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Biking and XC Skiing: A Match Made for Adventure

Biking and XC Skiing: A Match Made for Adventure

It is both the beauty and the tragedy of cross country ski centers in temperate climates that the seasons change, and good skiing is possible for only a somewhat brief wintery window in the year. That pristine packed powder only lasts so long, and (at least in the east) mud season inevitably makes its way to the ski trails. Luckily though, the recent pairing of skiing with various types of biking has made Nordic trails accessible to adventures all year round.

When the snow has completely melted, many ski centers add mountain bikes to the rental repertoire. Whether you rent a mountain bike or bring your own, ski centers across North America—from Tahoe to Whistler to Craftsbury Vermont—boast extensive trail networks which weave together both single track and wider ski trails. The result is a whole additional range of options available to visitors of Nordic ski/activity centers. These trail networks offer biking suited to any and every skill level, from wide hardpacked flats for those getting their sea legs to thrilling, narrow trails with banked turns and daunting drops for the advanced adrenaline junkie. Biking on these trails you can’t help but wind your way through beautiful forest thickets, open fields or expansive vistas. You’re sure to discover a whole new side of your local ski center, or trail network, full of fresh sights and satisfying terrain.

What’s more, biking can come to the rescue even in winter. If you’re in the mood for a change of pace and perspective, most ski centers now offer fat bikes to rent! Fat bikes are bikes riding on extra wide tires—4 to 5 inches wide—which are inflated to a lower than normal pressure and splat out across the ground to give your bike maximum surface contact. Not unlike the way a snowshoe works, this wider surface area disperses the bike and its rider’s weight across soft substrates—like snow! Yes, at almost any XC ski centers these days, you’re bound to fat bikers cruising right alongside skiers, their tires hardly making an impression in the groomed ski track. Fat bikes are truly all-terrain vehicles and can be ridden anywhere a traditional mountain or road bike can, plus on snow, slush, mud, or whatever your conditions may be. Even experienced cyclists report that fat biking gives them extra confidence and capabilities on loose and soft terrain and opens up a world of bike-route options. Just as ski centers in the summer months combine single track and wider trails, fat bikers often have use of both the standard groomed paths and smaller paths groomed only by bike-tire—giving fat bikers a unique ticket to all the adventures ski centers have to offer.

No matter the season, condition or location, biking adds another incredible array of possibilities to the offerings at ski centers. More and more, cross country ski centers are becoming outdoor activity destinations, providing an assortment of options for the intrepid visitor to sample from at their pleasure.

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About The Author

Pete Wilson

Pete is a Vermont native with a lifelong love of being outside. Ever since he bushwhacked a ski trail through his parents’ property, he’s been hooked on getting into the woods--whether it’s on skis or snowshoes, or going out for a trail run or a long hike. He studied English at Carleton College, and now after four years in Minnesota is back in the Green Mountains exploring the endlessly beautiful and intriguing locales across the Northeast.

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