2020 Saratoga Fat Bike Rally
Feb 8, 2020, Saratoga Spa State Park, The Warming Hut
Since 2015, humans of the Fat Bike tribe have descended upon a small state park in Saratoga every February for the mandatory fun and camaraderie known as the Saratoga Fat Bike Rally. The 6th version of the Rally saw more attendance than ever and delivered on its main objective: to yield more smiles per square mile than any other self-propelled wintertime pursuit! All one has to do is show up and be present to experience the good vibes associated with the growing local Fat Bike scene here in the Upstate NY. Registered attendees hailed from as far away as Florida.
The Rally is aptly named. It’s a gathering of the Fat Tribe to ride, race, compete, explore, tell tall tales, eat, drink and be merry. To celebrate friends in the flesh and in spirit. Oh…and win some cool swag. The Rally is what you need it to be.
Ma Nature played fast and loose with the pre-Rally weather as usual, but the Co-conspirators along with the dedicated professionals of Saratoga Spa State Park overcame Her shenanigans and delivered a course as lusciously fast as ever! Master snow wranglers and trail beasts Jim Adams, Aaron Girard, and Anthony Ferradino laid out and tirelessly groomed the course on Rally Eve into nightfall. My wife Josée and I were supposed to arrive that morning from the extreme Northern Nether-region of NY, but were held back by a pretty intense snow event that dumped 18+ inches in a short period of time. To the south in Rally Land, this same weather event was producing less snow and a good amount of sleet and freezing rain. As I recall during a phone conversation that day, Jim said something along the lines of “we had to run out of the woods once we heard the tree limbs snapping off and hitting the ground on a regular basis”. In the pre-dawn hours of Rally day, the park superintendent notified Aaron that the road leading to the Warming Hut was closed as were many other entrances to the park due to numerous limbs down across roads and trails. Aaron quickly went into triage mode and devised a plan for attendees to access the event. Ultimately, the State Park crew cleaned up that section of the road as well as plow the parking lot! They were a professional class act and ultimately the unsung heroes of the 2020 Rally!
Although everybody is a winner at the Rally, I must now give recognition to events and awards. The Gauntlet was the name for the crit-style race that typically sees strong, fast riders of all types push their limits. As I mentioned before, the 2020 course was fast and predominately smooth.
- Kim Milton
- Stephanie Rios
- Malgorzata Kaladjian
- David Berg
- Justin Frontuto
- Paul Ford
The Bikepacker’s Challenge changed its format this year. Traditionally this fun event has riders seeking small items within the park, sometimes off-trail, to collect and return to home base. The rider then has to set up their backcountry stove kit and be the first to boil water. This year’s challenge skipped the seeking of items and transitioned to a lap-style race that culminated in a group boil-off. This year’s Bikepacker’s Challenge winner was Kyle Esposito.
Fat Biking is for lover’s and the Rally is always a sucker for a good love story. Cupid’s Challenge is a race where couples of any variety ride their Fatties tethered via surveyors tape to each other. The first couple to cross the finish line whilst still connected wins. Michael Baker and Steph Rios won the coveted Flaming Love Squid Award!
The Rally would not be complete without the Handup Race. Although not absolutely mandatory, riders imbibe a splash of chilled spirit supplied by Upstate Distilling on each lap. We forgot who came in first and so did the riders. Nobody cares anyway because this was just too much fun!
On a more serious note, the Rally always acknowledges those that selflessly volunteer their time and energy to making the Rally an annual event. This individual or group not only provides tangible assistance to the event but also embodies the “why” of the Rally ethos. The spirit award, now known as The Dave Van Norden Award was bestowed upon Jesse Vollick, Andrew Shilliday and Kurt Feisthamel. The “Jersey Contingent” has always jumped in to keep the parking lot in some type of order and they always have fun! Always! Enjoy those flasks lads!
Group rides spontaneously sprung up throughout the day. The Park is ripe for exploration along the miles of carriage trails, singletrack and roads. Veteran Rally-goers often intermingle with newcomers and are sometimes seen giving impromptu tours of the Park.
The Rally is and has been a self-sustaining endeavor thanks to sponsors and participants. The co-conspirators have always believed in giving back to the community in some meaningful way. This year we raised a little over $1000 for Andrew Rizzi and his NICA kids!
Last and certainly not least, we need to give the Rally sponsors their due. Without them, the Rally would not be where it is today! In no particular order, Thank You Christian Weber and Common Roots Brewery for always being there and providing your tasty beverages! Thank You to Grey Ghost Bicycles for providing rentals to Rally goers along with your technical expertise. How can you not love a bike company that names their bikes after craft beer styles? Thanks, Growler Bikes for providing demo rides and expertise to participants. Fist bump to Erika Anderson and Jeff Manion of Unified Beerworks for always participating and definitely for hosting the Apres-Rally gathering at your pub! Everybody loved the eats supplied by Old Thyme BBQ! When traveling to Saratoga, refuel at Henry Street Taproom, The Barrelhouse and Flatbread Social. CK Cycles and Mountainman Outdoors supplied a lot of the raffle swag, so check them out if you’re in the area. FastSigns of Saratoga provided the banners and signs directing you to your destination and to our sponsors. Industrious Hijinx is the brainchild of Natasha and Jim Adams, which orchestrates the Rally as well as other Bike-Culture media events to you. Focal Blue Photography provided the Rally images and storytelling, so give them a shout if you need sports or bike-lifestyle images. Here’s a shortcut to the Rally image gallery.