By Nikki Fredrikson
Special to the Pioneer
Fat biking in the Columbia Valley is about to get a whole lot smoother, thanks to a successful crowdfunding fundraiser from the Columbia Valley Cycling Society (CVCS). The CVCS created their GoFundMe page January 10th to see if the cycling community had an interest in having a SnowDog groomer, to maintain bike trails throughout the winter. (A SnowDog is a brand name groomer tailored for uses such as fat bikes, hunters, and ice fishermen). The fundraiser took off with $6,020 raised (exceeding their $5,500 goal) in 10 days from generous community members and businesses.
Among the donors was Nipika Mountain Resort chipping in $1,500 for the new groomer in an effort to encourage the development of fat biking in the Valley, said Nipika’s Steve Wilson.
“Fat biking without groomed trails is really difficult. If bikers go where it isn’t groomed, it isn’t an enjoyable experience. The SnowDog will allow fat bikers to experience a wide variety of terrain with more speed and ease while preventing other trails, like those for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, from being impacted,” said Mr. Wilson.
Presently, the CVCS maintains the bike trails by packing the snow down with snowshoes, which proves to be difficult in high snow areas such as the Toby benches. The new groomer will allow a single operator to maneuver the machine while standing on it, essentially pulling the operator along.
“The track that it sets is about 20 inches wide roughly so it would be about the same sort of width as if you had maybe two people snowshoeing side by side,” said CVCS secretary Andrew Hill.
The CVCS hopes to have roughly 15 kilometres of terrain in the Johnson trail network groomed with the new SnowDog.
“It’s basically going to create a riding experience that a lot of people in the Valley hadn’t really had the opportunity to experience,” said Mr. Hill.
A group of CVCS directors and members will share the responsibility of maintaining the trail systems with the new groomer, getting out on the trails after large snowfalls, periods of high traffic, and during periods of freeze-thaw.
“As far as maintenance goes it’s all weather dependent more than anything else. So you would want to make sure you groom, I would say, relatively soon after major snowfall, so probably within 48 hours or so,” said Mr. Hill.
The CVCS will spend a few days learning how to use the SnowDog before hitting the trails for some maintenance. Mr. Hill would like to thank every donor who made it possible to purchase the cycling society’s new SnowDog.