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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
Video Feed of the Race – http://new.livestream.com/xcountrylive – Available for viewing through April 7
Results – http://www.itiming.com/html/raceresults