By – Michael McColgan
This past Valentine’s weekend, 200 fatbikers showed their love for snowy singletrack by converging on Elm Creek Park’s flowy trails for the Fatbike Frozen Forty, the sixth race in the eight race Great Lakes Fatbike Series.
The faithful followers of this site have seen the articles on various trail groomers, and this was my first trip to a race with groomed trails, so I was curious to see is it really makes a difference. Granted, what I do isn’t really called racing (more like an odd triathlon of beer, bikes, and photography in the woods), but it’s a good excuse to go play bikes in a new place, and I’m always up for that. And any race that has their packet pick up at Surly Brewing is worth checking into.
Pulling into the park we immediately realized our first mistake. When a race promoter gives you an address to get to the start, you should use it. Our hung over navigator (yours truly) got us to the wrong side of the park. Once that mistake was corrected, it was time to race.
It wasn’t too long before the lead pack in the men’s division came by with Jesse LaLonde in the front. It didn’t take long at all for the front of the pack to break off from the rest. The next time I saw the leaders it was clear who would take the top spot on the podium, but second and third were still too close to call. Jesse had pulled far enough ahead that, barring a mechanical, this was his race to lose. By the end, Jesse took top spot on the podium with over 20 minutes to spare, with Jorden Wakeley and Jeffrey Young taking second and third.
In the women’s field, first and second place, flip flopped from last year, with April Morgan taking the top spot this year and Danielle Musto taking second, with Jill Martindale rounding out the podium spots for the females. The ladies put in just as much work as the men out there, especially since their times would beat most of the guys, so the payout is equal for the men and women at the Triple F.
If the idea of a 40 mile fatbike race doesn’t strike your fancy, the guys at FFF have you covered. You could grab a friend or three and do a fatty relay. Kudos to Ray Brown and Dave Gray, the Cobra Sprayers, for taking first in the team portion.
The promoters, do a great job of putting a lot of awesome people together that care about fatbiking to make FFF the success that it is, and they’re not shy about making sure everyone knows it’s a team effort. From the heated tent to the live picture feed (any tagged photos were automatically uploaded to a live slideshow), it almost felt more festival than race.
As for the groomed trail, the locals said they weren’t in the best of condition, but I’ve never gone so fast on snow before, at least on purpose and not been stopped by a tree. With everything that was done to put on a great race, combined with the trail grooming efforts of CJ Smith and all the other volunteers, this is a race to put on your calendar. And besides, it will be worth showing up next year to see if Jesse can pull off the three-peat and what will happen with the budding Musto/Morgan rivalry in the female division.