Winthrop Snow Riding

Winthrop heavily advertises to be a winter fatbiking mecca – and they do have high-quality trails that are worth doing. Coming here the 3rd year in a row, we had been looking forward to our vacation for the last 12 months. However, the Methow River Cabins was a total disaster, and we left after 1 night. But, before we drove away, I went for a ride on new-to-me trails.

Previously, the Pearrygin Lake and Lloyd Ranch had entertained me under cloudy skies, and with a bit of night-riding.






But, today, the blue sky was calling to explore trails higher up, even if it would cost $10 / 6 miles.  The Methow Trails organization opens up about 10% of the 120 miles cross-country ski trails to fatbiking. Not quite fair to open up only so few miles, given that:

a) 5″ tires at 3 psi damage the trails slightly less than skate-skiers

b) I take up way less space than skate-skiers

c) I ride in control down-hill, unlike skiers

But, thanks for sharing a little bit, Methow Trails, and it was worth to try it out once. If someone is just getting into snow fatbiking, I can recommend the 6 mile Gunn Ranch trail to the Grizzley hut. Most skiers smiled or waved ‘hello’, and one even took up my offer to try out my fatbike (and came back with a big grin saying ‘This is stable!’).

After stopping by Method Cycle and Sport for my day pass, the ride to the trailhead gets you up 1000′ on somewhat-busy roads. It would have been quieter on a weekday, I was told. But, not too bad, except for that one diesel pickup truck that just had to accelerate a bit more while passing me.


A bit of smoke was gathering in the Methow Valley around Winthrop, but up here, it was beautiful.



Let’s see how good the Goods are:



Pretty good!


With reservations, one can stay at these cabins – they look cozy and comfy!20181227_114729_small.jpg


I was told by the Methow Cycle shop to check out a new trail on my way back if snowshoers had been on it already this morning. And, yes they had! The temperature was still < 30 F, so I went for it. Surprisingly rideable for first 1/2 of it – then the sustainable trail layout ends (at least in winter?), and one goes up a 25% grade.




After 3 years on Dillinger 5’s, I was happy to see that the Johnny 5 tires fit in the Motobecane Ti-frame and Bluto fork on 100 mm rims. I did have to move out the rear-cassette by 5 mm to avoid scraping the chain in the lowest gear on the tire. So, the bike now is set up as a 2×9 speed.


Terrene’s Johnny 5, partially studded

The descent with these tires was awesome, and actually rode all of it. The Johnny 5 actually measures 5″ wide on 100 mm rims at 10 psi, while the D5’s are only 4.6″. And the tread blocks have much better grip in the front. However, the rear-tire traction didn’t seem any better with the Johnny 5, probably because the tire casing is a bit thicker compared to the D5, and doesn’t conform as easily to the terrain. Lastly, the increased rolling resistance of the Johnny 5 was noticeable on the road ride, but well was worth it while riding singletrack.


Good day on the bike.


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