Snowbiking in Yellowstone, A comeback, and my opinions

Granted spring is just around the corner, but for the folks who call Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming home, this is becoming a big ticket issue.  So I pose the question that many others have already asked: should snow bikes be allowed in Yellowstone during the winter?  I first caught wind of all this from my buddy Chad who owns a bike shop in Hamilton, MT.  The Billings Gazette wrote an article about snow bikers getting turned from riding in Yellowstone.

“I thought it would be cool to go into Yellowstone on our bicycles, so I called the front gate and told them about snow bikes,” DeVall said.

DeVall was referred to a ranger who told him that bikes aren’t allowed into the park in winter.

“It’s not one of the approved means of winter travel,” said Tim Reid, Yellowstone’s chief ranger.

Under Yellowstone’s winter management plan, the only ways to enter the park in winter are by approved snowmobiles and snowcoaches, on cross-country skis or snowshoes.

In my opinion if snowmobiles, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing is allowed, bikes should be allowed as well.  The greater issue should be more about making sure that everyone’s safety is top concern, and there are minimal chances of crashes and near crashes between snowmobiles and bicycles.  However, my opinion is seldom correct, or presented in a well written manner.  For that I offer you a link to an opinion piece written by Mr. Scott Fitzgerald who owns Fitzgeralds Bicycles in Jackson, WY, and has played a large role in the cycling-centric development of Victor, ID. If the link doesn’t work, check out this blog posting to see the article. Feel free to share your opinion, and remember, try to place nice.

In other cycling news that doesn’t involve Surly Pugsleys, it appears that 1984 Olympic Road Racing gold medalist, Alexi Grewal is making a comeback at professional road cycling.  I have no memory of what that 1984 Olympic Road Race was like, I was only -5 days old, and therefore would be unable to provide a comment somewhat along the lines of “when he won that Olympic race in 1984 I had so much national pride.”  But I was old enough in 2008 to remember  when Alexi Grewal wrote a piece for VeloNews explaining the role that doping played in his racing career as well as his personal life.

The fear of doping hit me for real the day I dropped into the continental professional scene. From day one with Panasonic-Raleigh it was made known that “The Program” was the high and holy way, salvation open to all, and required of all to survive and win. Faux doctors like Ruud Bakker, no more than pseudo-credentialed soigneurs, introduced me to the gospel of champions. That all of them said and took the Holy Vow. Team director Peter Post, as the high priest, intoned that I must listen to the “doctor” and submit to the “Preparation.” Our syringes came gift wrapped in the morning and evening during stage races, and in the 2007 Tour de France one of my former roommates sat behind the wheel of a team car pulling feathers out of his hair

My prayer and heart is that if, and I still hope that that day comes, that my son desires to taste the “King of Sports” that he can do so knowing that somewhere along the line and in some fashion I came clean and was willing at least once to speak out and do something so that what I saw and experienced is not what he will. He deserves that and it is required of me. And I think I am not alone. I did enough time in the game to know how it was and who did what. All of us who were there, and who can speak up, should do so. It is such a paradox that the sport that has the most potential to reform addicts, to help them to connect with long-fried neural pathways from such things as methamphetamine, is the sport that is so filled with performance-enhancing drugs.

Granted this confession and explanation took place over 20 years after Grewal’s Olympic glory, but I guess it’s better to come clean at some point, as opposed to living a lie for the rest of your life.  I guess the two big question now regrading his comeback are, 1.) does this 50 year old man still have the strength to complete with guys half his age? and 2.) will the other racers accept him considering all the mistakes he has made?  According to Grewal, he feels like he can keep up in the races, but only the actual races will be a proper yardstick to measure his current strength.  And as far as being accepted back into the peleton, well your guess is as good as mine.  All I can really say with any amount of truth is that it will be interesting to see how this comeback unfolds.

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About 40 Hands

A fan of riding bikes with one gear, malt liquor, riding without knowing how many miles I’ve covered, and strip clubs that let you bring your own keg. I typically have a stupid grin on my face, it is because deep down I know that no matter what, my mom thinks I’m cool. Denver, Colorado, USA

31 thoughts on “Snowbiking in Yellowstone, A comeback, and my opinions

  1. 40 pound snow bikes????

    I understand they have to be beefy, but 40 pounds? Are you shitting me? Try grunting that up a steep incline. You’ll need a big diesel engine like Jan Ullrich. Sure, they should be allowed in the park, but XC skis are the best way to travel in the winter unless you hit the steeps. Then you take out the snowshoes.

    I’ve tried it and honestly think riding bikes in the snow is for masochists.

  2. The saga of cycling has dipped to a new low. Not that Alexi is not worth the spit, but shit man, this chamois reeks of 1984 and that ain’t infotainment.

  3. I learned long ago to never underestimate “old-man strength”.

    As for bikes in Yellowstone, why not get some snowshoes or cross-country skis and leave the bike at home? To be fair, I don’t think snowmobiles should be allowed in the park, at all. I’m with Tony on the snowbikes, too. How do they fair in 2 ft deep snow? There is no way a mortal could push a 4″ wide tire through that much gnar gnar. Are they only good on groomers? Well, I’ll keep my snowshoes for the winter and the rubber rollies for the non-snowy times.

  4. Yea, rogbie’s right. I wouldn’t put a fist past him either. At age 50 it’s a pretty cool comeback docudrama, but some his spew is cat-3 at best.

  5. Nothing better than snow biking IMHO!!!
    I live in northern Mn. with plenty of bitter cold, and snow; so I may be somewhat biased. I just never got into skiing in any form, and I do own snowshoes, but my Pugsley trumps all when winter fun comes calling.
    My bike comes in at 38#’s and I’m a stronger rider for it!!
    Anyway, if I was worried a weight I would’ve bought one of them, what ya call them?? Oh yeah, road bikes!! ;)
    To each their own when it comes to pedaling, just get out and pedal!!!
    Snow bikes and their “Fat” tires don’t hurt a thing, except the wallet when ya need a new set. Actually in some cases they are better than skinny tires, for soft or unrideable terrain.


  6. I’m not so sure Alexi Grewal won’t have the horsepower. Sure, he may not win much at the CAT I-II or Pro level, but talent is talent. And the legs don’t forget. I’m a bit interested in this, if only to see how much genetics really does carry the man in athletics. Once proven (and he is that), will the years have been kind? I have seen some gnarly old dudes in my time, dudes with tons of class who just keep going. He could be one of those.

    As they say, we’ll see.

    Update: He’s doing Redlands, Gila, and Iron Horse. Wow. Pretty cool. This is going to be good stuff.

  7. Well, snowbikes have taken off here in Ottawa, Canada. Between Pugsleys and Mukluks our local shops have sold about 12 bikes this season versus bout 1 or 2 per season each of the last few years.

    We have been riding on a local trail system shared with walkers, snowshoers and some skiers. The fact is that once the trail gets somewhat compacted by the other users (shooers and skiers mostly) the fatbikes really smooth out the trails. These trails have become more of a flow show now than in the summer as a result.

    We had about 10 folks out on last night’s ride. I was the only one on a fat bike. Despite it’s weight it flows really nice and the big contact patch of the tires means better traction in the short climbs and they absorb the gnar in postholed sections of trail.

    Not great if the powder is loose and deep through – you still get bogged down.

    I’ll say this – it beats doing spin classes, riding rollers or commuting on studded tires in traffic ANY DAY.

  8. There are conditions that favour snowbiking. The same conditions don’t favour skis.

    If a warm spell is followed by a cold snap the skiing sucks but those are perfect conditions for snowbiking. These conditions are even suitable for regular mountain bikes.

    It’s my understanding also that the pugsley thing merely broadens the margins of acceptable conditions. eg. snowshoe trails.

    But I don’t disagree. If the conditions are favourable, then skiing is the way.

  9. …be interesting to see if ‘lexi can pull it off…

    …i would imagine that given his background & even his ego, he’ll be able to get up to speed at some point but i’m betting he’s gonna need more recovery time after each serious effort…

    …redlands & gila are short stage races & i’m wondering if the guy will get stronger as the days go on or will he get whipped & wiped over the period of a few days…

    …iron horse might be his best bet if he sticks it all on the durango to silverton race…short duration, 47 miles, 6800 feet of climbing (‘lexi lives n’ trains at altitude) & the dangling carrot on the stick just might be perpetual front runner deadly nedley overend, he hisself no youngster…

    …go for it, bodhisattva…

  10. I dig the alexi comeback
    but i worry he might crash out the field
    alexi might be the new eon-pro

  11. It sounds like he’s still blaming circumstance instead of his own actions. Too bad he “lost” that medal before he had a chance to turn it over to its rightful owner. Anyway, it will be fun to watch Ned kick his ass at Mt Evans. “old-man strength” is no match for “older-man strength”.

  12. I’m an old man. 61 If grewal thinks at 50 he can compete then god love him he should try. I suspect some of those drugs he did have altered his brain as well as his performance. OH and by the way although the US team did blood dope in 1984 lets not forget that it wasn’t illegal then.

  13. 40 pound bike is heavy? How much extra are you carrying on your ass? Find out, then get back to me.

    And if 40 pounds is too much bicycle to ride, ‘splain me how loaded tourers even get out of their driveways.

  14. I have no clue what my ‘dale m400 weighs. With the back rack filled with tools, water and sangwiches it has to be way north of 40.

    But since I’m way north of 240 right now I guess it doesn’t matter.

    Still seem to get around ok.

    Oh good Lawd. Did I just agree with joe ?

    Maybe we are just an echo ?

  15. fff, when you talk about bikes you are usually spot-on. Probably because you ride and shit, which is a good thing. You should still ride fixed gear more than anything else. It’s crazy fun and is the best workout ever.

    When you talk about some other stuff, not so much. But I’ve a feeling you’ll grow out of it.

  16. I’m OK on bikes ?

    My take on bikes is they are orange and don’t break down too often.

    My take on the rest of the World is basically fucked.

    Se we agree to disagree ?

  17. Se ?? Where did that brain-fart come from ?

    “So we agree to disagree”.

    I am Wee Todd Did.
    I am Sofa King Wee Todd Did.

  18. impressive words from grewal. wondering if he is actually capable of competing at a high level now? hope so — his name is on the Redlands Bicycle Classic composite rider list…. wonder if he will get picked up? not bye us….

  19. …kent ‘fucking’ bostick ???…dude was/is a motherfucker…a pretty phenomenal motherfucker…

    …lived here in marin for a number of years (roommate of g-fish) then went down to the south-west where he conveniently forgot to age & set more records than you could shaklee a stick at…

  20. Waitaminnitt, here, bgw-“…conveniently forgot to age…”? Seems that’s a trick I should be able to master with ease. Hell, I manage to forget just about everything else.


  21. Sure we’ll be having a similar conversation about a repentent Armstrong 10 years from now when he makes next “comeback”. Something to be said for retiring, getting fat and staying retired a la Merckx and Lemond (minus some of the over the top bitterness in Lemond’s case).

  22. Great article, thanks for the links. I agree that if anything motorized is allowed on the trail, then bikes should be, too. Some trails exclude bicyclists; horses and hikers only – and there’s nothing wrong with that.
    However, if someone can spew 2 stroke fumes, they should be able to use a human powered means of ‘recreation’

  23. …here’s a little bio for kent bostick…it’s by way of shaklee corp & a bit thick on their product promo ‘cuz he rode for their cycling team for many years but nonetheless it is quite impressive…

    …maybe bostick, grewal & overend can bring a few other old amigos in & form ‘team too old to remember to quit’

  24. I think horses are more destructive to the trail than bikes, plus you never heard of a bicycle kicking a hiker. That, and bicicles don’t shit all over the trail.

  25. It is not a question of whether Alexi can handle the race. Rather, can the race handle Alexi.

    Dirt Baller.

  26. Just gotta say…being a Bozeman resident and a ex yellowstone employee of three and a half years I would like to say it’s ridiculous that bikes aren’t allowed. The snowmobile trails that are there are so dang hard packed sometimes (sometimes) you wouldn’t even need a pugsley to get around, just a mtb. I actually worked with some employees at the time at of snow lodge who commuted by bicycle instead of skis on non powder days. Granted there is definitely the danger of getting caught in extreme snowfall there but if research has been done….let bikes in. I’ve seen the damage of snowmobiles there…they should be happy to have bikes. There were days working at the snow lodge that the snowmobile exhaust was so bad there was a brown cloud hovering over old faithful. Kind of like a week of no wind in phoenix. Way worse than the summer time when cars were there….I could go on….but rambling is boring. Anyway…you get my point. Not allowing bikes there in the winter is a bad decision. And kudos to those rockin those snow bikes. I keep looking at the one in the local bike shop window wishing I had a extra grand to spend. Would be real nice to ride around on instead of running my wheels on low air. (really haven’t needed studs on thud Bozeman ice rink yet) oh…and another thing about snow bikers..,,you are almost as bad ass as cross racers and as cool as rap music…and taste as good as frozen gummy bears.

  27. I thought they limit the number of sleds allowed in Y-stone? And, they only allow 4-strokes? Hard to believe that could leave a cloud of smog, damn. I’ve got three 4-stroke sleds, and they are WAY better on emissions than the old-school shit. However, that is beside the point…YES YES YES bikes should be allowed. EVERYWHERE.

  28. Pingback: The Push for Snowbiking in Yellowstone - Fitzgerald’s Bicycles