Just 6 miles and 1400 vertical ft above Spearfish is an area called Big Hill. It has been an XC ski area since the late 70s due to its proximity to town that is the closest place that holds snow all winter. A few years ago we started grooming the areas adjacent to the ski trails for FAT bikes, It took a couple years to get the system figured out and still tweaking it. Groomed trails run up and down small draws, through aspen meadows and pine forest, twisty and challenging, both to ride and groom. Myself having skied extensively in most every corner of the planet, and groomed lots of snow myself, I had an idea on how to make it work, but there was a couple years of tweaking things to get it right.
In 2016 RMS upgraded equipment and bought a new utility snowmobile that can pull heavy equipment over the river and through the woods to compact snow enough to ride on. Shortly after, a fundraising site was started to help off set the costs of equipment. Another development was the Forest Service approved the trails to be used annually through a special use permit already in place for the Black Hills Nordic Ski Club https://www.facebook.com/BHNSC/ , rather than just a trial basis. So now we work with the USFS Spearfish Ranger District together as we continue to improve area XC skiing and FAT Biking.
The 2017-18 season has left us with a late start, about 15″ of dry snow and it is 7 Dec. 🙁 . The good new is the trails are ready thanks to many people who cleared the windfall trees off the trails, and all the equipment is ready to groom. This year we know we have to initially pack the snow wider than the track the fat bike groomer makes of 30″. This will keep the groomers from falling off the groomed surface and burying the snowmobile in the “swim snow” to the sides. Also there have been many sharp corners and steeper areas removed that make for a faster more fun ride and easier to groom, which will allow more for us to train more people to groom spreading the load out work wise. It takes 5-6 hrs to pack 13 miles of trail after a 8″ snow, and it still needs to cure for a day after to become optimal for Fat Biking.
What grooming equipment do we use?: A Ski Doo Skandic 900 SWT ACE. Quiet, powerfult gas sipping 4 stroke with 90hp and a 2 ft wide track weighing in at 1100 lbs with operator and fuel. We have a front mounted winch for those bad situations. Every seen a train derail? Thats kind of what this thing looks like after taking a dive.
The groomer we use is the Yellowstone Track Systems 30″ Compaction Drag. It works best for the dry deep snow west of the Mississippi. We have two 100lb weights we put in the compaction drag pan and then some, when making final slow pass, the groomer itself weighs 210 lbs, it feels heavier when wanking it out of powder snow. It planes and compacts the snow. One note for people planning Fat bike routes, is a single tracked vehicle can not handle much of a side hill, short sections of 7 percent is about all they can handle. For shallower snow areas where you have less of a base, the roller compactors are the ticket. For example if your snow comes and goes throughout the season, a roller is probably the best groomer. The YTS needs to sink into the snow a bit to compact best, so areas that have a “base” for the season and you never see the ground, I recommend the YTS pictured below if you have the power to pull it, definitely an industrial use groomer.
For People wishing to make FAT bike trails in areas with a high moisture/high density snow about any home made thing will get the job done to some extent. For those who live in “Rocky Mountain” area where the snow is very dry, you need to do some $ investing in equipment to get a good surface.
We do not live near a resort or metropolitan area that supports extremely excellent recreation like FAT Biking. The great new is RMS does! Here in Spearfish, SD our Bike shop, RMS has and is taking full responsibility for having the best trails possible 24/7 through March 15th when the USFS conditional use permit runs out for the season. If would like to be a part of this we would appreciate your support. We have the regions largest and best selection of FAT Bikes, gear, and experience. Every time you purchase bike and gear from RMS you are also supporting continual bicycle advocacy locally and countless hours of trail creation.
https://www.gofundme.com/Spearfish-FAT-Bike-trail-pass?utm_medium=wdgt<object classid=”clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000″ width=”258″ height=”338″ title=”Click Here to donate!” type=”application/x-shockwave-flash”><param name=”movie” value=”/Widgetflex.swf” /><param name=”quality” value=”high” /><param name=”flashvars” value=”page=Spearfish-FAT-Bike-trail-pass&template=11″ /><param name=”wmode” value=”transparent” /><embed allowScriptAccess=”always” src=”/Widgetflex.swf” quality=”high” flashVars=”page=Spearfish-FAT-Bike-trail-pass&template=11″ type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” wmode=”transparent” width=”258″ height=”338″></embed></object>