9:ZERO:7, 45NRTH, and HED Cycling team up to support a one of a kind arctic ultra expedition
After a long season of fat bike racing, from the brutal Arrowhead 135 to the popular Fat Bike Birkie, 9:ZERO:7 Factory Team rider Will Ross still isn’t ready for the season to be over. His next adventure is will be a solo Fat Bike/Mountaineering round trip expedition from Talkeetna, Alaska to the summit of Denali, the tallest peak in North America. The expedition will be the first of its kind. Ultra Endurance Athletes have ridden to and from the North Pole, some have made attempts to ride fat bikes to and from the South Pole, but no one has ever attempted to reach the summit of any continents tallest peak with a Fat Bike.
Will’s wild trip will begin June 1, 2016 in Talkeetna, Alaska, the headquarters for most of the Denali guiding operations. While most climbers arrive at the Denali Base Camp by plane, Will is going to arrive at the 7,200 foot Southeast Base Camp by Fat Bike aboard a custom built and extra-fat prototype 9:ZERO:7 fat bike. Will isn’t getting off the bike there, he plans to ride right on through the base camp, through the Lower Kahiltna Glacier, through Camp 1 at 7,800 feet, through the 11,200 foot Camp 2, and finally dismount his bike at Camp 3 at 14,200 feet.
When asked why he is riding his bike so far up the mountain instead of the tried and true hiking, Will said “With bike packing and adventure biking becoming so popular, this style of expedition is the next level of fat biking and where the future of the sport is going, so the goal is to reach the summit as fast as possible in hopes that the record stands even after everybody and their mother is out doing this!” After passing through Camp 3, Will is planning on strapping his 9:ZERO:7 prototype fat bike to his back and trekking to the summit by foot with some custom spiked 45NRTH Wolfgar boots. Will is hoping to summit the 20,320 foot mountain in less than four days, and return to Talkeetna within seven days of starting. “I was inspired by Killian Jornet’s record breaking 2014 run from Kahiltna Glacier to the Summit and back in 11 hours 40 minutes. I wanted to do something like that, but with my own spin on it(pun intended). I figure I can ride the 130 land miles (as opposed to 75 air miles) from Talkeetna to Base Camp in one day, rest overnight, ride from the Base Camp to Camp 3 on the second day, and hike from Camp 3 to the Summit on the third day. So that gives me a full days worth of errors to make! Then since its mostly downhill, I should be able to make it back to Talkeetna within 2 days. So once again, I’m giving myself an extra day for the descent just in case.”
Will is not just a cyclist, he is also an accomplished mountain runner. He has competed in Alaska’s grueling and historic Mt. Marathon since he was just 13 years old. In the 2015 edition of the race, he finished just minutes behind the legendary mountain runner Killian Jornet. So this expedition appears to be right up the 26 year old Alaskans alley. “When you look at his cycling resume and his mountain running experience, the question isn’t if he can do it or not, but how fast can he actually do this?” said James Stull, the owner of 9:ZERO:7 bikes.
“A major part of this attempt at fat biking Denali is equipment, and designing the right equipment for the job. We have a built great relationship with 45NRTH, and HED Cycling through the 9:ZERO:7 Factory Team and have involved their product managers in this project to create the fattest ever fat bike.” Stull said of the collaboration. Just as fat bikes were seeming to settle on a standard hub spacing, 9:ZERO:7 took it up a notch from the 197mm standard to an ultra wide 250mm. 9:ZERO:7, named after Alaska’s area code 907 is an Alaskan bike brand specializing in fat bikes just had to go fatter. HED Cycling designed the BFFD, which stands for Big Fat F@#*ing Deal. The new HED BFFD is a 150mm wide carbon fat bike rim that weighs just 550 grams. “With that much elevation gain, Will is going to need the lightest and widest rim possible, and that’s what we created. Our business is what it is today because of our aerodynamics and wind tunnel knowledge, but there is nothing aerodynamic about this new rim, it’s just light weight and really really wide!” laughed Dino Edin, the product designer at HED Cycling. Wrapping those rims will be a pair of 45NRTH Dillinger 7 tires. They are a whopping two inches wider than anything else out there and feature studded center tread in addition to all the standard Dillinger style studded lugs, for a total of 498 carbide tipped concave studs. 45NRTH are also providing customized Wolfgar boots for the expedition. “The stock Wolfgar boots can be studded, so why not stud them with some gnarly inch long spikes so Will doesn’t have to use and carry the weight of crampons. ” said Kurt Barclay, the marketing manager at 45NRTH. “One thing is for sure, if Will Ross completes this expedition, we will have to rename our tires. The new line of studded 45NRTH tires will be named after Will, and we will call them The Willinger!”
Pontiac said it years ago with the catch phrase “Wider is Better”. Well, in this case fatter is better, and this bike is quite rotund!