Famed Vermont rider Knight Ide rides his favorite summer downhill trail, Burke Mountain’s Jester, in the dead of winter.
In the early iterations of the Winter X Games, before the dust had settled on which new, rowdy, extreme winter sport would take hold in the public’s eye and actually have a sizeable enough participant base to produce exciting competitions, Disney’s wizards tried all kinds of shit. Among the more short-lived events were shovel racing and snow mountain biking, where pros and amateurs alike mounted home-made studs onto summer singletrack tires and attempted to navigate a ski slalom course. The appeal, for both fans and ESPN, was largely the carnage that would result from mountain bikers trying to stay on top of their bikes while going over hay-bale jumps on soft snow.
But while fat bikes may be all the rage for bike fanatics who can’t help but spend at least $1700 on a new toy so they can rage the sidewalks and cross country ski trails around town, the lean winter in more than a few parts of the country has led to a minor resurgence in taking an actual mountain bike, or something like it, on an actual ski mountain and shredding real ski trails. With climate change threatening the plentitude of consistent powder days, will snow biking be all the rage on TGR come 2050? A couple potential Winter Olympic events could include:
Snowbike Slalom/Snowbike Super D. Bikers could assault boardercross-ish courses like the Dirksen Dirby snowboard course above, racing for time or in a group format a la mountain biking’s Super D. Extra points for avoiding injuries from tire studs.
Nordic Snow Biking. Wintertime fat bike races are popping up like wildfires across the Nordic ski trails of ski areas across the country. Since you can’t actually shred fresh pow despite your five inch tires, you might as well bore yourself to tears doing laps around a flat cross country circuit. Yawn. On the other hand, they could up the ante biathlon-style and force the athletes to make several stops to compete in small arms fire accuracy, grenade lobbing, and close-quarters combat. Hello, ratings!!!
Snow Bike Growler Racing. Really, the redeeming quality of these new fat bikes is that they sell bottle cages that fit an entire growler. As such, I propose an out-and-back race where racers must send it to a designated brewery, fill up with the heaviest IPA available, and race back. Your time is stopped when you arrive at the finish line with an empty growler, necessitating the ability to down 64 ounces of thick microbrew at your VO2 max.
Big Mountain Snowbiking. This video attests to the real possibilities for shredding "the backcountry" on a French-bornSnowscoot, which takes a modified bike frame and suspension and mounts it on two ends of a snowboard. I will admit that my inner child is very attracted to railing slashes on these weird devices.
Snowbike Slopestyle. I mean, the knee-jerk reaction is to consider the Snowscoot – or any of the other bike-like creations ski resorts try to pandle on their customers bored of actually skiing – a kook’s hobby, but you gotta respect how hard Hervé Bonnefont is shredding on this ridiculous toy. Backflips, front-flips, triple tailwhips, all on ski jumps, and even a respectable looking pow run… I’m starting to feel like a convert, and a potential (Sunday Minor) Olympic (League for Amateurs) champion!