I’ve had a couple of days to digest last Saturday’s spectacular fat bike event hosted by Hugh Jass at the Trek cyclocross track in Waterloo. I’ve been to my fair share of fat bike events but I haven’t seen this many riders on a race course at the same time since the pandemic. The photo above is the calm before the storm.
The line to register was about 50 people deep before the start. There were three hundred thirty-one racers on the starting line. They started the Elite Racers a minute before the Citizen Class. As that huge field made its way out onto the course, the spectacle that ensued was incredible to watch. From the high point on the course, I could see a somewhat panoramic view of the two-and-a-half-mile loopty loop, and everywhere that I looked, there were dozens of cyclists…many clad in ugly holiday sweaters or lumberjack plaid plying their trade in earnest. Bike racers from here to Sunday! But let me start from the beginning…
The pre-race was filled with all kinds of bike porn. If you’re a bike nerd (like me) there was plenty of bicycle eye candy to go around. So I walked around and took some snapshots for the internet. This year the weather has seemed to cooperate in an amazing fashion for the first two races in the HJ Series. Soon after the race started, it started snowing and didn’t stop until the end of the race with temps in the low twenties. It was a pretty cold and raw day, but they had nice fires going and warm beverages.
I ran into a bunch of amigos. The best thing about events like a Hugh Jass Race is the people that attend. It’s always nice to see the folks that make fat biking in the big Whiskey so much FUN!
Jason Kloptowsky and Cole House led the race from the start. I talked to Cole before the race and he told me that he hadn’t ridden a bike in three months and added that he had borrowed the bike that he was riding from a buddy that didn’t ride it much. He joked about how it had four-inch Maxxis Minions on it. His bike looked like a stock Salsa Beargrease, fresh from the showroom.
Cole sat behind Jason for most of the race until the last lap. Jason told me that Cole put in a series of attacks and got a gap at the end of the race. When I asked Cole how he managed to get the lead over Jason for the win, he told me that maybe his racing knowledge and experience had made the difference on the day. Cole proved that he still has the legs to win a sprint at the end of a long race.
We didn’t get any pictures of the Series Points Leader and back-2-Back Champion Leia Schneeberger out on the course, but every time that I saw her, she was laying down the power and looking smooth! It seemed like her bike was connected to the snow. I did manage to get a few cool pictures of some of mi amigos having fun out on the course!
All of the results are HERE but Hugh Jass races are about so much more than race results. It’s more like going to a fat bike carnival. Not the spooky/creepy carnival (with clowns), but a groovy, fun carnival (with clowns & fat bikes). Every great carnival has food, fun, and rides and these guys have all three of those things dialed!
Did I mention good craft beer? They’ve got their own locally brewed beer on tap along with great music. Hugh Jass is a good old-fashioned Wisconsin-flavored tailgate party with a bike race and rides all rolled into one. It was great seeing so many people enjoying winter riding and great to see so many of my amigos at the event!
There’s an ample supply of fat bikes to rent at Hugh’s bike parties too. The Hugh Jass Series is an easy way to try out fat bike riding/racing. There are three more races in the series. Start training your smiling muscles for race day!
- JANUARY 7 – MINOOKA PARK
- FEBRUARY 4 – SILVER LAKE PARK
- FEBRUARY 25 – BLACKHAWK TRAILS
More series info here – https://hughjass.bike/