The first order of business on my trip to MPLS was to get out and cover the Cold Bear Challenge Fat Bike Fest in Elk River. The Cold Bear is the grand daddy of all mid-west fat-bike races. When I first read about it, years ago, it was called Pugfest. I remember seeing pictures of the race on MTBR and thinking how much fun it looked. So when Sven and I started to plan our MN road trip, I made sure to look up Rich Omdahl and make arrangements to attend. Rich is the race director of the Cold Bear and promised there would be shenanigans on top of classic Minnesota fat-bike racing. Like much of the upper mid-west MPLS is rather short on snow cover, so the trails were a mix of dirt, snow and semi treacherous stretches of ice.
Forty fat-bikes lined up for the start of the Cold Bear main event. Two laps of a short prologue that featured snow berms and a huge log-over and then two laps of a seven and one half mile course with all sorts of creative elements and challenges.
We had several great vantage points close to the start finish to watch the racers pass through. The top three racers were within site of each other for most of the race with Brendan Moore out front. I talked with him after the race and he said “It was just ridiculous out there”. Brandon confessed that he crashed 3 or 4 times during the race, while wrestling with the icy conditions. The champ was running a Husker Du front and back (no studs) on his 907 race fatty. I don’t even want to repeat what he told me his race rig weighed, but I’ll just say it was lower than 30 lbs.
After the finish we all gathered around a big fire while Rich handed out giant checks, and schwag galore! Minnesota Fat-Bike Racing at it’s finest!