January 06, 2016 - 4:30 PM
KAMLOOPS - As the snow continues to fall die hard cyclists are being joined by even more people interested in trying out the sport of fat biking, and as a result more trails are needed in the area.
Brad Heyman, a fat biker and member of the local riding group Fat Fockers, says as more people get out to try the sport there’s a demand for an increased network of trails — specifically near Isobel Lake where the group typically rides. As a result the group is looking to raise funds to help create those trails and increase signage to help the newbies navigate the area.
Fat biking is a year-round biking activity made possible with extra-wide (fat) tires which allow riders to maneuver through snow and sand. Heyman says there’s between 125 and 150 regular riders in the city.
“The fat bike genre is probably the fastest growing cycling segment right now,” he says. “There’s a huge demand for access and rideable trails. It’s one of those things we’re looking at putting together."
So far, those with an interest in the sport have carved and maintained the trails in several areas of Kamloops, but Heyman is in talks with provincial officials to increase the kilometre amount and he hopes to get signage out for the new riders as well.
Carving new trails, or packing existing ones, is mostly done with weighted tires attached to the rear of a snowmobile. Heyman says attachments on the vehicle churn up the snow and the weights pack it down. A third of each trail is also packed by snowshoers pulling weights. After carving the trail, it usually hardens well enough within a couple of days that it’s ready for fat bikes. If it’s not hard enough, Heyman says it’s like taking a ride in corn starch.
“It’s a lot of work, but it does create a nice trail. Ideally I would love to have a 20 to 25 k network that’s established and well groomed,” Heyman says.
He notes signs are an important factor for the advancement of the sport in Kamloops because many trying their hand at fat biking have unknowingly trespassed onto cross country ski paths or away from the carved trail.
To raise the money for increased trail access and awareness, Heyman, as director of the Kamloops Performance Cycling Centre, launched a GoFundMe page as part of a contest through 45NRTH, a company which manufactures fat biking products. The company is hosting a contest to see which fat biking group can raise the most funds and will award a financial prize to help the group’s efforts. Each dollar raised counts as one vote and Kamloops is already guaranteed a $500 grant from 45NRTH.
Heyman says the Kamloops group is competing with one other fat bike group from Minnesota. He hopes Kamloops can win the $3,000 financial grant which he says will go towards a power-operated groomer and trail signs. The long-term goal, he says, is to have a large enough network of trails for riders to buy a pass for each year.
"Someone can buy a trail pass and go up and do their thing. But education is number one,” Heyman says.
To contribute to the groups’ efforts and learn more about the contest, click here. To learn about fat biking and the Fat Fockers group, check out their Facebook page.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016