Winter Sports and Fat Biking


(January 2019) Welcome to the New Year! On this episode of Bayfield County Wild, Director of Bayfield County Tourism Mary Motiff shares her recommendations for getting fit…the Bayfield County way… with her Co-host Nancy Christopher. John Murphy and Joe Groshek, two avid fat bikers and silent sports advocates, talk about fat biking and its rising popularity in Bayfield County. Plus, Mary has some great events to get you off the couch and excited to be outdoors.

Groshek and Murphy with fat bikes


That’s easy. All of the county’s public land means lots of great trails and ways to get outdoors and embrace winter. Mary says there are nine separate groomed cross-country skiing trail systems in Bayfield County, 38 hiking trails that double as snowshoeing trails in the winter, 600 miles of groomed snowmobile trails and hundreds of miles of ungroomed forest roads for fat biking, backcountry skiing, snowmobiling or just exploring.

One of the best recreation areas in the county is Mt. Ashwabay, overlooking beautiful Lake Superior. Here, you can downhill ski, cross-country ski, snowshoe, as well as go skijoring and tubing. For those (like Nancy) who don’t know, skijoring is basically a combination of cross-country skiing and dog-sledding, but without the sled. And yes, there is a trail dedicated to just skijoring. There are also over 25 miles of cross-country skiing trails and 13 downhill skiing runs for every level of ability. Mt. Ashwabay may not be as steep or as long as the slopes in Colorado, but it’s very affordable…only $24 for a full day of skiing, $18 for youths and seniors, and kids under five are free.

The Ashwabay Outdoor Education Foundation is currently working on a history project. If anyone has any stories, video or photos that help tell the story of Mt. Ashwabay, please contact the director at Mt. Ashwabay or find out more on the website,


John Murphy and Joe Groshek are avid fat bikers and are dedicated to creating and maintaining fat bike trails in our area. John is a native Wisconsinite, who worked for the Houston Police Dept. in Texas. He and his wife moved back to Wisconsin and settled in Bayfield in 2010 and are now actively promoting silent sports and fitness in the community. Joe is a 40-year resident of Bayfield and outdoor enthusiast, and one of the founding members of BAASA (Bay Area Active Sports Alliance). Joe is currently involved as a board member with NCCA (North Coast Cycling Association) and a founder of the Superior Vistas Bike Tour.

Joe says fat biking is very different than mountain biking. For one, the tires are more than four inches wide, compared to less than three inches on mountain bikes. You can also bike year-round and can go anywhere on snow, sand or ice on a fat bike. You can climb anywhere with gears that shift easily and smooth pedaling. One big difference with a fat bike is its weight, which is considerably heavier than road bikes; 1 mile of fat biking is about the same as 15 miles of road biking. Fat bikes are also slower, but they give you plenty of time to enjoy the scenery.

These two guys created an activity they call “fat bike safaris” as a way to educate riders in a group led by an experienced guide. Joe’s favorite adventure is biking on Lake Superior ice but warns that you must know what you’re doing since conditions can change rapidly on Lake Superior.

John has fascinating stories about wolves and tracking them in the forest. Wolves often separate into smaller groups and when they return to their pack, they re-greet each other just like domestic dogs, wagging their tails and rolling on their backs. And if you are fearful about running into wolves, don’t be. They are very cautious and will keep their distance from humans.


Two years ago, the Forest Service approached the NCCA about creating some mixed-use trails groomed for both fat biking and cross-country skiing. It was very successful and serves as a model for the future. There is a shared comradery among different winter sport disciplines; backcountry skiers love fat bikers because they help to pack down the snow and fat bikers have an affinity for those who snowshoe for the same reason.

The new, mixed-use trails at Mt. Valhalla will be part of the All Winter Fun Day on Saturday, Feb. 2. Non-motor and motorized vehicles, including snowmobilers, are welcome.

On Saturday, Feb. 16, there is a major cross-country ski event called Book Across the Bay, followed by a fat bike event on Feb. 17 called Bike Across the Bay. This event is a race and tour that starts at the Harbor View Event Center in Washburn. Joe says the Brownstone cliffs and ice formations along the shores of Lake Superior are a phenomenon that attract people from all over. The ice formations are created by underground springs that maintain a temperature of 50 degrees. When the water flows out over the cliffs, it freezes, creating different colored ice. People bike, hike and ski to see these spectacular ice formations. Mary wants visitors to know that biking is not allowed at the mainland caves near Meyer’s Beach in Cornucopia; however, it is allowed outside of the National Park and can be accessed out of Bayfield and Washburn. 

There are many more fat biking events and safaris taking place this winter. For more information, you can check out the Bayfield County Tourism website, the NCCA website, or for even more current events, the NCCA’s Facebook page.


Jan. 2 - 6: Oulu Glass Open House

Jan. 12: Northwoods Harness Sleigh & Cutter Rally

Jan. 19: Warren Nelson’s Cabin Fever Reliever

Jan. 19: Fishin’ Chicks Ice Fishing Contest

Jan. 19: Four Seasons Resort Ice Fishing Tournament

Jan. 19 – 20: XC Ski Junior National Qualifiers

Jan. 20: Winter Fun Day

Jan. 26: Washburn Winter Triathlon XC Ski, Fat Bike, Snow Shoe/Run

Jan. 26 – 27: Red Cliff 3rd Annual Winter Pow Wow

Jan. 31: Full Moon XC Ski

View the full schedule of events on our website and Facebook page.


Finding yourself with a case of Cabin Fever this winter? Join us next month to remedy that the Bayfield County way! Dede Eckels of Eckel’s Pottery and Fine Craft Gallery joins us to share how she stays busy all winter long.


The Delta Diner

A frame-up restoration of a 1940’s Silk City diner, you’ll always find an eclectic menu with a twist on authentic favorites. Join us Friday-Sunday for our breakfast specials, blue plates, and homemade sandwiches, or stop in Monday for our burgers-only menu, featuring delectable house-made ground steak burgers! Come taste why they’ve been featured by the New York Times, the Food Network and Midwest Living.

Lakewoods Resort

Lakewoods Resort in Cable, Wis., is next to more than 600 miles of super-groomed trails in Bayfield County. You can ride for a week and never cross your tracks. Surrounded by 850,000 acres of Chequamegon National Forrest, the Great Outdoors is literally just outside your door! After a long day of outdoor adventures, warm your toes and fill your belly with some of Lakeside Restaurant’s outstanding Northwoods cuisine. 

The Loon Saloon

After a long day outside, wet your whistle and tame your hunger at The Loon Saloon! Enjoy one of the best pizzas in the Northwoods or browse our full menu of burgers, wraps, and appetizers. The Loon Saloon is a great stop on the snowmobile trails and is a hub for some of the best ice fishing in Bayfield County. Be sure to visit our onsite bait shop and convenience store to help you prepare for a great day on the lake or trails.

Valhalla View Pub & Grub

Whether you’re on a 4-wheeler, snowmobile, or just passing by, we have the fuel, drinks and food to satisfy! The Pub & Grub has 24-hour pay at the pump fuel, drinks, and food. One of the best dining experiences around, Valhalla View has a full dinner menu, daily specials, all-you-can-eat salad bar, hand-made pizza and more! Valhalla View Pub & Grub – Where drinks, food, and fun meet the trail!