WAUSAU — A group of mountain-biking advocates has developed a trail system specifically for specially designed fat-tired snow bicycles at Sunny Vale Park on Wausau’s west side.
The trail also will be used for as a race course for the first-ever fat bike race included in the Badger State Games, to be held Jan. 18.
Volunteers from the Central Wisconsin Offroad Cycling Coalition created about seven miles of fat-bike trails throughout the 300-acre Marathon County park. The trails opened for cyclists shortly before Christmas, said Gary Barden, president of the CWOCC.
The bicycles, commonly called fat bikes or snow bikes, are built with super-wide tires that can be ridden with very little air pressure, increasing the bike’s traction and ridability in snowy conditions. Those balloon-like tires allow cyclists to ride on top on snow, where narrower, higher-pressure tires tend to sink in and bog down.
Just a few years ago, the bikes were an oddity, a quirky little niche in a sport known for its cliques. But more and more cyclists, especially across the Midwest, have embraced the new style of riding. As the bikes have grown more popular, the need for a good place to ride near Wausau grew, Barden said.
“Honestly, the sport is booming,” Barden said. “As riders, it was necessary for us to find a location to ride during the winter, something that was closer to the metropolitan area. There’s a lot of fat bikers in the area, and the demand for trails to ride on is growing and wanted.”
The new trail is a key step toward making the Wausau area a mountain-biking destination, one of the primary goals of CWOCC.
Steve Meurett, 53, from just outside Neillsville, was a pioneer in fat bike trail development in central Wisconsin. He does volunteer trail maintenance at Levis Mound, 12 miles southwest of Neillsville in Clark County. Fat-tire mountain bikers and snowshoers share trails, and cross-country skiers have their own. Meurett helped develop and takes care of them all.
He agrees with Barden about the growth of fat-tire biking and the need for winter cycling trails.