Sweaty Yeti = Old School
By Steve Meurette
“Old School” : Anything that is from an earlier era and looked upon with high regard or respect.
2014 signals the maturing and legitimizing of the fatbike phenomenon. What? Well, when the bike world mega companies like Trek and Specialized finally give in, one knows this isn’t just a niche market any longer. Not that I minded at all being on the fringe of the mountain bike world. I’ve been as happy as I could be pedaling around the outside and praising the fun of fat.
Likewise, what started out as fun little gatherings of more riders than bikes, fatbike racing is also going mainstream. Race series are growing, categories expanding, and what once was last minute tossed together team recruiting, is now moving toward massive solo riders duking it out. There is nothing wrong with that-it’s the evolution of sport I guess, much like the old days of WORS (Wisconsin Off-Road Series), which our club was a founding member of. We had 67 riders our first year and 800+ by our final addition. As the race (the Buzzard Buster) grew, so did the amount of work and stress and “seriousness!” I guess we gave the riders what they wanted, or at least what we as race directors thought they wanted.
Fast forward to today. The only thing that would have me don the race directors hat would be a key word-“fun” and keep it “Old School” as much as possible. The “Sweaty Yeti” is now headed for it’s third addition, hopefully keeping that F-word in the forefront. When formulating the Sweaty a few years ago, I tried to follow some guidelines fatbike mentor Gomez suggested-he knows a thing or two of fun at events, so it was a good place to start. Keeping the laps relatively short, without killer grunt climbs keeps riders fresh and the fat fun factor high. A new swervy curvy downhill section concludes each singletrack lap with a bit of ski trail squeezed in to allow passing. Don’t be surprised to actually bump into a Yeti riding the course or cheering on the racers! I’ve noted that Sweaty Yeti riders are not so much of the dog-eat-dog mentality, but rather, go fast and enjoy the day on a bike. The merriment and camaraderie of being on great buffed singletrack and reliving the day around a warm fire with a cold beverage is what keeps ‘em coming back.
As more riders flock to winter racing, formats have started to change. Some have moved toward a serious structure, while others, like the Yeti, are staying with our roots. Even though for The 9:Zero:7 Wisconsin State Fat-Bike Series we need solo classes results, The Sweaty Yeti highly encourages team formation. There is nothing more enjoyable than shared suffering, or enjoyment of cracking off laps of packed snow singletrack. Prizes have been and remain simple-six packs of Sand Creek craft beer, hand made hats or mittens or a smattering of goodies from Sandstone Ridge Winery and the Sports Den.
The Sweaty Yeti for 2014 has now opened itself up as a weekend experience. The race itself is on Saturday March 1st, giving riders plenty of time afterward to relax around the bon fire and keg. “Yeti-Fest” actually starts Friday night, with registration and a meet and greet at the Sand Creek Brewery in Black River Falls and the Levis Mound Trail Chalet. Winter camping was such a hit last year, we brought that back for the weekend and toss in guided night rides on the Sweaty course and long machine groomed singletracks. On Sunday March 2nd, riders are welcome to again tour the trail system on fatbikes or jump into the Wolf Run snowshoe race- a 5 and 10 km adventure on some of the more challenging trails at Levis. For more information and registration, visit http://www.wisfatbikeracing.com/sweaty-yeti-fat-bike-race.html . Also check up to the minute information on our Levis Mound Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LevisMound
Saturday March 1st, Levis Mound Trail. All info is here: http://wisfatbikeracing.weebly.com/sweaty-yeti-fat-bike-race.html