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Posted by Michael McGoldrick, Tue Dec 29 2015 at 9:21 pm

Coming to a winter trail near you: Fat Bikes
The latest issue of Ottawa Outdoors magazine has an interesting article about Fat Bike being allowed in the Gatineau Park this winter. At the moment, this is being done as pilot project that will only permit bikes on certain snowshoe trails. 

However, the tone of the article seems to suggest that Fat Bikes have set their goal on gaining access to cross-country ski trails. For example, a cycling association has already issued guidelines indicating that Fat Bike should yield to skiers, and should allow for skiers to pass by not riding side-by-side.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Fat Bikes, they are a new type of bicycle that have extremely wide tires that operate with very low air pressure. They were originally invented in Alaska, and are capable of riding on snow as long as it is somewhat packed.

I have to admit that, as a cyclist, I�m attracted to the idea of pedaling over to the Gatineau Park and being able to ride the trails during the winter.  But I also have to ask myself how many users can be supported by the park�s facilities, given the current level of competition for limited resources.

First of all, there�s the competition for space and facilities between classic and skate skiers. This is most noticeable when skate skiers use trails reserved for classic skiing, or when classic skiers take rest stops on the middle part the trail that is used by skate skiers. Then came the hoards of snowshoers, many of whom are blissfully unaware that they are walking on cross-county ski trails as they explore the park.  On top of this, there�s always those people who, despite the damage they do, insist on using the ski trails to walk into the park with their boots. Add Fat bikes to the mix, and things may really start to get out of hand.

If the popularity of Fat Bikes continues to grow as it has been, it�s clear that people engaged in this activity will be demanding their share of the region�s recreational resources, including those in Gatineau Park. Instead of leaving them to compete for what already exists, maybe it�s time to start thinking about expanding the resources to accommodate the influx of new users.

For the article in Ottawa Outdoors magazine, go to:

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