Fat Bikes versus Nordic Skis: Two Communities Competing for Trails in Crested Butte

A fat biker rides along one of the Crested Butte Nordic Trails.

Fat Bikes versus Nordic Skis: Two Communities Competing for Trails in Crested Butte

Crested Butte is home to snow sports enthusiasts of many kinds. Fat bikes versus Nordic Skis – the most recent battle of the trails is upon us. In the 80’s it was Skiers versus Snowboarders… and look at us now. With the exception of a recent unfortunate event in Aspen, we seem to be enjoying the terrain side by side with mutual respect.

This week, the Borealis Fat Bike World Championships will take place in Crested Butte, CO. Many locals and visitors are stoked to be a part of the first annual event. Fat biking events include a kick off party (Wednesday), individual and team races (Thursday), fat bike demos (Friday), Elite and Open division World Championships (Saturday) and a Hair of the Dawg ride (Sunday). Grilling, vendors, music and after parties are to be held at various locations throughout town. Check out the full schedule here.

Many will find a reason to attend the party this weekend, but not everyone is happy about the increased Fat Bike presence in Crested Butte lately. As Fat Bikes Descend On Crested Butte, Controversy With Nordic Skiers Simmers, a recent interview with David Ochs on Colorado Public Radio, brings light to the increased tension between local nordic skiers and fat bikers. David mentions that fat bikes are often dependent on other snow enthusiasts for trail options. Fat bikes need to ride in groomed snowmobile tracks or nordic trails- which occasionally creates a problem. When conditions are warm and the snow is soft, fat bikes tend to leave deep ruts in the otherwise smooth trails- peeving the cross country skier. Maybe some of the fat bikers will take to the mountain instead of the nordic trails? Crested Butte Mountain Resort recently announced that it will allow on mountain fat biking in specific areas before and after the lifts run.

For the most part, the two communities seem to be getting along and enjoying the trails that Crested Butte has to offer. Discussions on trail usage, etiquette, and appropriate terrain will continue between the two groups as fat biking becomes increasingly popular. The town seems to whole heartedly welcome fat bikers to the area, but also does not want to damage the nordic skiing community which contributes largely to the local revenue and recreation.

Cross country fans have their own big event happening in the coming weeks. The Alley Loop will hit the streets of Crested Butte on February 6th. The race begins and ends in the heart of Crested Butte and it’s one of the biggest nordic races in all of Colorado. Wearing creative costumes and having a blast, herds of cross country skiers will ski between 1.5 kilometer and 42 kilometer routes (with lots of options in between). Kids, classic, and freestyle races will take place throughout the day with a beer garden at the finish line. Check out the full schedule here. It’s sure to be one of Crested Butte’s biggest parties!

The nordic community is graciously lending some trails for the fat bikers this weekend and the streets of CB will close next weekend for the cross country skiers to have their day. It looks like everyone is getting along pretty well to me. Whether you’re on your seat or on your skis, please respect your fellow recreation enthusiasts and have a great time!