Snow biking takes over Northern Michigan

Kristin Coppens

| 4 min read

In Northern Michigan there is a trend taking hold of the cycling community–not a new product per se, but definitely an adventure gaining momentum. Fat bikes have been around since the late 1980’s in Alaska and are now the fastest growing segment of the bike industry. The bikes have over-sized tires (typically 3.7” or larger and rims wider than 44mm), designed for proper riding over unstable terrain such as snow, or in warmer climates of sand and desert. The bikes are built with frames that accommodate the wider rims. Snow biking uses these fat bikes for winter trail riding.
Along the Lake Superior region and in Traverse City, snow biking has become a community-wide venture. In Traverse City, fat bikes have allowed for four-season cycling and created quite the following with the creation of the Northern Michigan Fat Bike Series.
A bit farther north, in Marquette, a group of three cinematographers/filmmakers have taken the snow biking trend a step further. All from the Upper Peninsula, Aaron Peterson, Dan Englund, and Ryan Stephens make up the brand new production company, Clear & Cold Cinema. As a result of their collaboration, love of scenic Northern Michigan, and pooled skill sets, the film, “Cold Rolled” came to fruition.
“Cold Rolled” showcases snow biking in the Upper Peninsula, specifically along the Lake Superior town of Marquette. The region gets an enormous amount of lake effect snow per year; thus, finding oneself in the snow is a natural progression for bike lovers and individuals hoping to stay active. In fact, as a result of the cycling culture in Marquette, fat bikes are sold in four bike shops in town—a large production for a small town.
The film includes scenes such as “dynamic time lapse nature cinematography, fast paced trail riding, exploratory adventure riding along the frozen shore of the world’s largest lake, and vintage footage of ice and snow BMX tracks,” beams Aaron Peterson, of Clear & Cold Cinema.
In Marquette, the local trails organization is Noquemanon Trails Network (NTN). NTN developed a trail made especially for fat bikes from special techniques and equipment. Peterson explains: “NTN’s Snow Bike Route (SBR) mimics a mountain bike single-track trail (flow trail), which is a type of narrow trail that is fast and smooth, with berm turns that allow riders to rollercoaster through the woods.” The NTN SBR is a 15-mile winter trail for fat bikes.
After Peterson tried the new trail, he realized that it was probably the first of its kind. As his filming experience expanded to the travel experience, he knew it was a natural fit to attempt a short video about this new activity in Marquette. “[I hoped] it would attract visitors or, at the very least, shine a light on the passion for life and the outdoors in the Marquette area,” says Peterson.
The three filmmakers originally planned to produce a simple 3-5 minute video highlighting the new trail. However, through the research they uncovered a great story about the history of winter riding, passion, and dedication that led to the creation of the trail. Needless to say, the film “Cold Rolled” was created as a result. The trio are releasing the film in chapters, and plan to submit it to film festivals.
As Peterson summarizes, “It feels great to promote an active lifestyle and also help boost the travel economy of the Upper Peninsula. It’s a natural fit.”, the local travel bureau, and Salsa Cycles, a manufacturer of fat bikes, both sponsor the film. “Cold Rolled,” will be available on Clear & Cold Cinema’s vimeo channel, along with the weekly installments.
Schedule of Weekly Installments (Live at 8am EST each date):
-Saturday, December 7th—Chapter 1: Intro/Dead River Ride (Global Fat Bike Day)
-Saturday, December 14th—Chapter 2: A Thirty-Year Winter
-Saturday, December 21st—Chapter 3: The Lake Superior Session
-Saturday, December 28th—Chapter 4: MindSparks-Birth of the SBR
-Saturday, January 4th—Chapter 5: The SBR Shred Session
-Saturday, January 11th—Full “Cold Rolled” Film Available
Where is your favorite place in Michigan to go snow biking?
Photo credit: Clear & Cold Cinema

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