Mountain Blog

Test Your Pedal Mettle
Nancy Story - Tuesday, February 28, 2017


Great grooming habits take place everywhere on the mountain – on the Alpine slopes, on the Nordic trails, and on the Fat Tire Bike trails.  If you haven’t yet sampled our fat tire trails, maybe March is your month to JUST DO IT.  Chris Remy, our resident bicycle guru, offers these tips:

The Bikes:  

The  Fuji Wendigo is the newest addition to our fleet, featuring massive 5” tires. It joins 12 SE Bike Fat-E’s – the workhorses of our fleet -and four framed Mini-Sota’s 24” wheeled fat bikes, great for tweens and the vertically challenged.

The Grooming:

We groom our trails and the Betsie River Pathway at least 3 times a week or more depending on conditions. We now have our own dedicated grooming sled and roller. When the trails get crustier and less favorable for skiing, they get better for fat bikes. (*Note: Trails are closed when it is too soft or muddy due to warm temperatures. Once it freezes again with fresh snow, it’s back to bike trail grooming!)

The Trails:

Otter Loop- Friendly to all fitness levels, this lighted loop is geared for beginners and serves as a wonderful warmup to longer rides.   

Fat Tire Trail- Here’s the feeder trail to our backwoods experience. Starting off Keewadin Drive , this groomed singletrack has just one hill and can be ridden as an out-and-back, or used to access the Fat Loop and Betsie River Pathway.

Fat Loop-Located on the south side of County Line Road, this groomed loop is nestled in the woods with rolling elevation changes and flowing turns. It’s just under a mile in length.

Betsie River Pathway- This backwoods experience features eight miles of singletrack groomed trail that links to our Crystal trails. The pathway is a relatively flat, fun ramble through varied terrain, from pine stands to hardwoods and old orchards. Even in the dead of winter, you’ll see lots of wildlife.

What to Expect:

The Ride-As we tell beginning riders - Fat Biking is a workout! There is more resistance than on typical bikes, so we recommend riders give themselves an easier gear and use a slightly higher cadence. There is no major learning curve to riding on the snow, but we do advise staying seated when climbing. Riders will want to keep their weight over that rear tire for traction.

The Outfit-Think cross country skiing, and wear layers. Riders should start out feeling a little chilled, because they’ll warm up quickly. Either a ski/boarding helmet or standard bicycle helmet can be used. Warm gloves, not mittens, and even goggles are appropriate if the sun is out or the snow is blowing! Hiking boots work great; snow boots are okay but can tend to be a bit heavy for riding. No ski boots! (A pro's tip: Wrap your foot inside a plastic bag before putting on your hiking boots for cheap and instant wind and water resistance)

This March, you can even test your pedal mettle on the slopes. On Tuesdays and Thursdays from March 21-30th, we’ll open up a loop on the ski hill from 5-8pm for Fat Tire biking after the slopes have closed. (A $10 trail pass is required, and bike rentals include a trail pass). Call for details at the Park at Water’s Edge, ext. 7000.

Food Fare for the Slopes
Nancy Story - Wednesday, February 15, 2017

When it’s cold outside, they’re hot in the kitchen.

For those Crystal Clipper Café employees who spend their winter inside, there’s a way to judge the weather outside. It’s by what skiers put in their stomachs.  Hot chocolate sales rise when the thermometer drops, although it’s the most popular beverage all season long.   Fountain drinks and coffee beat out bottled water in terms of takers, and Crystal’s chili disappears quickly with over 2600 servings sold this winter.

But the chow of choice regardless of the weather is French fries, hands down. Since the start of the season, the café has sold over 15,335 orders of fries. The favorite fry accompaniment is a cheeseburger – nearly 6,000 of them so far.  Our new Panini Station, though, is taking a bite out of the burger numbers with the Chicken Pesto Panini picking up 1136 fans so far this season. Poultry’s always popular – chicken tenders have posted over 8700 orders this winter,  and snowsports fans have gobbled down nearly 900 Chicken Caesar Wraps since ski season started.  Pizza slices and potato chips are high on the hit list, while the very popular salad bar continues to draw crowds.  There’s always demand for fruit cups and yogurt parfaits, but standard daily fuel favors the fast food fare.

Topping the sweet treat chart is that perennial favorite, the Crystal Krispie – a mitten-shaped rice krispie treat that’s been on the menu forever.  This year, nearly 2500 Krispies have disappeared into skier stomachs, well on the way towards the 5500 Krispies consumed in an average season.  Approximately 1539 Chocolate chip cookies have met their demise so far, followed by brownies, no-bake cookies, and the new Fluffernutter bars (a combination of peanut butter, Cheerios, marshmallows, and chocolate chips) in preferential order.  Another new menu item, fried mozzarella sticks,  is proving to be a big hit this winter.

Appeasing all those appetites as quickly as possible requires a crackerjack crew that knows just what to do. When the fryer’s hot in the kitchen, our café crew keeps their cool by utilizing a multi-tasking system that keeps things moving. During slow periods, they prepare for the next appetite onslaught, cleaning and planning ahead for the next day.

As it warms up outside, the crew will be hosting slopeside outdoor barbeques on March weekends, featuring those menu-favorite standbys like burgers and hot dogs.  And yes, everybody will want fries with that.