The short story is that Team #1, FattyBOOMbastic, sponsored in part by fat-bike.com and riding a custom Schlick Cycles fatbike, finished 3rd in Team A at the recent Riverwest 24 Hour Bike Race. Tony, Puck, Sven, Beaker, Boner and Schmeeds rode over 280 miles in the 24-hour race, hit 21 out of 22 bonus check points and Tony got the Tattoo for 5 big points!
The back story is a bit longer and goes back to last year’s RW24 when Tony rode a lap on his fatbike and came back to the team headquarters saying “ya know, it really is pretty fast on this course. I wonder…”.
I suppose a bit of history about the Riverwest 24 would be appropriate here! 2012 marked the 5th Riverwest 24 (and my 3rd as a participant) which began as a way to strengthen the Riverwest neighborhood of Milwaukee roughly encompassing an area from Capitol Drive on the North to Commerce Street on the South and the Milwaukee River on the East with Holton Street marking the Western edge. Well over 100 blocks of tight knit and diverse community.
The suggested Race Route runs about 4.8 miles but because the race is set up much like an Alley Cat, with only 4 specific checkpoints that are required each lap, riders are free to use what ever route they please to get to the checkpoints. Alleys, bike trails (both paved and unpaved), parking lots, playgrounds, streets whatever. Make the route your’s and just make sure you hit the check points.
To add a bit of fun, and to really involve the community, there are 22 bonus check points that require the rider to get off the bike and perform a specific task from filling sand bags at Habitat for Humanity, to getting a haircut at a local barber, to the big bonus, an RW24 tattoo. Bonus check points are worth 2 points. With each complete lap being worth 1 point, and taking 15-20 minutes, if you time it right those bonus checkpoints can be a real help. Basically, if you want to be in the hunt at the end of the race, you need to complete as many checkpoints as possible. BTW, the tattoo is worth 5 points! The only other way to get the 5 is to complete ALL the check points.
Fast forward to late April, 2012 and Tony was already hatching a plan to get the coveted Team #1 position, assuring us of being first out of the block. He camped overnight to be first in line at The Riverwest Public House Co-op Bar the day of registration. Little did we know there was more going on in Tony’s brain and why that #1 was so important.
About a month before the race Tony let out his secret. He wanted our first team rider, on a fat-bike, to complete the first lap in first place! A tall order considering the competition would all be riding road bikes!
I’d already had a pretty good idea of how we would build the custom Schlick frame and also the components we’d use on the bike but that challenge from Tony stepped our prep up a notch. We got the race frame done a week before the comp and, fortunately, I’d already stocked up on the other build parts including an E*Thirteen Crank, Schlick 47mm Northpaw Rims, Hope Hubs, Black Floyds, Magura MT2s, White Brothers 450mm Snow Pack fork and a Surly Riser Open Bar run upside down in the cockpit.
With the build up completed the Monday before the Friday race, we had enough time to get some test laps in and, really, made very few changes to the setup except to dial in tire pressure (23-25PSI) and seating positions to accommodate all 6 riders. Oh, I probably forgot to mention that the catch of TEAM A is that all the riders have to ride THE SAME BIKE! In addition you must finish the race with the same frame you started with so reliability is at a premium.
So, with Friday race day upon us, and a start time of 7PM, we began congregating at Tony’s house that sits just a block off the recommended route and makes a super place to hang out and do the bike change every few laps to get a fresh rider rolling. The team riders were decked out in Club Ride Nut Head riding jerseys and proceeded with their own pre-race rituals.
True to the Schedule, the race began at the stroke of 7 with Colin (aka Beaker) taking the first turn. He was out of the gate first and rode what had to be a memorable lap because, as Tony had envisioned, Colin came across the Start/Finish for lap 1 just ahead of Jake Newborn, a perennial favorite and all around fast guy. (I heard tell of an offroad excursion and pass that would have been unlikely if not impossible on a road bike!) It was quite a site! If you are still one of those who thinks fat-bikes have to be slow, go for a lap with Colin!
Frankly, the rest of the race and the ensuing 24-hours flew by and while I have a generally warm and fuzzy recollection of the event and all the shenanigans, riding, partying etc. I sure can’t write it all down here but besides cracking the podium in Team A with the 3rd place finish we were 21st out of 263 teams and 883 riders! I can tell you this, I’ll be back next year and I’ll be on a fat-bike! Did we already start planning for next years team? Yes, yes we did! I think you’ll be surprised at what we come up with. See ya then!