Sometimes, the best relationships come from unlikely pairings. Backcountry huts (long the winter purview of gaitered old guys on skinny skis) and cross-country mountain biking (sufferfests for gearheads) hooked up in southern Colorado in the late eighties, but they’ve been keeping their romance quiet until recently.
In the past two years in particular, hut-to-hut biking trips have been gaining traction in the United States. Existing winter hut systems like San Juans have been opening their doors year-round, and new huts like the Maine Huts are grading their trails for bikers. The international community is embracing the phenomenon as well; New Zealand is in the midst of a three-year trial to see how bikers take to some of their world-renowned treks.
So why are they becoming more popular? “I think that people just want real journeys, from point A to point B, “says Joe Ryan, who started the San Juan Hut System. “There’s an appeal to crossing terrain.”