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US Fat-Bike Nationals – Up Close & Personal

Last weekend’s US Fat-Bike Championships at the Fat Bike Birkie was the ‘Woodstock’ of fat-biking. Carlos Santana jammed with Hendrix and the Jefferson Airplane played a 2 hour set! The Fat-Bike Birkie had it all! Mountain Bike legends like Travis Brown and Ned Overend raced the very best of the rising stars of fat-bike racing. Our amigos from Alaska flew in and threw down at the front of the race. This is one of the only big races that I can remember, where stars like these lined up shoulder to shoulder with regular folks….raced and then hung out and were totally accessible to anyone that wanted a picture or just wanted to chat. If you were there, you know what I’m talking about. If you missed it, you’ll be kicking yourself, that you missed this golden opportunity that will forever be etched in this writer’s memory! We’ll all be talking about this day for years to come!

It all started bright and early on Saturday morning on the grounds of the now, derelict Telemark Lodge near Cable, Wisconsin. Our plan was to have Sven shoot the action out on the course and I would cover the start and finish. The day started out in the teens and mother nature put on a championship show with sunny skies and periods of overcast with just enough sun-snow to frame the scene in a perfect winter wonderland backdrop for the day’s competition. Our coverage starts with shots taken during the ‘call ups’ at the starting line.

Jorden Wakeley, Jesse LaLonde & Ned Overend

Jorden Wakeley, Jesse LaLonde & Ned Overend

Fresh of from his record setting ITI podium - Tim Berntson

Fresh of from his record setting ITI podium – Tim Berntson

Brendan Moore & Evan Simula

Brendan Moore, Tim, Jorden, Jesse, & Ned

Travis Brown & Evan Simula

Travis Brown & Evan Simula

Diana McFadden & April Morgan

Diana McFadden & April Morgan

Travis Rock'n the Aero Bars

Travis Rock’n the Aero Bars

Brendan, Jorden, Jesse & Ned

Brendan, Jorden, Tim (15), Will Ross (16) Jesse & Ned

The neutral start - photo courtesy of the American Birkebeiner Foundation

The neutral start – photo courtesy of the American Birkebeiner Foundation

The neutral start was not an easy roll out. From the gun, the front of the race rocketed down the first icy hill and about 50 riders into the field there was a crash that halted progress for a bit and then everyone settled in nicely. Sven grabbed the shot below as the racers swept left onto the ski trails.

Last year's Fatbike Birkie champ, Jorden Wakeley leads out the field shortly after the start.

Last year’s Fatbike Birkie champ, Jorden Wakeley leads out the field shortly after the start.

8.5K into the race the field selection had already been made with Jorden Wakeley and Jesse LaLonde leading the charge.

8.5K into the race the field selection had already been made with Jorden Wakeley and Jesse LaLonde leading the charge.

For the first 20k Jorden and Jesse pushed the pace and did much of the work at the front of the elite group of about a dozen riders. Brendan Moore, Will Ross, Tim Bertson, Ned Overend, Jamie Stull and Carey Grumelot were all part of that group. The group stayed together untill the turn-around at DoubleO. Right after the turn around Jesse and Jorden took fresh bottles and sat up for a second and that’s when Ned Overend launched his first of many attacks. Behind the lead group, people were having a total blast!

Camaraderie and fun permeated the field at the 2014 Fatbike Nationals.

Camaraderie and fun permeated the field at the 2014 Fatbike Nationals.

George Kapitz shows some style at the 8.5K mark.

George Kapitz shows some style at the 8.5K mark.

Todd McFadden, fresh off a 4th Place finish at the Iditarod Trail Invitational in Alaska assists the racers with water and energy drink.

Todd McFadden, fresh off a 4th Place finish at the Iditarod Trail Invitational in Alaska assists the racers with water and energy drinks out on the course.

Mason Bacso, seen here discussing his steed with Todd McFadden, gets our "Hero of the Race" award for racing the 47K on a Wallgoose! Yep, singlespeed and coaster brake!

Mason Bacso, seen here discussing his steed with Todd McFadden, gets our “Hero of the Race” award for racing the 47K on a Wallgoose! Yep, singlespeed and coaster brake!

Back at the front, Ned repeatedly put in attacks and started to spit riders out the back with his efforts. Brendan put in some strong pulls as did Jesse LaLonde, But as soon as the pace slackened and the group started to come back together, Ned would kick again. Eventually Ned’s attacks blew the lead group apart and he took the lead for good!

With 12K to go, Ned Overend put the hammer down pulling away from 2nd Place finisher Will Ross and the rest of the field.

With 12K to go, Ned Overend put the hammer down pulling away from 2nd Place finisher Will Ross and the rest of the field.

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2nd Place finisher, Will Ross.

2nd Place finisher, Will Ross.

3rd Place finisher, Brendan Moore.

3rd Place finisher, Brendan Moore.

4th Place finisher, Jesse LaLonde.

4th Place finisher, Jesse LaLonde.

In the ladies race, April Morgan and Diana McFadden were riding together, taking turns at the front and working together. April shared that they thought that they had the lead, but to their surprise, Jenna Rinehart came streaking by them. April tried to latch onto Jenna and with that effort put a gap on Diana. Jenna was climbing so strong that April couldn’t keep her in sight and that was the way that they finished, with Jenna taking the win.

2014 Women's Fatbike National Champ, Jenna Rinehart getting it done with about 13K left to go.

2014 Women’s Fatbike National Champ, Jenna Rinehart getting it done with about 13K left to go.

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4th Place finisher, Rebecca Rusch

Ned crossing the finish line!

Ned crossing the finish line!

Will, Ned and Brendan just after their historic finish.

Will, Ned and Brendan just after their historic finish.

Diana, April & Jenna were all smiles at the finish!

Diana, April & Jenna were all smiles at the finish!

The finish area was party central after the race. The Birkie had a big tent set up with brats and beer and some expo space. This is where they awarded all of the prizes and where Ned and Jenna donned the stars and stripes jersey as the very first men’s and women’s US Fat-Bike National Champions!

Ned Overend, Will Ross, Brendan Moore

Will Ross – Ned Overend – Brendan Moore

Jenna Rinehart, April Morgan, Diana McFadden

April Morgan – Jenna Rinehart – Diana McFadden

The first US Fat-Bike National Champions, both rode Specialized Fatboys to victory. The top 4 places in the men’s race were all riding Hed – Big Deal, carbon rims. 9:Zero:7 put two riders on the men’s podium and two of the ladies that podiumed rode Salsas.

This was an incredibly well run event! I had more fun than I can put into words and we haven’t even gotten to the After Party part of the story. I will tell you this….With the help of approximately 300 thirsty patrons and our very generous sponsors, we managed to raise $723 for the Namekagon Fat-Bike Club that builds and grooms the area’s fat-bike specific trails!

I love a happy ending and to tell you the truth, I never knew that I could be this happy!

Some Links

Video Feed of the Race – http://new.livestream.com/xcountrylive – Available for viewing through April 7

Results – http://www.itiming.com/html/raceresults

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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7 Responses to US Fat-Bike Nationals – Up Close & Personal

  1. Jason Carter March 11, 2014 at 4:33 pm #

    Yaaay Gomez!

    Great Story. Great Fun. Great Party!

    Congrats to ALL the people directly and indirectly connected to making the Fat Bike Birkie a reality….for many years to come!

    Cheers from Winterpeg,

    Jason.

  2. Chris D March 11, 2014 at 5:05 pm #

    Awesome photos! I can’t believe Ned Overend is still KILLING IT on a bicycle! There is hope for us old guys after all.

    Kudos on the coverage gentlemen.

  3. Matt March 11, 2014 at 7:16 pm #

    This was a top class race from start to finish. Thanks to every person involved in putting it on, and especially the folks standing in the woods handing out warm beverages and open GU’s all day!

  4. Antoine P March 12, 2014 at 6:14 pm #

    Nice write-up and photos G, YOU guys are killing it – like being there.

    We need to enjoy “stars lining-up shoulder to shoulder with regular folks” as long as we can, you know it won’t last.

    I got a taste of that at the Singlespeed World Champs in NZ, reminded me of the early days of mountainbiking.

  5. Jon Strosahl March 12, 2014 at 8:21 pm #

    Great write up…sounds like a great event.

    Ned is a beast.

  6. Casey Buckleitner March 12, 2014 at 8:22 pm #

    Good write up!

  7. robert January 6, 2015 at 5:56 am #

    Nice write up. Hope I can make it sometime.