Despite the weather, cycling continues throughout the winter months with fat tire bicycles. The larger tires make some terrain easier to traverse like the winter snow. Over the past 5 years, the popularity of the fat tire bike has gone up significantly in the La Crosse area.
"I'm never not smiling when I'm riding these bikes," said Smith's Bike Shop Owner Erik Pueschner. "People like to play outside. You know, there's a lot of cyclists and mountain bikers in the area and this just helps them continue their season in a different way."
But even with a fat tire bike, riding through fresh snow can be a lot of work. That's why the Outdoor Recreation Alliance grooms the trails in Upper Hixon Forest with a small track machine. The machine pulls its rider in a small sled and 3 heavy weights on a flat and textured "drag" behind to spread and compact snow. Normally this sort of thing is done with a snowmobile, but the size of the Hixon Trails is limited.
"It's a very small unit," said Josh Blum, one of the trail volunteers. "It lets us get into the woods where a regular snowmobile can't fit. So this specific machine allows us to groom more trails than we normally could otherwise."
The 7 miles of bike trails normally would have to be done manually with snowshoes. Now it only takes one rider and half a day's work to the delight of winter cyclists.
"If you're in really soft snow, it's just really slow and it's not as much fun," said Blum. "So just like cross country skiing, you prefer to be on a groomed surface."
The Outdoor Recreation Alliance wants to remind hikers to consider trail etiquette. Hiking on these groomed paths can damage the work done to them. They ask that if you do hike a groomed trail, to do so on the side of the trail or to wear snowshoes.