BIG WHITE, BRITISH COLUMBIA — “Trailhead Ed” Kruger bikes in the summer and skis and snowboard in the winter so when he heard about a contraption that could turn his bike into a ski, he couldn’t wait to try it out.
As founder of Monashee Adventures Tours, Kruger earned the nickname “Trailhead Ed” by always being the first at the trailhead and urging people to follow him. Now as the only tour operator offering snowbiking tours at the Big White ski resort in the Okanagan, Trailhead Ed is hoping to lead die-hard cyclists and skiers into a new sport.
Is it skiing on your bike or biking on the ski slope? Both. The device which attaches on to a regular bicycle turns it into a snowbike with treads on the back wheels and a ski up front. The rubber track in the back which has a brake, keeps the bike cruising on the snow adding traction and stability.
It takes a bit of practice, says Kruger, but it’s just like riding a bike. “If you fall, it’s just on snow so it’s not too bad. People who bike get it really quick and anyone who skis or snowboards figure it out.”
Kruger is offering the first snowbike tours in North America and using the Big White ski resort near Kelowna as a trail run. He’ll take you up on the lift and the adventurer rides back down the slope on the snowbike.
“That saves you from having to peddle up the hill and people have tried it going up but it’s tough. It’s a lot better going back down. You get a real full core workout,” he says.
Snowbiking is a combination of snowmobiling, skiing, snowshoeing and biking, says Kruger. The traction in the rear gives the bike better traction with the idea that on the snow, the rider doesn’t sink in.
“It’s no more dangerous than snowboarding. There’s a brake on the back and that’s why they let me do this on a ski hill, you can control how fast you’re going and it all depends on how brave you are.”