Recently while staying in Bethel Maine, Cathy and I headed out for our biggest snow bike adventure so far on the Charge Bicycles Cooker Maxi fat bikes. We have spent a fair amount of time on the bikes so far and have to admit that we are hooked. We long felt that the bikes excelled in such a small sub category that they really were not a necessity and that they would detract from other great winter activities, such as Nordic skiing, which we also enjoy.
What we have found is quite the contrary. The bikes have allowed us to get out on trail in conditions that a normal MTB really couldn’t handle. Times when trail is packed, but not packed quite firm enough for the comparatively narrow tires of a conventional MTB. It also opens up that one or two days after the storm when the roads are horrible and unsafe and you would otherwise be forced to ride indoors, on of all things, a stationary trainer.
The Charge bikes were the perfect gateway into the sport. They come respectably spec’d with components that are solid and reliable. The bikes have good quality fit and finish and though lightweights by no stretch, are no heavier than comparable bikes. The price is also quite reasonable, making the jump into the discipline less painful. Talk to Chris at the shop if interested or contact Cathy, myself or any other BSBL Racing team member as a number of us have them. We would be happy to talk or let you check the bikes out.
Anyhow, back to the ride. We discovered from the ride the night before that the trails were in excellent shape so we (I secretly) decided to do the full Albany loop, a snowmobile trail that the Greenstock Snowsports club, which we have long been members of, maintains some fairly remote areas of Western Maine. Most have probably never been there and frankly would have no reason to be there unless sledding or hunting. Portions were tough and there was quite a bit of sustained climbing, some of which was too steep to ride. According to the GPS, we saw section about 30%, which were at times even tough to walk.
Overall a stellar trip on great trails though rugged wilderness, affording some good views. Yet another truly wonderful afternoon adventure. The GPS map of the ride can be seen here on Strava. Keep in mind, many of these routes are extremely remote. There are no houses for many miles and you are in the middle of large expanses of wilderness. Some have no cell service. Be prepared as you are responsible for yourself.
Also, if you plan to ride snowmobile trails on your fat bikes, remember that the snowmobile clubs are the ones who secure permission for access from individual landowners. They also pay to maintain the trails. Unlike the roadways, we have no inherent rights to these trail systems. We are guests. Don’t be unwanted guests. Yield the trail to snowmobiles. Wave and be courteous. Fat bikes are an oddity so when engaged in conversations about them, which happens frequently, be pleasant and talk it up. Maybe we will get some converts. Remember, you are ambassadors to the sport. Lastly, do the research to find the snowmobile club who maintains the trail systems you frequent. Then join the club. Yearly memberships are usually a small amount and believe me, they can use the money. For club information visit;