Every March we say that we’d really like to go down to the Outer Banks in North Carolina to attend 2017 US Open Fat Bike Beach Championship, but it seems like it’s always in conflict with both NAHBS and the Fat Bike Birkie. So this year we contacted the race director, Shawn Spencer and asked if he could send up an event recap to share. This is his report!
Transforming the blank slate of Wrightsville Beach into the best Fat Tire bike race on the beach (IMHO)starts early, real early. Derrick Maready, course design director, Lilly Spencer, overall great assistant and I arrived on the beach at 5:00am to start sculpting the beach. To little fanfare we unloaded tools and supplies awaiting the arrival of the hundred or so volunteers who came out to lay out the stakes, tape the lines and dig the various obstacles and fill sandbags.
As the sun rose to our east the few clouds in the sky appeared to be “Elephants Marching” on the horizon. The weather the following day, Sunday, was forecast to take a turn for the worse and behold, it did. Race day the temps were perfect for racers with the high being right at 60. The sun was out all day along with several Cobra helicopters from the local USMC base who buzzed the event adding a touch of patriotism and awe. Sunday, it snowed at the beach. In 45 years it has only snowed here on the beach about 5 times. However, we lucked out race day Saturday with the beautiful weather.
With racers coming into town from all over the East Coast we had a great vibe around town. As a surfing, triathlon, fishing, paddle boarding mecca, seeing Fat Bike on the back of cars was great. All the fat tracks in the sand definitely pumped up the locals who came out in support on race day. Bike Cycles, The Blockade Runner Resort are co-owners of the race which is heavily supported by Red Bull and other great sponsors. The location of the host resort allows participants to wake up, sip coffee and sit on their balcony to view the course being built. A combination of location, beautiful beach and stoked local fat bike population make for the ultimate beach fat bike race.
With 75 racers on the one mile loop course at one time it made for some challenging passing, quick decisions and at times sandy teeth. Every racer who started the event finished before the tide came in and wiped away the hard pack section of the course. The tide was low at 12:45pm, the race started at 2:00 and the tide was high at 6:00pm. This is one of the challenges of laying out a beach race is that you can only start setting up the course the morning of and must have beach clear by 8pm. Racers ages were from 14 to 74! A couple who raced who are in their 60’s, from a local beach told me they felt like they were 20 years old again rubbing elbows and racing with pro’s from American Classic/Xpedo Pro Mountain Bike Team.
As the racers finished their respected distances 8, 16 or 24 miles the beer flowed thanks to Crank Arm Brewery. This local brew was as tasty as the Southern Barbecue Dinner served up by the host resort Blockade Runner. Fat Bikes and beer seem to go together and this race is no exception. Be sure to check out our web page at Fatcross.com and the hashtag #fatcross on IG for more pics.