The Rico Trails Alliance (RTA) will host its second annual Snow Bike Bash, the group’s winter fundraiser, on Saturday, part of the Town of Rico’s weekend-long Winter Carnival.
Highlights of the Winter Carnival include pick-up hockey games Saturday and Sunday at 10:30 a.m. on the ice rink in Rico, yoga at Rico Town Hall on Sunday at 9:30 a.m., and a cross-country ski tour and lessons for all ages Sunday at noon, with skis available for anyone who needs them.
Saturday’s RTA event kicks off in earnest at 2:30 p.m. in Rico Town Park with demo fat bikes from Bootdoctors and Box Canyon Bicycles available before a group fat bike ride takes to some of the winter trails around Rico that RTA established and maintains.
Afterwards, at around 4:30 p.m., there will be a bonfire and nibbles, including Aemono chili, cornbread and sides, and refreshments courtesy of the Telluride Brewing Company and Telluride Distilling Company, as well as RTA schwag for sale.
At 6 p.m., the shindig moves to the Enterprise Bar with live music from Tyler Simmons, Mike Enriquez and Ken Breard of Porch Couch.
RTA members said the Snow Bike Bash not only aims to raise funds for the alliance, which was founded in 2017 to promote local and regional non-motorized trails systems in and around the town, but will also give attendees the opportunity to experience first-hand the fruits of RTA’s labors, including the establishment and maintenance of winter trails and the purchase of trail grooming equipment. It’s also a chance to showcase Rico, the small historic town that sits 30 miles south of Telluride.
“We want to show everyone our future plans and how we have been working with the U.S. Forest Service on winter fat biking trails, along with the summer hiking and biking trails,” RTA Board President Mike Guskea said. “It’s to educate people, but it’s also to get them to come to Rico. People have been loving our events out here. We had 75 at the summer fundraiser. Not a lot of people from nearby get to come to Rico, but when they do, they really enjoy it.”
Board member Alex Wing echoed Guskea’s enthusiasm for the group’s success in establishing the winter trails network and the equipment purchase.
“Getting a more extensive fat biking trail network going in the area is an important priority for RTA,” Wing said. “Fat biking is a fast-growing sport because of the accessibility — anyone who knows how to ride a bike can fat bike — and because it’s a fun way to stay in shape in the winter. Rico gets a lot of snow and stays cold enough to keep it, and its businesses could benefit from the extra visitors in the winter.”
Wing pointed out that Nordic ski areas don’t typically allow fat biking, limiting options for riders. RTA aims to counter that by expanding options around Rico.
Central to RTA’s efforts has been the purchase of grooming equipment — a snowmobile and a Wild Cat groomer — that will make a 30-inch wide, compact path firm enough for fat biking.
“We are focusing primarily on the Rico area, where we complement the Town of Rico’s Nordic grooming up Silver Creek by compacting the left side of the Nordic track,” Wing said. “We also groom a network of off-shoot single-track trails through the woods for an experience closer to mountain biking, along with a section of the old Rio Grande Southern railroad grade on the west side of the river.”
In addition to grooming trails in town, RTA recently received authorization for a pilot project to test groom multi-use Forest Service roads in the area and the Cayton Campground.
“This spring we will be testing grooming up the Dunton Road, Cayton, Scotch Creek Road and Roaring Fork Road, as volunteer time and conditions allow,” Wing said. “The Dunton/Cayton combination has the potential to become world-class fat tire biking. Cayton Campground is a great loop for beginner riders and the Dunton Road is a long gradual climb up to Dunton Meadows, where we will be able to connect into the existing extensive grooming completed by the Dunton Resort.”
Wing remarked that the initiative, currently in its first year, is a test. So far, though, the signs have been positive.
“At this point, we haven’t committed to regular grooming of the USFS roads,” he said. “That being said, when the snow slows down, we should be able to keep a firm track in good shape. … We’ve had an enthusiastic response already. More locals have picked up fat tire bikes this winter and we’ve been spotting people from out of town enjoying our trails.”
He added, “Saturday’s Fat Bike Bash will be a fun way to learn and explore the town trails, and a way for first-timers to try a bike and see if they like it.”
For information on Saturday’s fundraiser and the Rico Trails Alliance, visit ricotrailsalliance.org. Visit ricocolorado.gov for more on the Winter Carnival.