Fat Tire Riding in the Black Hills


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Don’t let a little snow keep you off your bike and the trails this winter! One thing we love here at the Powder House is the number of outdoor activities available to us in the Black Hills. Once thought of as a spring and summer sport, cyclists are now hitting the snow covered trails thanks to fat tire designs. Fat Bikes or Snow Bikes are popping up all over cycling communities and the Black Hills are not immune to the new craze.

 While it may seem challenging to ride through the snow and ice on your bike, fat tires, essentially, studded snow tires for your bike, allow riders to climb and ride through the woods with ease. Gone are the days of waiting for the snow to melt before taking a spin. Cyclist can now enjoy the trails and get a little exercise in during the winter months as well.

Riding in the winter presents a few extra challenges than typical fair weather riding. Ice, snow and slush conditions must be considered and maneuvered with care. Because fat tires are high volume with some larger than 3 inches wide, the tires function great with very low pressure and are able to keep you from sinking into the snow only to become stuck. Icy terrain can be overcome with studded versions of these tires which offer maximum traction and allow riders to stop without slips and climb on otherwise slick spots.

While winter riding is gaining popularity in the Black Hills, it also comes with a few challenges. When done properly, riders are using the trail when it is protected by a layer of snow. Trails can be damaged when riders choose to ride in muddy conditions which can scar the trails and cause them to disintegrate. While it can be tempting to take your fat tires out for a muddy ride, the dedicated biking community in the Black Hills works hard to maintain the trail systems through the use of countless volunteer hours. Rider courtesy discourages the use of trails and this kind of riding in muddy conditions. Many trail heads will post notices of trail conditions and user restrictions.

Aside from varying trail conditions, there are other things to consider before heading out for your ride. Knowing how to dress for winter activity is very important. You may be cold and want to bundle up at the beginning of your ride, but as you get going you will find your body heating up. Be sure to dress in breathable layers that are easy to take on and off. A proper base layer will keep you warm and dry. You want a base layer that will wick sweat away from your body so that your sweat does not sit on your skin and chill you.  Wear just enough clothes to be slightly chilled before you start pedaling. Your next layer should protect you from wind and rain. A light water/wind proof jacket will do the trick. Don’t forget warm wool socks for your feet and gloves for your hands. A winter hat under your bike helmet will keep you warm and safe.

 

There are many trails in the Black Hills cyclists can enjoy during the winter months. Storm Mountain and the Coon Hollow trail system are located ten minutes away from the Powder House Lodge.  The trailhead is marked by a turnoff near Rockerville on South Highway 16. The system offers a challenging loop that takes riders to expansive views atop Storm Mountain.  Hansen-Larson Memorial Park in nearby Rapid City also offers riders a user friendly trail system to enjoy. Be sure to observe all trail closings and notices. Be respectful of our trails in the Black Hills so that you and others may enjoy them year round!

 

The Powder House is located in Keystone South Dakota and nestled in the beautiful Black Hills. Situated in the heart of the hills and surrounded by miles of trails and open land, visitors have the opportunity to enjoy plenty of winter recreation activities suitable for all ages and abilities. The Black Hills are a beautiful destination year round. Consider a trip to South Dakota for your winter getaway. 


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