Snow-bike tours a new offer for outdoor enthusiasts
Kyle Allred says the best way to master snow biking is to “make your own track.” That’s what he’s trying to achieve with SnowBike Nation, the local team of guides that Allred launched earlier this year.
Its goal is to introduce new enthusiasts to this booming sport, so that at the end of its snowmobile rides, participants are just starting a new adventure. In this way, Allred hopes to make Flathead Valley a hub for activity under the radar.
“It’s still an anomaly,” Allred said.
It’s easy to see why. Essentially a cross between an all-terrain motorcycle and a snowmobile, snowmobiles, also known as wooden sleds, are unlike anything most people have ever seen.
They have the riding capabilities of a snowmobile, coupled with the sleek handling of a dirt bike. They can squeeze through tight trees and plow deep powder, but only if you can get your hands on their heated handlebars.
Ready-to-use snow bikes are still not commercially available in any store. Future snowbikers should attach snowmobile kits to their own off-road motorcycles or arrange for a store to assemble the parts for them.
This is where SnowBike Nation comes in.
ALLRED, an army veteran and lifelong adrenaline junkie, entered the ground floor of snow biking when the sport made its debut in Idaho in the mid-2010s.
“After I went there, I knew it was going to explode,” he recalls. He wanted to help help the industry take off, especially in Northwestern Montana.
“I’m really looking to introduce people to the sport,” Allred said. He started with a podcast and social media campaigns to spread the snow bike virus beyond his native Idaho. But he knew the key to recruiting new snow bikers would be getting them on the bikes and out into the backcountry.
So over the past two seasons he has worked to build an arsenal of snowmobiles and a team of experienced guides to offer snowmobile rides throughout Flathead.
Although Allred grew up mountain biking in Idaho, he wanted to grow his business in the outdoor mecca where generations of Allred have made their home. He saw it as a great opportunity to go back to his roots and bring snow biking to a largely untapped market.
He said the area’s dense trees are ideal for winding snow bike trails, and the valley’s rich outdoor tourism tradition is well suited for snow bike guiding. He has partnered with many local businesses to provide transportation and accommodation for new snow cyclists, and he said the tours have already become popular with visitors who come for a ski trip and decide to give it a try. a new activity after a few days of waiting in the ski lifts. lines.
“We really want to cater for adventurous people… people looking for something different and unique,” he said.
SNOWBIKE NATION offers partial, full and even multi-day guided tours with Allred and its three guide partners. Allred provides the bikes and all the top-of-the-line gear anyone could need for a day’s ride, from wetsuits and boots to avalanche emergency gear.
“You could show up in your underwear,” Allred joked.
Even if you did, you would stay toasty warm in Allred’s specialized heated trailer where participants can gear up in total comfort. The trailer and the rest of the outfit can go to pretty much any outdoor destination, although Allred tends to prefer Blacktail Mountain as a place to train beginners.
At this point, riders (aged 16 and over) follow Allred and his fellow guides into the forest, usually on tours lasting four to six hours. Allred pointed out that snow biking is particularly suitable for beginners, as erasures are usually cushioned by a few feet of intact snow.
The bikes are small and light enough to fit a variety of riders, including women and older bikers. Allred said he plans to teach a women-only clinic later in the season, as part of his efforts to build a snowmobile nation from the valley floor.
“Guidance is not the end of the game,” he explained. “Content is the end of the game, popularizing the industry. ”
He hopes that making snow biking more accessible will take snow bikes out of the backcountry and into the mainstream, and he’s creating trails to bring that day closer.
SnowBike Nation is available online at https://www.snowbikenation.com.
Journalist Bret Anne Serbin can be reached at 758-4459 or [email protected]