EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)- Eau Claire County is testing out a new program for a growing outdoor sport in our area.
The program is expanding the areas fat bike riders are able to use during the winter.
If you're unaware of what a fat bike is, they're bikes with tires that are about 3 inches wide or more; and it’s an increasingly growing sport in our area, which is one of the main reasons the county is expanding what trails fat bike riders can use here at Lowes Creek Park.
“We see more fat bikes at Lowes Creek Park than we do, I don't want to say more than regular mountain bikes, we're seeing the ratio increase of mountain bikes to fat bikes of people that use fat bikes year round as to just in the winter time,” said Josh Pedersen, the Eau Claire County Director of Parks and Forest.
And local bike shops have noticed the increase.
“Inquiries daily basis for sure,” said Kyle Retallick, the store manager at Erik’s Bike Shop in Eau Claire. “We'll send them out on a test ride; a lot of those people are coming back and buying those as well. It’s one of our biggest categories in overall sales.”
The new program is a partnership between Eau Claire County, the Chippewa Off Road Bike Association (CORBA) and Eau Claire Ski Striders. This year fat bike riders are allowed to use groomed skate trails.
“The classic track is the two track system here, it’s for a skier doing Nordic style; then skate skiing is all the rest of that trail system, this rolled flat and the skiers can go up and down and that's the area that fat bikers are allowed to utilize,” Laura Plummer said, the Eau Claire County board representative for CORBA, as she explained which trails fat bike riders can use.
Of course there are rules. All tires must be 3.5 inches or wider; fat bike riders cannot use the trails if it’s warmer than 30 degrees and they must yield to all other trail users.
“This park is used by so many different user groups that it's an ideal setting to test the waters and see how the skiers and fat bikers to get along,” Plummer added.
The pilot program is going to continue throughout the winter.
The county plans to meet back up in March to assess how it went and they're hoping it goes well so they can adopt it in the future.
The county is also encouraging folks to send in feedback throughout the season.