Posts Tagged ‘Fatbike racing’

When I first saw a fat bike, I thought wtf? A year later I rode one in a parking lot and thought about the possibilities. Then I bought one and haven’t picked up my skate skis since. Well, I have moved then around a bit, but that doesn’t count. I rode that bike though the winter and decided to race it in my first multi-day bike race, the 300 mile AZT300. Then I rode my Blacksheep custom Singlespeed fatbike in every race that year. I was addicted. After a fusion of 2 Cervical disks, I decided it would be best to leave the rigid SS community. Summers are spent on one of my full suspension bikes and winters are reserved for my fat bike. It’s a lonely time when the ground is still dry and the temps are cold. I really prefer the ground to be covered in snow before I put the fat tires out. Plus it just feels weird now. I’m blessed to have, IMO, one of the best fat biking areas around at the Pole Mountain / Happy Jack trail system.

I think often about how Fat Biking has changed how I look at the Wyoming winters. I used to sit on an indoor trainer, now I hit the trails as much as possible.

It’s strange now that I have 2 ‘I dislike to ride’ seasons. One after October-ish and another when the temps warm and the snow is soft.

For now, I’m happy to be riding on cold snow. I’ll hit the dirt north of Tucson next month at 24HOP (not racing this year) but will be back on snow again the next week.

Indoor training with Zwift may or may not be needed depending on trail conditions before racing in May. I can only hope the snow continues.

WordPress on my Android tablet has me baffled so I didn’t realize this wasn’t posted til a week ago when I had no internet to work with anyway.

So…  a Month ago I was enjoying perfect snow conditions for a Fat Bike race at Grand Targhee.  An awesome course on a dual use groomed XC ski trail at the resort. The race was in Wyoming but the only way to get there was through Idaho.  Everything was perfect, including the weather.

wpid-wp-1391127153032.jpegView of Grand Targhee from across the valley

I managed 2nd place in the 30k race, getting beat by some college kid half my age. I hope enough people get into this soon so they can start age grading results, this is getting harder the older I get.  Regardless, the whole experience was a blast for my first fat race.

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Yampa crew and one moonlander

wpid-20140118_131617.jpg2nd place smile

On to my second fat bike race.  Como Colorado, Colorado state Fat Bike Championships.
ER and I drove down the day before the race and all we saw was green.  Green as in grass.  Where the eff is the snow?  This went on all the way to 10000′ as we drove up to the race venue that had on-site accommodations.  I asked the caretaker that was out where all the snow was.  He assured me that there was plenty in the trees.  Erm, ok.
We unloaded our gear and dressed for a course inspection at night.  Within the first half mile we both agreed that the course was going to fall apart quickly under the tires of 80 riders.
Message to all fat bike race organizers… if you are planning on riders riding, GROOM THE EFFING COURSE WEEKLY IF NOT MORE ALL THE WAY UP TO RACE DAY. Nobody enjoys running with their bikes. Rant over
Even though the the course was “rideable” up to the first rider, the rest of us struggled.
I lined up on the front row, said hi to those around me and got ready to roll.  3,2,1 we’re off, uphill start to a hike a bike.  Immediately there was a problem with every rotation of my front wheel.  Something stuck in my brake rotor.  I pull off and stopped to fix whatever was stuck in it.  Rotating the wheel backwards cleared the problem and I was off again.  I hit the hill in 22nd place.  Upon exiting the trail maze I was greeted by a friendly voice informing me that I was in 8th place.  4 more laps to go.  It was a hard rest of the race in which the course deteriorated to the point that it was maybe 20% rideable.  All my friends thought better it better to dnf and egg me on than continue the dumbness.  Race was eventually shortened to 4 laps and I finished up in 6th place after trading places with Nat Ross (5th) for most of the last lap.  Not sure I’ll ever race on an unprepared snow course again.  Running just isn’t my favorite thing.

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Rocky Mountain Fat Bike series

Snowy Range race was a week later.  Held at the Snowy Range Ski Resort west of Laramie.

It was a night race so I was able to rest up and sleep in.  No early morning wakeups for this race.

Things started out wrong when I discovered my truck battery dead when I already was loaded and ready to head out.  Lucky for me I have an AWD Mini Countryman that has an aftermarket hitch mounted on it for my bike rack.  Not so lucky was the fact that I still had on my summer tires and the course was expecting more snow and colder temps that would nearly wreck me as I drove into the icy parking area dodging departing skier vehicles.

The course had  a huge climb to start every lap.  Fast downhill and then into singletrack for the second half of the course.  There would be some walking on the uphill as the combination of new snow conditions and the steepness of the climb  warranted it.  I was none too happy with my back brake as it was in need of a bleed (Avid Elixers of course)

Lights on, racers ready… bang.  3 laps of  this course to complete.  I rode moderately fast and eventually rode off most of the riders on the uphill.  Only the winner, Adam L, was able to out climb me on the first lap.  Descending controlled and smooth, I discovered I barely had any rear brake at all.  “uh-oh, this is not going to end well if I have to use only my front brake”, I thought to myself.  I got through the first lap and was being chased by Jesse S.  I put in another big effort on the climb to hold him off and threw caution to the wind on the descent.  I lost it on a steep left hander when I couldn’t slow down enough due to lack of brakes.  Flipping over off into the deeper off-piste snow, Jesse came roaring by as I stood up and took stock of everything and set off after him.  He easily got away as I was having to really be careful as to no pick up too much speed going the rest of the way down.  I crashed a few more times on the single-track trying to keep it close.

By now 4th place had closed in and we hit the final lap’s climb together.  I knew from all my training that this hill suited me and after getting a gap before the walking section, I drilled it upon hoping back on my bike.  I kept it upright and took it very conservative on the single-track knowing he would have to chase hard to catch me.  When I finally hit the open and was able to get a good look back I was relieved to see no headlights chasing.  1/2 mile later I was crossing the line to another podium finish for the year.

Next Race: 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo