The fatbike scene is not a fad that is going away any time soon. Even though we are surely on the tail end of winter, it seems that with the number of fatbike-specific keeps on growing. Based on attendance, there is more than enough interest among fatbike riders to gather together as frequently as possible to pound the pedals. Take the Sweaty Yeti, a small fatbike race we throw together to provide that opportunity, which had double the entrants this year compared to last.
The Sweaty Yeti is now a founding race in The 9:Zero:7 Wisconsin State Fat-Bike Race Series, sponsored by Fatbikes.com and other local sponsors, like Sand Creek Brewing Company. The Neillsville Area Trail Association is the instigator behind the race, a group of dedicated trail builders South West of Neillsville Wisconsin. The fatbike race format tends to be simple: 2 to 3 hour races with categories for solo racers or three-person teams and course laps that usually are short and fun. Most races get started with a shotgun Le Mans sprint to the bikes, and they’re off.
Recent snowfalls didn’t do the trail builders and favors, and hours of packing by snow machine and snowshoes were required to get the Sweaty Yeti course in race shape. Mother nature did finally help out on race day by warming things up a bit and “burning” in the trail.
The 2013 Sweaty Yeti featured a new section of trail, built (for now) as a winter only fatbike route. The locals call it the Bear Den Trail after a false discovery of, yes, you guessed it, a bear’s den. This section of trail had the racers doing a tough low gear climb over a snow covered rocky crag, then flying down narrow singletrack with some high banked corners returning them to the start finish line. As the day progressed, riders reported that the trail only became better and better-the fun factor being very high!
Fatbike races are low key, no-one-is-too-serious events, where enjoying the bikes, the snow and the company of old and new friends are at the top of the list. Not that competition isn’t also present, it is, but fatbike races seem to be a little friendlier than other bike races. I promise that unless Russell is there joking around, you won’t hear some weekend warrior behind you yelling “Rider! Rider!” What I did hear at the Sweaty Yeti this year was some serious talk of organizing an entire Fatbike-O-rama weekend next year, with winter camping, riding and the race. Just one more chance to gather the tribe around for more than a few hours of fatbike fun. I personally think it’ll happen. Levis Mound has the facility and more than enough fatbike winter trail to make it a super weekend of riding.
Who wants in?