The Omineca Ski Club’s (OSC) executive is working hard to address the complexities and possibilities of introducing fat biking to their groomed ski trails.
Fat bikes are currently not be permitted at the club, with the exception of sanctioned single-day events.
According to the club, there has been some “informal use” of fat bikes on their trails in the past, which has raised some concerns.
The biggest issue is the matter of insurance. Although all OSC skiers are covered by insurance – which is paid through their membership fees – the insurance does not cover fat biking.
The club’s executive has been researching different types of insurance coverage, but has not found an adequate and affordable solution.
“If we are to introduce fat biking to our trails, we have to be sure that we can maintain it over subsequent winter seasons at an affordable cost to the user,” says the club’s executive on their website.
There are also concerns about damage to the trails when conditions are not ideal.
“Generally you wouldn’t ride a fat bike above 0 C,” explained OSC member Jay Finstad.
Bikers should also not ride the trails if they are leaving a tire rut deeper than one to two centimetres, having a hard time riding in a straight line, and if their bikes’ tires are less than 3.7 inches in width or their tire pressure is greater than six psi.
At the Dec. 4, 2017 meeting, the club decided to form a working group to collect information and submit recommendations to club executive and members.
The club has also decided to purchase insurance for single-day events this winter in which fat biking is allowed. These single-day events are allowing club members to see how the bikes maneuver on the trails and interact with skiers.
The most recent of these events was World Snow Day, with had approximately 30 people trying out fat biking in Burns Lake. Although conditions weren’t ideal for fat bikes that day, Finstad, who’s leading the OSC’s fat biking working group, said the event was “overall positive.”
Club volunteer Chris Paulson agrees that the event went well. Paulson believes that fat biking could not only be used to grow the club’s membership, but also to extend the skiing season in Burns Lake since bikers can still ride when conditions are not ideal for skiing.
“Fat biking is so compatible with cross-country skiing,” said Paulson. “There are so many benefits to fat biking; everybody needs to be out there enjoying the fresh air during winter.”
The club hopes that members will become more informed about fat biking and bring forward ideas to the OSC’s annual general meeting this spring.
“No matter what’s decided, I’m hoping we can find a way for people to enjoy the winter,” said Finstad.
A survey asking trail users about their interest in fat biking is available in the club’s wax cabin and on their website at http://ominecaskiclub.ca/fat-biking/