Category Archives: Biking

Almost a year in

Ride Fatbikes

The first post on RideFatbikes.com was almost a year ago – March 18, 2011.  The original goal in developing this site was to get the word out about how much fun it can be to ride fatbikes (hence the name “Ride Fatbikes”).  Since then, we’ve grown to a dramatically larger readership (over 7300 visitors last month compared to an average of 60 visitors/month in the first few months), we’ve developed/hosted/promoted the Fatbike Frozen Forty (triple F), we’ve launched the Fatbike Gallery, the Fatbike Library, and a Gear and Reviews section.  We’ve had guests posts, reader-contributed stories, and event/race recaps from readers, racers, and riders from all over the country, and we’ve tried to keep the content fresh.

That said, by no means do we have it all figured out.  Instead, as we approach the one-year anniversary of RideFatbikes.com, we’d like to try modifying (and hopefully improving) the format of this site.  Some of our most popular posts and stories have been those submitted by readers and guest contributors, so we’d like to do more of that.  We’ve found that while people like to know about races, rides, and adventures that are happening in their area, they also like to share stories about their own personal experiences at a race/ride or even their own solo fatbike adventure story.  Good stories and good adventures make for good reading.

The community of people who ride fatbikes has grown exponentially in recent years, and we hope it will continue to grow exponentially more in years to come.  We want RideFatbikes.com to serve that community by offering a place to share your fatbike stories, adventures, and more.  As our format changes, so may our site.  In the meantime, please feel free to comment on new pages or posts you see developing, check out and comment on our Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ride-Fatbikes/236605043077212), follow us on Twitter (@RideFatbikes), submit your photo for the Fatbike Gallery, or simply Contact Us and share a post or story you’d like to see included here.

It’s a lot of fun to ride fatbikes, and it’s a lot of fun to see what other fatbike riders have to say about their adventures.  Please feel free to make this site your forum for sharing the stories about how, where, and why you ride fatbikes.

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Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout – Guest post from Griff Wigley

Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout (photo courtesy of Griff Wigley)

At Ride Fatbikes, we enjoy sharing personal fatbiking experiences and stories, but believe that the readership is even better served by hearing about some of the fatbike experiences of others. Minnesota played host to a tremendous variety and quality of fatbike races this year, with one of them being the Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout last weekend. While the snow conditions proved difficult, from the reports I’ve heard people who went enjoyed themselves, even if they ended up pushing/dragging their bikes more than they expected. The story below was shared with us by Ride Fatbikes reader Griff Wigley, and is shared here as a guest post. Thanks for sharing this with us, Griff, we greatly appreciate receiving such guest posts and stories. If you’d like to check out Griff’s blog, you can find it here: http://mountainbikegeezer.com

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BY GRIFF WIGLEY, ON MARCH 4TH, 2012

My first-ever mountain bike race, the Sagamore SnowXross Race at the 2012 Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout, started out well for the 15 of in the Beginners Class.  After about 50 yards across the parking lot, however, soft snow created a big pileup and I soon learned firsthand what the phrase hike-a-bike meant. As Aaron Hautala wrote in this blog post:

Early into the Sagamore SnowXross Race it was obvious it needed a new name.

The IRONYETI.

The snow pack turned into champagne crystal powder overnight with the dramatic drop in temperature from Friday night, which made the race course a bit more challenging than we originally intended.

After about two miles of pushing the Mukluk, I lowered my rear tire pressure from about 4 PSI to near zero—I could feel the rim by pressing the tire hard with my hand. Much better traction.  Another mile and it occurred to me to do the same to the front tire. Better yet.

Last discovery at about mile 4: I quit trying to always ride in the narrow tire ruts made by other riders.  The amount of energy required to keep my balance while riding a rut wasn’t worth it, speed-wise. Instead, I could often go faster (especially when the terrain was flat or downhill) if I rode where riders had been walking.  The low tire pressure usually gave me enough grip to get through the footprints if they weren’t too deep.  Still, I estimate that I pushed my bike for 3 of the 6 miles. Uff-da. I finished in just under two hours.  I’ve not yet seen the results posted but the top three riders (Beginners Class) finished in approximately 1 hr and 35 minutes. I’ll post a link to the results at the bottom of this blog post when they become available.)
After lunch at the Heartland Kitchen Cafe, I took in some of theWhiteout Festival activities in Crosby’s Memorial Park. I didn’t compete in the Serpent Lake Ice Bike 500 races (I didn’t have studded tires) but instead, opted for some solo fat bike riding in theYawkey Unit.
Unlike Friday night, the Haul Road trail to the parking lot in the center of Yawkey was mostly packed down, sometimes to a width of 12 inches or more (left and center photos above). This makes for splendid riding.

I then rode Tugger, normally an intermediate difficulty trail that’s at the base of Bobsled (see the inset on page 2 of this DNR map of the park). It’s a gorgeous trail but like Friday night, riding it was very difficult because there was only a single rut from the few previous riders.  I took it easy and just enjoyed the scenery.
At 5 pm, everyone convened at the Ya Betcha Bar & Grill in Crosby for free appetizers, drawings for prizes, and the awards ceremony hosted by MORC Board member and Events Director Amanda Scholz. The event swag (beanie and stein) was impressive.

See the large slideshow of 50 photos of the entire two-day event.


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Fatbike video

Ben Welnak recently posted this cool video (aptly titled Fatbike Spring) on his site, BenWelnak.com.  It’s a nice mix of stills and video, showcasing some of the beauty that can be seen and fun that can be had on snow-covered but melting winter trail on a warm day in Colorado.

We’ve posted it here with Ben’s permission.  Check it:

http://vimeo.com/38006540

 

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Ben & the Bully are at the top of the Mahem

Those of you who follow RideFatbikes.com regularly know that Twenty2 Cycles and Ben Welnak (one of the owners) are held in high regard here, in part due to the fact that Twenty2 Cycles makes some great fatbikes, expanding the ever-increasing offerings in the fatbike world, and in part due to their advocacy and sponsorship of the Triple F.  So when we heard that Ben one the Leadville Mahem (the 2nd of 3 races in the Leadville Winter Mountain Bike Race series, we were excited to get the word out.

Ben’s blog, The Front Range Chronicles, is a good read, and can be found here.  The article below is a guest post from Ben Welnak, and is a copy of the same article from his blog.  If you like the article, be sure to check out the rest of the great stories on his site.

SUNDAY, MARCH 4, 2012

Leadville Winter Mountain Bike Race #3 – Mineral Belt Mayhem

I headed up to Leadville yesterday after Amy and I met with some Walk to Remember folks to get on the CBS local news. Amy did a great job talking on air while we were recording – she’s better on camera than she thinks, especially when discussing child loss. It’s a great organization that helps people who have experienced child loss know that there are others out there ready to talk about it.
a lot of snow on the drive up to Leadville

I rolled into town around noon and took a little time to get all my clothes laid out and bike ready to rock.

i know…triple crank with no front der…oops, didn’t order enough and the one went on a customer’s bike. I’ll get that ordered up, but for tonight I’ll be rolling a 1 x 9
A lot of clothes for an hour long race. Gear includes ice fishing mittens with sweet ass Ergon gloves underneath (yes, ice fishing…I am from Wisconsin after all) All necessary though as the temps dropped like a rock down to like 10 degrees after sunset.

Once I was comfortable with everything and it was ready to go, I headed down the street to the City on a Hill Coffee Shop to eat, hang out, and get some work done while I waited for the race.

On the way over I took my time and checked out the skijoring. It sure is something else!

the Leadville, CO main street (the race finishes on this street!)

Around 5:30, I started packing up my stuff at the coffee shop and headed over to the race sign up at the Cycles of Life Bike Shop . $20 later I got ready to roll. My legs were feeling a little sore, so i took a good amount of time warming up to get ready for the cyclocross-like 12ish mile, 1hour+ effort (the time varies a good bit from year to year depending on the snow conditions).

just happened to get Number 22 to go on the Twenty2 Cycles Bully.. a good sign perhaps

It was good to get back. After a hiatus from last year’s race, it felt good to be back, waiting in the coffee shop, looking out the window at like 1,000 people lining the streets. A lot has changed in those two years, wow. I’m definitely a different person than the last Mineral Belt Mayhem.

So, the race…

We’re all ready to go.
Headed away from the shop down the main drag, Harrison Ave, on to 8th Street

It started off with a neutral rollout from the shop down the snow packed street. Then once we hit 8th street, a cop continued to lead us out until we hit the Mineral Belt Trail just on the edge of town. The total starting pack was probably around 50 (waiting on the results as of writing this to get the actual numbers).

The Mineral Belt Trail is a 12 mile all-season trail designed for bikes and walkers. In the winter it’s a nicely groomed cross country ski trail for both classic and skate skiing. It was packed for the race, but there is only so much packing will do with a lot of new snow.

The cop pulled off as we approached the start of the trail and the race was on. Throughout the rollout, I wanted to stay near the front so I could take a stab at pushing the pace early on and see where I could take it. It was all good as I looked over and saw a couple people and the rest of the pack not too far behind. I didn’t want to be “that guy” by blowing apart the rollout, so I let off to not go crazy.

The race was on and you could hear the changing gears. I pushed the pedals, hit the trail first, and hopped up over the little ridge of snow. Crap…the chain jumped off. I had to stop and get it back on. I was now suddenly in chase mode only 1 minute into the race. Not good.

I hopped back on and put my head down. It didn’t take long to catch up to a lot of the people on regular mountain bikes because the snow was soft and it was hard to navigate. The leaders were not far up ahead, so I knew that if I could keep it steady that I could put it on over the last couple mile uphill section.

The snow didn’t get much harder. There was a small section on the right of the skate ski deck and a sliver of space next to the classic tracks that were enough to carry some float. But once you tried to venture out from those spots and pass, it was like hitting peanut butter. The tires would just punch through and drag.

Five of us continued up the initial climb in the lead. It was strung out maybe 30-45 seconds from the leader back to me at 5th. I stuck on the wheel of a guy on a 29er knowing that he’d probably fall off the pace, taking advantage of the extra packed tire tread. It’s just too hard to maintain a good pace, going up an incline on “skinny” tires, so it was only inevitable. I tried to pass him a couple times, but when I swung out to go by, the soft snow sucked me in. It wasn’t worth trying to put so much into it so early on. I got tired of following him though, so I finally just punched it and grinded through the slow snow.

The leaders weren’t getting out any further, so I just maintained a good pace and focused on catching the next guy. I got him and we see-sawed for a bit before I started pushing the pace and moving the Bully faster. We reached a downhill section and I let it rip with the second place rider in my sights.
After closing the gap on the second place rider on this section, I passed him on a short road crossing and the race was on to catch first.

I kept him in my sights, which was around 30 seconds up-I would continually pick sections that I saw him pass and then countdown, just to know where I stood. Knowing that the last couple mile would be a tough gradual uphill, I anticipated that he’d get tired given the pace he was pushing. After we popped out of a sweet downhill section through the trees, the 1st place rider was closer than I thought. He seemed to struggle through a rough patch of snow leading up to the Highway 24 crossing and I knew it wouldn’t be long. I hit a short road crossing and sprinted for about 20 seconds until I caught and passed him.

The last section was pretty loose and had some deeper snow. There was one spot that I decided to jump off and run. I took a quick look back and saw two lights – the third place guy was catching second. I looked back a couple minutes later and saw him pass. At that point, I stood up and pushed to the end of the trail. Once I heard the cowbells of the volunteers at the right turn onto Harrison, I knew it was done. I just pushed over the hill and got to sprint it home on the snowpacked Harrison Avenue for a 1st place finish.

I love the end of this race – racing down through the center of Leadville at night with a good gang of people hanging at the bike shop.

A good group of people hung around after the race, both at the shop, as well as the mexican restaurant next door. We were waiting to see how others were doing. Some people were have some big issues with the snow and took 2-3 hours to finish. As of right now, the results aren’t posted yet, but I will update this post when they are.

The Leadville Winter Mountain Bike races never disappoint. It’s a great chance to get out and gain a little race training, have a post race Oskar Blues beer, and meet some cool people.

Thanks to the Cloud City Wheelers for the opportunity to race in the dead of winter above 10,000 feet of elevation. Thanks to Cycles of Life for hosting this race. Groomed race course, cheap entry, plenty of schwag, free beer, and cool people – can’t really ask for much more.

The Twenty2 Cycles Steel Bully handled the course well. The “mountain bike-like” geometry really is fun. It allowed me to really rip the downhills with quick handling and was very balanced when I was slowly going up the hills. I really dig the sturdiness when I stand and put the power to the pedals. I know that I should feel this way, since I am an owner in the company, but I can’t argue with the result.

I won’t be hitting up the last race of the series on April 7th because I have some bigger and longer fish to fry – April 7th is AntiEpic day. So, it’s a bittersweet end to my Leadville races for the year. It’ll be a year until the next, but it also means that spring is right around the corner.

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Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout – this weekend!

Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout - this weekend!

As I look out the window and see snow falling (in a MN winter that has been largely snowless), I can’t help but think about what amazing fortune we had to have snow-covered trail for last weekend’s Fatbike Frozen Forty. By the same token, the Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout this weekend in the Brainerd Lakes area is equally blessed with the amazing recent snowfall.

I’ve been following the Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout information and updates, but am unfortunately unable to attend.  There are quite simply too many great fatbike events in MN (and elsewhere) to get to participate in all of them.  The folks putting on the Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout obviously have done their homework, and have created what appears to be an exceedingly well organized and exciting fatbike event, winter race, and festival.  I wish them great luck and success with their event this weekend.

They are continually updating their site with new information about the event, so be sure to check in from time to time if you’re interested about what they’ve got going on this weekend.  For those of us who are observing but not participating, we’d love to get a race report and recap from someone who was in Brained this weekend for the Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout festivities.  If you’d like to see your photos of the event and race report on RideFatbikes.com (with a visibility of over 5000 visitors a month), Contact Us to submit your post and photos for consideration.  Who knows, maybe your photos can even be showcased in the Fatbike Gallery!

 

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Submit your race reports for guest posts on RideFatbikes.com

Photo credit: RideFatbikes.com

It’s awesome to see the amazing races and fatbike-focused winter events occurring throughout Minnesota and around the country.  We’ve spent so much time and energy focused on building and reporting the success of last weekend’s Fatbike Frozen Forty (a first year event organized by Ride Enterprises / Brad Boyd and sponsored supported by headline sponsor Twenty2 Cycles), that it’s been hard to find time to report on the many other fabulous races.

For those of you who regularly follow RideFatbikes.com, and who attend some of these races in Minnesota or in your own state, we’d appreciate having your race reports submitted to us for guest posts!  Would you like to see your name connected with a great race report that’s visible to over 5000 visitors a month?   After you attend or participate in a great fatbike race, write up a race report (with photos from the event of course) and submit it to us for review and possible posting at RideFatbikes.com.

We’d love to circulate more fatbike news, fatbike race reports and reader write-ups, Contact Us with your ideas.

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Frozen 40 (Triple F) Race Recap, Part I

Frozen 40 prerace (Photo credit: RideFatbikes.com)

The Fatbike Only Endurance Race

The first ever Triple F (Fatbike Frozen Forty) was ON today at Elm Creek Park Reserve Singletrack trail.  This event was SMOKIN’!  Our turnout was beyond expectations (over 50 registered and 45 raced).   Bear in mind, this is a fatbike-only, event, rather than a winter racing event.  Seeing 45 fatbike racers on race day is incredible.

Sponsors

Our generous sponsor involvement and support made the event a thrilling success, and from every rider report I heard all day, the trail, the course, the food, the fun, the people were awesome.  Trail conditions for this 10-mile, 4-lap trail could not have been more perfect.  Nicely packed snow, free of significant ice or major open dirt/mud events.

Twenty2 Cycles

Twenty2 Cycles at Frozen 40 (Photo credit: RideFatbikes.com)

Thanks to our first, primary, and strongest advocate from the inception of this concept, Twenty2 Cycles. Ben and Todd came out from Colorado, packing their truck full of some of the finest looking and most meticulously built fatbikes anyone has ever seen.  Twenty2 Cycles is on my list of all time favorite companies, lead by all-time coolest people.  Ben and Todd (and Twenty2 Cycles), thanks for supporting this event!  Their presence at this event was enough, but these guys brought hand-crafted breakfast burritos to kick-start our 7am set-up.  Twenty2 is class. If you haven’t run into them yet, you should, and you will.

Supporting Sponsors

Our other sponsors are incredible as well.  Maple Grove Cycling and Trailhead Cycling and Fitness each brought significant components to this event.  Maple Grove Cycling contributed music, mechanical support, bike stand, gift certificates, and food.  Trailhead Cycling and Fitness brought a heated tent set-up, grill-out, lots of volunteers & support, LOTS of prizes & give-aways, and plenty of food and encouragement.  This was a full-featured, fully supported bike race, for fatbikes.  Racers had plenty of food, beverage, encouragement, mechanical support, warm-up tent, GREAT trail, handmade in the USA custom fatbikes to test ride, and most importantly, a gathering devoted to fatbikes with an opportunity to race 40 miles, or ride any number of laps a rider was inclined to ride.  Whether it was food, support, or good times, our local bike shop sponsors had racers and spectators covered!

Then add on beer from our beer sponsor (the official beer of the 2012 Triple F)Surly Brewing CoPeace Coffee supplied the coffee that was donated as prizes and used as our morning brew (coffee, that is).  Thanks to Surly and Peace for our beverage support!!  It was hard to find a rider who had completed the event without a Surly in hand or close by.  At 7am pre-race set-up, many of us were fueled by enthusiasm & Peace Coffee.

Prizes

Fatbike Frozen 40 Prizes (Photo credit: RideFatbikes.com)

Our prize table was something to behold.  The best prize was contributed by 45Nrth, a pair of the difficult-to-obtain yet remarkably desirable Husker Du tires.  I got the chance to meet David from 45Nrth.   He is an accomplished photographer and a knowledgeable rider.  Their tires rock in part because they ride what they sell, and are at events talking to racers.  Thanks 44Nrth for supporting those who ride fatbikes!  Check back here or on FatbikeGallery.com – we hope to post some of the great photos taken at this event.

Prizes & swag were rounded out by great stuff from Bar Mitts, XXCMag, and Cognition Caps.  Trailhead had a large amount of swag & prizes, and Maple Grove Cycling added gift cards into the prizes as well.

Thanks also to my friend Matt, who came from Boulder, CO just for the race, and his father, Ray, who made the journey from Brainerd to join Matt in a father-son team.  Thanks to riders who came from Sioux Falls (SD), from IA, and elsewhere to support (and have a blast at) a grass-roots first time event.   If we had 50 registered this year, might this occur again next year?  Hmmm.  stay tuned.

Frozen40 racers, thanks for turning out today and supporting this event.  Without people to take part in such an event, it wouldn’t be an event.  Hopefully you had a great time and will be back again.  Let’s keep the fun going – leave a comment below or share your photos from today to post to FatbikeGallery.com.  We’ll try to add photos as we can.

The Winner

SO, HOW DID THE RACERS DO?  WHO IS THE KING OF THE TRIPLE F?  WHO WON THE FROZEN 40 OPEN CLASS? Let’s just say the bike drop with running start was a blast

King of the Triple F (Photo credit: RideFatbikes.com)

for spectators, and some racers crushed 40 miles of snow-covered singletrack in admirable time.  Check back here tomorrow for results…

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