An Inside Look at Cold Rolled: Amazing Video on Snow Biking in the UP

Today, featured blogger Jesse Land of Things to Do in the U.P. shares his interview with filmmaker Aaron Peterson on snow biking in Michigan and his new film Cold Rolled.

Photo courtesy of Aaron Peterson

A new film by Michigan filmmakers shows that Marquette, Michigan is breaking ground in the sport of snow biking, with veteran snow bikers leading the way. With a custom made trail groomer and a dedicated snow bike trail (simply dubbed the “SBR” for snow bike route), there’s yet another reason to visit Marquette in the winter. I caught up with filmmaker Aaron Peterson this week for a quick Q &A about the film, Marquette and snow biking in general.

The film is being released in five parts, and you’ll find the first two parts below the interview.

How did this film come about? What were some of the challenges you ran into while making it? Did you run into any pleasant surprises?

I wanted to showcase the unique winter riding opportunities available in Marquette. We started out with the idea to make a short action video for the web, but then found a deeper story about a strong culture of winter cycling in Marquette and decided to expand the project into a film. Some of the challenges were that I’m new to video and filmmaking, this is my first major undertaking. I’ve been shooting video for about a year and just started to learn editing about 10 months ago.

As far as you know, how does the snow bike trail in Marquette compare to snow bike trails in the rest of the country?

Marquette’s SBR is, as far as I know, the first of its kind. It is very similar to a standard summertime mountain bike singletrack flow trail, meaning its fast, narrow and has fun features like bermed corners, rollers, etc.

From what I’ve seen in other areas, most places are simply allowing fatbikes on existing Nordic ski trails, which has a very different feel than buzzing through the woods on a dedicated bike trail. The NTN SBR is a really unique product, and one that I think was made possible due to the 30-year history of winter riding in Marquette that is featured in the film.

How does the NTN groom the snow bike trail?

Mike Brunet and Matt Belic of the NTN experimented with a number of different techniques and equipment over the past few years before developing and constructing their own groomer design. It’s sort of a cross between a snowmobile trail groomer and a Nordic ski trail drag. It rolls and packs the snow leaving a 27-inch wide courdoroy ribbon of fun through the hills and forest within the city of Marquette.

Are there any other snow bike trails in the area that will be opening in the foreseeable future?

The Range Mountain Bike Club of Negaunee/Ishpeming is planning to groom some of its system this season, making Marquette County a true hub for winter cycling. Also the Noquemanon Ski Marathon will have three races during the weekend of†Jan 24-26, 2014.

Do you need a special bike to ride the snow bike trail?

Yes, this is a trail specifically for fatbikes, bikes with oversized tires available from a variety of manufacturers. Fatbikes are available to rent from The Sports Rack in Marquette and can be demoed at any of Marquette’s four bike shops. The trails are also open to snowshoeing.

Can you talk a little about snow biking in general? I heard of it last year for the first time and it seems like it’s rapidly growing in popularity.

Fatbikes are the fastest growing segment of the bike industry right now. They use an oversized tire with low pressure to increase flotation and traction in soft conditions, they work in all types of terrain but excel like no other bike when it comes to riding on snow, which is why locally they are called snow bikes.

They do need a packed surface of some sort, like a ski trail, dedicated snow bike trail or anywhere a snowmobile of snowshoe traffic has compressed fluffy snow. Riding on snow is surreal. For an experienced cyclist, the feeling is similar to mountain biking but different enough that it lets you feel an entirely new experience on a bike. Marquette’s SBR can be very fast because it is smooth, the ride is like a roller coaster.

The bikes are very stable because of their wide tires and the traction is unbelievable. It’s just fun to try something familiar yet different and see what the bike can and can’t do. Plus it’s outdoors in crisp fresh air and great exercise. You just have to try it.

Video One:

COLD ROLLED-Chapter One from Clear & Cold Cinema on Vimeo.

Video Two:

COLD ROLLED-Chapter 2: The Thirty-Year Winter from Clear & Cold Cinema on Vimeo.

The remaining three videos (and the full length film) will be available the following dates:

These approximately 4-minute long chapters will be live by 8 a.m. EST on the following dates:

  • Saturday, Dec. 21 Chapter 3: The Lake Superior Session
  • Saturday,Dec. 28 Chapter 4: MindSparks-Birth of the SBR
  • Saturday,Jan. 4 Chapter 5: The SBR Shred Session
  • Saturday, Jan. 11 Full film available

Have you ever been snow biking? Tell us about your experience.

This post was written by Jesse Land of Things to do in the U.P. on behalf of Travel Marquette Michigan.

  • John

    It sounds like a great time. I’m going to have try this..