Two things conspired this winter to create a new project for the Potawatomi Mountain Biking Association (PotoMBA):
- An epic Michigan winter with record-breaking snowfalls; and,
- The Rise of the Fat Bike.
With these two things in mind, we wanted to see if we could create a winter route at Pinckney Rec Area which would provide a trail tread that better optimized winter recreational use for both skiers and fat bikers.
In order to create this winter trail tread, our goal was to create a more uniform, compacted, sustainable and homogenous trail surface that would make the trail more user-friendly. We wanted to create a white “flow trail” carpet on which fat bikers could hammer and xc skiers could glide, unencumbered by vagaries in trail surface.
To establish our smooth white ribbon, we determined that we’d need to groom the trail surface, much like dedicated cross-country ski areas groom their trails – we’d need to deaerate the snow, compact it back down and even out the surface of the trail tread. The problem? The trails at Pinckney Rec are narrow, singletrack trails, many of which were more narrow, twisty and off-camber than at traditional groomed cross-country ski areas. The solution? To commission a one-off singletrack trail groomer that could be used at Pinckney Rec.
The PotoMBA engaged local backcountry skier, mountain biker and machine-shop prototyping wiz Gary Helzerman of Helzemco Ltd. to create our one off singletrack groomer. After many hours of consulting with various experienced groomers and assessing numerous new school singletrack fat bike trail grooming efforts around the country, Helzerman came up with a design and fabricated the machine.
Any Ski/Bike Club, Trail Manager or Individual looking to acquire a similar singletrack groomer, should contact Helzemco at (734)891-1785.
Beta testing of the grooming unit occurred the last weekend of February 2014 at Pinckney Rec Area. After some experimenting, we established a solid evening groom process that allows the trail to set-up overnight. The test was a success! With the enthusiastic support of the Pinckney Rec Area Manager, we plan to continue to groom a trail route at Pinckney Rec during the winter(s), as conditions allow.
The proximate 5 mile trail route runs down Silver Hill Road from the Silver Lake Unit Parking Lot to the intersection of the Crooked Lake Trail. From there, the trail follows Crooked Lake in a loop back to Silver Hill Road.
The Important Stuff:
Please Purchase Your Trail Grooming “Badge”
While Helzemco was kind enough to extend PMBA the credit to accomplish this groom program, we need everyone who will enjoy the use of this trail – skiers, fat bikers and other users – to chip in to pay for the groomer unit costs and maintenance, as well as, those of the snowmobile utilized to pull the unit, generously donated for grooming use by PMBA Member Mike Niemi.
So, please make a donation to our grooming effort via PayPal by clicking the following button to earn your virtual trail “badge”:
While groomed trails are open to foot, bike and skiing non-motorized uses, and there are no official “laws of trail use”, we’d ask users to respect The Art of Good Floatation. “Good Floatation” means that you are treading lightly on the trail surface, thus keeping it in good condition by not putting huge post hole divots or “pizza cuts” in the trail tread. In order to facilitate this, please observe IMBA Fat Biking Best Practices when using the trail: https://www.imba.com/resources/land-protection/fat-bikes. Skiers – mind your speed and yield to hikers. Hikers and trail runners – please refrain from using the trail if it is soft enough for your boot/shoe to significantly divot (aka “post hole”) the trail tread.