On Saturday, February 9th, 2019 fat riders, racers, and the fat-curious descended upon the Saratoga Spa State Park’s Warming Hut for the 5th annual Saratoga Fat Bike Rally.
And par for the course, Ma Nature kept things interesting right up to Rally Eve! Just south of New York’s Adirondack mountain region, Saratoga benefits from plenty of snow, but also the fickle weather that upstate NY and adjacent regions are (in)famous for. Several good snow events and a generally cooperative winter created a great base throughout the season, but a last minute warm front kept the co-conspirators and event volunteers on edge. Everyone rose to the occasion, including Mother Nature. Snow was shoveled, compacted, groomed and re-groomed. Snow bridges were constructed over paved paths. Rally Eve was warm and the forecast called for a much needed cold front to pass through during the overnight hours! And on cue the cold did come, the trail work hardened and most impressively, a very thin band of snow blew through to cover the courses with 2-3” of fresh pow! The course would be fast and fresh!
The day began with a casual group ride among the tall pines. All were welcome and newcomers were embraced as usual. This is where it all begins, literally and figuratively.
Crit style one-hour format racing commenced thereafter on the very fast course. Winners you ask? The women saw Kim Milton over the finish line first then Emily Flynn followed by Carolyn Snook-Hart. The lads had Paul Ford first to finish followed by Andy Ruiz then Shawn Kelly.
There’s always a Cupid’s Challenge 1.35 race and the rules always change a bit from year to year. This year racers were tethered to each other with red warning tape like you’d see at a construction site or crime scene. Stay tethered and first to finish wins. Paul Izyk/Carolyn Snook Hart were 1st, followed by Wendi Sebastian Takakura/Yohsuke Takakura and Michael Baker/Stephanie Rios for 3rd.
The traditional Spirit Award was renamed the DVN or Dave Van Norden award in honor of our longtime fat biking comrade and first-ever recipient of the Rally Spirit Award (which tells you something about him). Dave lost his hard-fought battle with cancer recently and embodied everything the Rally holds dear. Turn the cranks, twist the throttle and raise a toast to Dave!! This year’s recipient of the 1st DVN award goes to Rich Shade!
Last but absolutely not least, a huge thanks goes out to the generous sponsors and volunteers that pull this off! The Rally would simply not exist without the generosity of the following: Common Roots Brewing, Grey Ghost Bicycles, The Barrelhouse of Saratoga, Unified Beerworks, Growler Bikes, Upstate Distilling Company, Mountainman Outdoor Supply of Saratoga, The Bread Basket Bakery, Crepe Me Up and last but not least, CK Cycles!