Although I’m forty-five years old, new activities and adventures still stir a stronger pulse inside my veins. The setting of my latest endeavor is the Reforestation Camp, as I visit the Brown County Park often, mainly to cross-country ski. As I sought shelter after a cold day, I noticed ten fat-tire bikes nestled in a corner, assumingly available for rental. Naturally, I wanted to give this a try.
A fat-tire bike is simply as it states, a bicycle with wide forks to fit plumper tires. Typically, the air pressure inside the tire resides around 8-10 psi. The softer and wider tires allows them to adhere to delicate surfaces such as sand, snow and mud. This makes journeys across any terrain possible, well almost any.
So, when I found that the Reforestation Camp (located near the NEW Zoo in Suamico, WI) rented these I had to find out more. What I found is that the availability of these bikes is rather limited. One has to wait till the lodge has an attendant, being weekends from 9am-5pm. Rental availability is on a first come first serve basis.
If you have your own fat tire bike, the trailhead is located at the backside of the parking lot across from the NEW Zoo entrance. One must ensure that the trails are open before riding the paths. The distance of the trails ranges from 2-6 miles.
I drive towards the reforestation camp on a morning perfect for winter sports, a sunny day with temps in the mid twenties. As I reach the packed parking lot, I feel a deep yearning to ski. Yet, I’ve chosen something different for my physical activity this morning.
I step inside the lodge and immediately address the woman at the counter. I simply state that I want to give fat-tire biking a try. She presents a waiver form. I feel a little nervous when I read that I’m responsible for any damages to the bike, as there is a pre and post ride inspection.
I figure if I crash it will be on snow. So, I shrug and sign the waiver. After that, I pay my twenty- one dollars and some odd change for the hour rental(its $15.00+tax for each additional hour). I ask for directions to the trailhead, which turns out to be not as convenient as I’d prefer.
The trek towards the bike-trail is definitely the most challenging part of my quest. It’s filled with deep snow and ruts from previous riders. I fall off the bike more than once. At times, with the deep snow, I am left with no choice but to walk the bike. Needless to say I’m discouraged.
When I reach the trail, I discover they are not groomed. The fresh snow would be cool but there are a few tracks amongst the fresh powder. As I’ve just learned, this makes traversing the snow tougher. Yet once I get going I’m having a blast and fall off only once.
The difficulty with getting back on a fat-tire bike after a fall is the that the rear tire sometimes spins. More than once, I fell trying to get started because of the slip the spinning wheel provided. However, struggles are all part of the fun when trying something new.
When I return my unblemished bike I’m panting. The attendant gives the bike a quick look over and I return to my car. Like I said, getting out and riding a bike in the snow is a blast. I urge anyone who knows how to ride a bike to give it a try.
The Reforestation camp also offers snowmobile, cross country ski and snowshoe trails. There are no rentals for any of these activities however. If you own the proper gear, the forecast for the next few days calls for perfect conditions to get out and give these a try.