastest-growing winter trail activities they’ve seen.

Trail design with fat bikes in mind

“This sport has really taken off,” he said. ” I’d say it’s still a relatively small share but growing in a hurry.”

It’s become popular enough for parks to consider the sport when they are designing new trails. Fizor said they have started making trails that were just for snowshoeing multi-use. But converting them takes a little bit of consideration.

“We’ve had to expand the width of the trails in some cases and we’re trying to educate snow showers kind of to work together basically so that the path width of the trail becomes a little bit wider,” he said, adding that helps accommodate for the width of the bikes and pedals, along with the existing snowshoe users.

Creative thinking to groom a path

Then there’s the grooming. Fizor says there’s not really designated equipment out there to groom the trails. So, they’ve had to improvise to help pack down snow. It’s an experiment.

Alberta park staff are also thinking about how to design trails to be more interesting for fat bike users. 

“Bikers want a little more undulating terrain a bit more feature ups and downs and better corners and whatnot,” he said. “So when we’re designing the trails we’re working with that in mind.” 

There’s lots of information on trails online, and trail reports now include fat bikes — an icon of a person on a bike with snowflakes instead of wheel spokes.



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Sherwood Park

Sherwood Park is a large hamlet in Alberta, Canada within Strathcona County that is recognized as an urban service area.[7] It is located adjacent to the City of Edmonton’s eastern boundary,[8] generally south of Highway 16 (Yellowhead Trail), west of Highway 21 and north of Highway 630 (Wye Road).[9] Other portions of Sherwood Park extend beyond Yellowhead Trail and Wye Road, while Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) separates Refinery Row to the west from the balance of the hamlet to the east.[9]

Sherwood Park was established in 1955 on farmland of the Smeltzer family, east of Edmonton. With a population of 70,618 in 2016,[6] Sherwood Park has enough people to be Alberta’s seventh largest city, but technically retains the status of a hamlet. The Government of Alberta recognizes the Sherwood Park Urban Service Area as equivalent to a city.

History

Sherwood Park, originally named Campbelltown, was founded by John Hook Campbell and John Mitchell in 1953 when the Municipal District of Strathcona No. 83 approved their proposed development of a bedroom community east of Edmonton. The first homes within the community were marketed to the public in 1955. Canada Post intervened on the name of Campbelltown due to the existence of several other communities in Canada within the same name, so the community’s name was changed to Sherwood Park in 1956.
Geography

The Sherwood Park Urban Service Area is located in the Edmonton Capital Region along the western edge of central Strathcona County adjacent to the City of Edmonton.[8] The majority of the community is bound by Highway 16 (Yellowhead Highway) to the north, Highway 21 to the east, Highway 630 (Wye Road) to the south, and Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) to the west. The Refinery Row portion of Sherwood Park is located across Anthony Henday Drive to the west, between Sherwood Park Freeway and Highway 16. Numerous developments fronting the south side of Wye Road, including Wye Gardens, Wye Crossing, Salisbury Village and the Estates of Sherwood Park, are also within the community. Lands north of Highway 16 and south of Township Road 534/Oldman Creek between Range Road 232 (Sherwood Drive) to the west and Highway 21 to the east are also within the Sherwood Park urban service area.

Originally posted 2019-01-06 06:44:55. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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