Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sweaty Yeti

Russell in Winter Colour
It has become apparent that the Fatbike scene is not just a flash in the pan novelty. The big wheeled bikes have been around for some time, the first being modified double rim jobs first seen in the Iditasport race in Alaska.  In the rest of the country, they have been rare it seems until the past couple years and now they are popping up in a lot of cyclists garages-especially this winter.  I've long ago embraced the fatbike as my all around, all season bike-I just like how it rides and where it can go.

If you have a bunch of people with a new found love of winter riding, you'll probably get someone who thinks out loud- "Well, we should race these things!"  And there was and we do.  The just-for-fun races kicked into full gear last year, including our inaugural "Sweaty Yeti" race at the Levis Mound Trail.  Although small in turnout, there was a growing enthusiasm there and we brought it back for a second year.  Doubling the riders and having the perfect winter day made for a great race-the course getting better with every lap (Thank goodness!). 

This post isn't a race report really-as race director, I tried to be sure I had great volunteers and as many ducks in a row as possible so riders visiting our trail would have a "I wanna-come-back" experience.  Everything starts running itself after the gun goes off, so I had a rare opportunity to walk the course, camera in hand and make a few photographs of what this whole snowbike/fatbike thing is about.  

Scott on Bear Den
We'd had an unwelcome dump of snow 2 days prior to the race, which made the job of all the groomers that more difficult.  One trail however, the Bear Den, turned out to be amazing.  It was conceived as a winter only downhill section after last years race, and with the addition of a connecting trail, ended up being the racers favorite.  Good friend Scott Cole above gave it his approval.

Racing on Bear Den
A short connector trail off the Upper Glen trail turned out well, and even with a small climb midway through, it remained a swoopy fast section worthy of a race course.

Justin Racin
Hammerhead, nice guy and eventual race winner Justin Piontek rocked the course and could traverse the climbs and downhills at amazing speeds-ahh, it pays to be young and have a great coach.  Unlike so many top race dogs, Justin is friendly and always appreciative of the work done by trailbuilders and our meager race prizes of hand made mittens and aSand Creek sixpack seemed to be more than enough as race winnings.

The Sweaty Yeti
It's very difficult to get a good photograph of a Sweaty Yeti....I just know one came riding in and he was.  

Flyin Down the Bear Den
The new snow left a very scenic landscape and I liked the longer distance images of the riders as they passed by.

The Look
Upper Glen is not an easy climb, but once up and over the rocky crag, one is is rewarded with a fast sketchy downhill-well worth the gear grinding effort.

I Heart MY FatBike!
Good friend and singletrack grooming guru Dan Hiller decided to make his bike as heavy as possible during the race, so Go Pro cameras were attached at about every braze-on-we're all anxiously waiting for the amazing video he'll produce!

Upper Glen Climb
Jen on Upper Glen
There are core groups of Fatbikers around the state and Jen Barden is a top notch pedal masher from the Wausau clan.  She'll be at the highest podium for most races, but more importantly is an advocate for the sport and so enthusiastic for everything that includes a bike and being on a trail.

One by Nine Climb
Too twisty and narrow for a snowmachine to groom, all of the new winter trails had to be packed by snowshoe-working out well in our case because we had so many volunteers putting in the hours to make it work.  As the race went on, these sections just became firmer and firmer and a blast to ride.

Trail volunteer Mark Haferman finally pulled the trigger on a fatbike and decided to enjoy some of his singletrack handiwork by racing this year-all smiles by the end.

Race Start
My recent piece on ski trails and fatbikes living together should have included this image or several others of skiers and bikers alongside each other.  Okay, so this was an unusual case with the race and all, but still it illustrates that these sports can work together as my biker trash friends Laura, Phil and Dan can attest to.

Sweaty Start
I decided to finish this post with the start photograph.  Keeping with the fun-at-all costs theme of fatbike racing, we used a Le Mans start-shotgun blast and a running sprint around a deer and back to mount the bike and willy-nilly take off.  It works and is a fan favorite.  I just like seeing all these fatbikes speeding away on "my" trail!

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