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A beefy new breed of bike is taking over mountain towns during ski season, and its super-fat, knobby tires roll over snow and slush as easily as they tackle dirt and pavement.
The bikes make mountain bikes look delicate, and watching someone cruise down a trail on one is like watching someone pedal a small motorcycle.
We hopped on a pair of fatties at Paragon Outdoors in downtown Telluride,Colo., where we joined an afternoon Bike and Brew ride after a morning of downhill skiing. We did an easy, mostly flat one-and-a-half hour ride to the Telluride Brewing Company, about 3 miles outside town. More challenging tours can also be arranged.
We rolled out from Main Street and coasted down a few blocks to the River Trail behind our guide, Becky Reimann, who schlepped a backpack stuffed with spare jackets and mittens in case we got cold. Dress in layers.
The 3.7-inch tires on the Surly Pugsley I rode practically floated over the trail, which was covered with packed snow. Surly makes an even bigger frame called the Moonlander, which uses 4.7-inch tires.
I tried deviating off the path into fresh powder but got bogged down. Still, these bikes can go where other bikes can’t, and the tires’ superb traction keeps you from slipping or skidding.
We crunched alongside a partially frozen stream and past fields of open snow. Behind us, the mountains that form a box canyon around Telluride glistened gloriously. We snapped lots of photos. For the last mile of our tour, we switched to a paved path that runs alongside the two-lane highway, rolling up to the Telluride Brewing Company about an hour after we started.
Last year, the brewery made some 2,800 barrels (33 gallons per barrel) of beer. Founders Chris Fish, Tommy Thacher and Brian Gavin, all in their 30s, craft about 10 different types. It’s distributed all over Colorado, from Denver to Durango, but not in Texas. (Yet. I begged.)
Ben English, who works in sales, distribution and cleans the joint, too, gave us the nickel tour, starting with a couple of buckets of hops, which looked suspiciously like the alfalfa pellets my pet guinea pig used to eat when I was a kid. He pointed out giant tanks and strainers, yards of metal tubing and stacks of empty cans.
Frankly, I’d enjoyed a beer by this point, so I couldn’t tell you how the pellets become beer. I can tell you that a high-octane, Belgian-style brew called Tripple in Stillwater was my favorite. My husband liked the Tempter IPA. Also on the menu?
Face Down Brown and Whacked Out Wheat
As we sampled, our guide loaded our bikes into the shuttle, which had arrived to whisk us safely back to town.
That was good news for Leah Walker, a Houston woman who was part of our group.
“The next time I do this, I need bigger tires and a motor,” she said.
If you go: Paragon Outdoors is located at 213 W. Colorado Ave., Telluride, Colorado. The Bike and Brew tour costs about $39 a person, with van pickup. For more information, go to bootdoctors.com. ___