Written by Aaron Ruff
EDITORIAL UPDATE 2/23/2018: The Central Wisconsin Offroad Cycling Coalition (CWOCC) no longer grooms or maintains snow-biking trails at Sunnyvale Park. As such, the trails at Sunnyvale Park that had been maintained at the time of original publication of this article are no longer open.
If you’ve ever wanted to ride a snowy rollercoaster through the woods,
roll down the snow-covered slope of a driving range,
or race over a frozen lake…
Well, now you can!
Grab a fat bike and spend a weekend riding Central Wisconsin’s hub for winter fat-biking.
The Central Wisconsin Offroad Cycling Coalition (CWOCC), a chapter of the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA), has established the goal of making the greater Wausau area an IMBA Ride Center destination. Through CWOCC’s leadership, the greater Wausau area has become a major winter fat-bike destination.
Currently, the area has 4 winter fat-bike trail systems with over 30 miles of groomed snow trails. Click here to download a PDF describing four snow trails in Marathon County.
CWOCC’s partnership with the Marathon County Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Department created the area’s first snow bike trail system at Sunny Vale County Park in Wausau in 2013. By December 2015, CWOCC teamed up with the Greenwood Hills Country Club to allow for fat bikes to utilize the existing groomed cross-country ski trails that traverse the golf course. Greenwood Hills became the area’s first multi-use winter trail system, allowing skiers and fat bikers to share the same trails.
In December 2016, CWOCC began grooming winter trails at the already popular Big Eau Pleine County Park mountain bike trail system in Mosinee. CWOCC has also expanded its reach to include the Prairie Dells Loop, a newly built trail system near the Underdown Recreation Area in Merrill into their winter fat-bike trail roster. According to CWOCC President Jahn Martin:
“We now have four unique winter fat-biking trail systems, all within about 30 minutes of downtown Wausau.” [Tweet this]
Winter fat-bike trails don’t appear on their own… CWOCC volunteers spend hours maintaining and grooming the winter trails with their arsenal of grooming equipment. The club spends its own money—along with rider and business donations—to purchase, maintain, and run their equipment. A typical grooming set-up starts with a utility snowmobile pulling custom “groomers,” which consists of a 24″–32″ weighted roller and leveling drag.
According to CWOCC’s head groomer, Chad Page:
“Winter fat-biking is a relatively new sport, but with our area’s strong mountain bike culture in spring, summer, and fall, it’s no accident that our community has invested in winter riding.”
With the right amount of snow and freezing temperatures, grooming results in snow-packed trails that mimic a paved sidewalk. Now weave these trails through scenic woodlands, over frozen creeks, and up golf course fairways. Their appeal is undeniable. Says Page:
“The beauty of winter riding is that these trail systems are in some of the most scenic places our area has to offer, and each one offers a different riding experience.”
With all the January snow, it’s a great time to give winter fat-biking a try!
Fat-bike rentals are available at:
- Rib Mountain Cycles | 4001 Rib Mountain Drive, Wausau, WI 54401 | 359.3925
- The Trek Store of Wausau | 2601 Stewart Ave, Wausau, WI 54401 | 845.7433
If you need a little teaser to see how fun winter fat biking can be, check out this Sunny Vale Fat-Bike Trail System GoPro video on YouTube.
Public Health Educator | Marathon County Health Department
Aaron Ruff is a Public Health Educator with the Marathon County Health Department and a member of the Central Wisconsin Offroad Cycling Coalition. Look for his blaze orange fat bike on the trail! Email Aaron Ruff
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