Big Fat Tire: Trail collisions give mountain biking a bad name |

Big Fat Tire: Trail collisions give mountain biking a bad name

For over 20 years the Summit Fat Tire Society has been taking care of trails in Summit County and Mike Zobbe(pictured) has been there since the beginning. Why? "Cause I like mountain biking. It's totally selfish."
Sebastian Foltz / file photo |

It didn’t seem like it was ever going to get here, but it seems summer has finally arrived. I think it’s time to take the snow tires off. The higher elevation trails are still melting out. Some of the above-tree-line trails are still under several feet of snow, but, if you haven’t noticed, the creeks and rivers are crankin’! This is a good thing because I was putting a lot of miles on my car in the quest for dirt under my tires.

The trails are melting out, but that doesn’t mean all trails are dry along their entire length. Trail conditions can change a lot with just a change in aspect, tree cover or elevation. With all the late-season moisture, there can be ground water percolating up, creating boggy areas that might take a while to dry up. Please, remember respectful riding practices, and keep the singletrack single!


Before I go on to happier topics, I want to reiterate something I wrote about last week. On bikes, descenders need to yield to climbers. Two friends, one while climbing Barney Ford, and another while climbing Mike’s Trail, were involved in collisions with descenders who weren’t riding with enough control to avoid a collision, much less come to a stop. One of these friends is very pregnant! This is not cool — not cool at all. We all need to provide the peer pressure to our friends and riding buddies that we all ride with respect and restraint on multi-use trails. I hate that this is something that I need to rant about, and I know that the large majority of people out there act responsibly; but, some folks don’t seem to be getting the message, and we all need to be part of the solution.

Trail projects

Summer means trail projects. There are many opportunities to give back to your trails this summer. The Summit Fat Tire Society’s web page has a good list of dates. I always say if everyone who rides mountain bikes gave just one day a year to trail work, our trails wouldn’t have perpetual bogs or braids because people are going around ruts. Rather than struggling to keep up with maintenance, we’d be able to devote resources to new trails, maybe some of those more “progressive” trails that a portion of the MTB community wants. So, please get out there, and pitch in!


I’ve been thinking more and more about how cool it would be to do multi-day trips into the wilds on a bike. Whenever the Colorado Trail races begin, I start to dream of traveling through primitive country and setting up camp surrounded by tall peaks. This would be high adventure. Bikebacking is the mountain-biking version of backpacking. It’s a small, but growing — albeit slowly — niche in the MTB world. Most of the gear is the same as lightweight backpacking, but the methods of carrying that gear are specific to bikes. Seat bags, frame bags, handlebar bags — you name it, there are many ways for you to spend your money.

Now, lugging food and camping gear around on a bike might not be for everyone, so there are huts. In a little less than a week, I’m doing the Telluride-to-Moab, hut-to-hut tour in the San Juan Huts system. Even though I work for Summit Huts Association and have skied into huts hundreds of times and done many winter hut to hut trips, I have never done a multi-day hut-to-hut tour on a mountain bike, and I’m very excited.

There are many huts in Colorado offering all kinds of summer-recreation opportunities, including mountain biking. The well-known Summit and 10th Mountain huts have huts that are open in the summer and have many fine opportunities for bike tours. Most huts are not far from a road, usually of the primitive-Jeep variety, so the possibility of vehicle support to carry gear exists if you can get someone to drive.

One exception is Janet’s Cabin (Shameless plug alert, I manage Janet’s Cabin), which is located just off the Colorado Trail. The San Juan huts are different from the 10th and Summit in that they have food and sleeping bags at the huts included in the rental cost, so you can travel a lot lighter.

Mike Zobbe is the president of the Summit County Fat Tire Society ( He writes a weekly summer-season column on mountain biking for the Summit Daily.

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