2018-02-01 / Local News

Fat bike event canceled due to bad weather (forecast)


CHARLES WHITNEY of Lake Leelanau enjoys a fat bike ride with companions Jon Champagne from Arkansas and Jim Hadfield from England, on the newly opened Leelanau State Park Winter Recreation Trail in Northport. CHARLES WHITNEY of Lake Leelanau enjoys a fat bike ride with companions Jon Champagne from Arkansas and Jim Hadfield from England, on the newly opened Leelanau State Park Winter Recreation Trail in Northport. Snow should be falling on and off for the next several days, but earlier predictions for a warmer Saturday deflated fat tire biking.

At least temporarily.

Originally scheduled for this weekend, the 2018 Winter Sports Trail at Leelanau State Park Open House has been postponed.

When last week’s weather reports announced a 40-plus degree day for the weekend, event organizers decided to err on the side of caution to ensure preservation of the recently established trail.

Fat tire bike enthusiasts are only supposed to ride on their trails in Leelanau State park when temperatures fall below 30 degrees, according to Northshore Outfitters and Winter Sports Recreation Trail volunteer groomer Will Harper. When temperatures are warm, bikes can sink into the snow and cause damage to the snow base.

“It won’t cause soil erosion, but it can make a rut in the snow base that once it freezes, it can be a rough surface,” he said.

Now, it looks like the weekend weather and new snow will be perfect for all kinds of winter sports.

“We always encourage folks to get out into the woods,” Harper said. “We have a lot of soft snow good for skiing and snowshoeing. And we have a really good, hard pack base on 90 percent of the trail.”

Harper and other volunteers are grooming the fat bike trail, which is comprised of concentric loops. The complete network of park trails provides approximately 16 miles of travel for cross country skiing, snowshoeing and winter hiking. Only certain parts of it are open for fat tire biking.

Since officially opening in December, the Winter Sports Recreation Trail has attracted tremendous use.

“Participation on the trail has been really great. It’s been better than expected, and all the feedback I’ve gotten has been really positive,” Harper said.

The multi-use trail, located at the end of Densmore Road was developed through a partnership between Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association (NMMBA), North Shore Outfitters, Suttons Bay Bikes, rangers at Leelanau State Park and an organized group of bike advocates from Bike Leelanau, Harper said.

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