Story by Josh Gabriel
Photos by George Kaptz & Craig Smith
Manitowoc’s second annual Fat-bike race on the now notorious Shelltrack is in the books and as the saying goes, ‘What a difference a year makes.’ Just one year ago, Fat-bike fanatics were laying down fast laps in short sleeves, this year riders were layered up, exhaling steamy breath and sporting frosty mustaches. Temps were in the single digits but the cold weather did little to quell the spirit of the fat-bike community as over 41 riders made their way down to the beaches of Manitowoc for the race. This year, two races were held, individual and team.
The Shelltrack was snow covered, sunny and scenic on Saturday morning as the Individual category racers leapt from line in a lemans style start. There were 20 individual racers each attempting to be the fastest fatty around the Shelltrack for 5 laps. The winners of the men’s category were Andy Oleson of Carol Stream, IL (first), Marcus Steele of DePere, WI (second), and George Kapitz of Manitowoc (third). The fastest women were Karen Piontek of Wabeno and Rhienna Jensen of Manitowoc, WI.
After the individual race, the Shelltrack was packed down and ready for the 14, 4 person teams to compete in a relay style race. Teams were chosen in a schoolyard style draft each proudly displaying their team name on the spiffy new nameplate designed by Bike Brew Studios in Manitowoc. With names like Meat Wagon, Phat Phlyers and Team Awesome the festive nature and jolly attitude characteristic of Fat-biking was well portrayed. Another lemans start allowed Team Awesome to grab the hole shot and lead the pack out onto the beach, only to be literally run over by the team captain of Meat Wagon. The PBR shotgun challenge was fair game again this year, offering the chance to take a 16 oz. penalty for a time saving shortcut, giving an advantage to those riders who frequently train with framebags full of aluminum cans. After one lap around the Shelltrack, the next rider in the team grabbed the bike and made his/her way around the course and so the story went until 20 laps were marked off. Team Meat Wagon, comprised of team members George Kapitz, Brandon Smith, Joey Augustine, and Pete Ignasiak brought the shell necklace traveling trophy back home to Manitowoc after spending a year in Green Bay with the Titletown fliers team. The trophy will be proudly displayed at the Broken Spoke Bike Studio in Manitowoc for the next year, be sure to stop down and see it.
The Shelltrack is a course that changes with the weather, the eventual thaw of spring and the suns of summer will warm the beach so new challenges and strategies come into play. The Shelltrack and the beaches of Manitowoc are a perfect haven for fat-bikes all year round, stop down to the Broken Spoke and ask about a guided tour, they happen daily.