The grooming of fat bike trails on Emerald has begun
A man on a sled was seen on Emerald Mountain last weekend.
He was not helped by reindeer and however did not wear a red suit. Frank Geeslin drove his snowmobile not to deliver toys but to clean the tracks of big bike paths. The grooming marks the start of fat bike season on the Emerald Mountain trail system, which some say is better than any gift they’ll receive this holiday season.
Geeslin is a former Routt County Riders board member, and he continues to volunteer to do the job on Emerald which gives big bikers a smooth and enjoyable ride. Geeslin started on some trails last weekend and is hoping to access other trails after more snow this week.
This week he treated Prayer Flag Road, Blair Witch, Angry Grouse, and Larry’s Luge. Last winter, the city put a small track on Prayer Flag Road to provide a wider trail. It could happen again this year.
“Even though it’s not yet an ideal snow surface, he’s trying to run the groomer to reduce snow compaction.
Later he can prepare the Orton trail through the large open meadow, which has a less obvious trail corridor. To avoid any damage to the vegetation below, Geeslin waits for more snow before crossing this area.
A map of groomed trails is available online at RouttCountyRiders.org/fat-biking.
Not all trails that will be groomed have been groomed, and not all Emerald trails will be groomed.
“We are walking the line between wanting to prepare roads for heavy bikers, but not cleaning so much that other trail users feel overwhelmed,” Martin said.
Right now conditions are quite variable meaning that some places will have good snow cover while others will have visible vegetation. Early season trail travel is great for providing a solid, compact surface to support future snow and trail users.
Most of the trails on Emerald are multi-use, but people should be considerate users. Groomed trails are not off limits for hikers, but they should not be used if trail users are burrowing in the snow. Postholing is a big ban on groomed trails.
Routt County Riders love to tell people to “Think before you sink” and post smart reminders on their website and around the trail system in the winter. “Think before you sink” asks people to wear snowshoes if they leave footprints and reduce the psi of their tires if they leave a rut.
Grooming takes time and effort and is very easily undone with a few footprints. Bumps and bumps in the trail are more likely in hot weather, so opt for the trails when it is cold or in the morning and evening.
For those looking to get into fat biking, Emerald might not be the best place to learn. The groomed and solid trails make it a lot easier, however. When Martin started fat biking last winter, she took the county roads, which offered a smooth, relatively gentle surface to get used to the somewhat clunky cycling variant.
“It’s really tough. I heard someone say once, ‘Fat biking is like mountain biking, but a lot harder and less fun,” Martin said. “I like the idea that people can come into town and rent a big bike and go out and ride a big bike, but it takes really work to get used to. It feels like you’re pedaling on slippery sand. It’s much better when you are on a well-groomed, frozen and really firm surface.
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.