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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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