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Saratoga Fat Bike Rally Report – by Bob Rainville

Located just north of New York’s Capital District is the town of Saratoga. Although Saratoga is known for its thoroughbred racing fame, a different type of beast graced the area for the 4th running of the Saratoga Fat Bike Rally. On Saturday, February 10th, Fat-bike riders from across upstate NY descended upon what is known as the Warming Hut to partake in this growing and evolving festival.

A gnome on the Green Goblin

This was the first year riders benefited from machine grooming via The Green Goblin and it couldn’t have come at a better time, as the park saw significant snowfall the week prior to the event. Overall, course conditions were good on race day in spite of rain and warmer temperatures. A huge ‘thank you’ goes out to Tony and Dan for the mechanical grooming as well as Jim, Aaron and Shawne for grooming “old school”.

Fifty-nine entered the main lap-style event with a one hour cut off. Adult beverage hand-ups were available on each lap with many takers. Ryan Conley won the men’s division in 52:03 with 4 laps and Kim Milton won the women’s with 4 laps in 52:03.

The Groomer’s Challenge

Since this is a festival of Fat, we couldn’t just race a traditional race and call it a day. The Groomer’s Challenge required individual racers or 2 person relay teams to pull a weighted sled in head to head competition. Cupid’s Challenge was a 2 person “couples” relay race that required the use of one bike between the two racers. The Bikepacker’s Challenge requires racers to find several “tokens” hidden in the far reaches of the park as revealed in the pre-race briefing. Riders chose their own course based on local knowledge, conditions, etc. The winner is the first one to return to home base (The Warming Hut) AND boil 8 oz of water they were carrying along with a stove and pot. First to get the water boiling wins. It was a close one this year with 3 racers getting to a boil within seconds of each other.

Fat-Bike.com did an interview with Shawne Camp several seasons ago in regard to his Singletrack Giveback program. Shawne, one of the Conspirators of the Rally, was representing this great community service fundraiser with a killer raffle with swag from 45 North, Common Roots Brewery, MountainMan Outdoor Supply, CK Cycles and other sponsors. Over $500 was raised and donated to Franklin Community Center. Proceeds from the raffle as well as participant donated non-perishable items will benefit local charities and pantries.

Festival-goers had fat bike rentals available from Grey Ghost Bicycles. Beverages served by Common Roots Brewery and Barkeaters Coffee. Eats served by Crepe Me Up. Prizes and swag donated by Henry Street Taproom, Common Roots Brewery, MountainMan Outdoor Supply Company, Upstate Distilling, Industrious Hijinx and CK Cyclery. Event photos by Focal Blue Photography.

Plans are already being made for next year’s Rally. We can’t wait to see what the Conspirators (Jim, Aaron, Shawne, and Tony) have up their sleeves for the 5th running of The Saratoga Fat Bike Rally.

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