“That was the dream come true, it couldn’t have been any better”
by Than Acuff
Despite a monumental year of snow with skiing off the hook in Crested Butte, the Borealis Fat Bike Worlds hosted by the Crested Butte/Mt. Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with the Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association (CBMBA) proved that there is a future for the sport, a fat future.
“This year ended up being an absolutely phenomenal event through and through,” says chamber director Eliza Cress. “It was a great combination of epic riding, great courses and partying. We ended up selling out which bodes well for next year.”
Close to 300 participants signed up for the series of races on the North Village, Town Ranch venues and downhill riding at CBMR. CBMBA director Dave Ochs had a frantic week leading up to the event as the organization spent numerous hours setting and resetting track for fat bikers as winds whipped through the north end of the valley.
“It got a little frantic but we had some awesome volunteers out shoveling and we just kept on top of it,” says Ochs.
The crew got a break in the windy weather and temperatures plummeted 24 hours prior to the opening races on Thursday, January 26 allowing the course to set up somewhat, but as the races wore on, the course wore down.
“I think it worked out great,” says Ochs. “It did fall apart in spots but that’s fat biking, it’s not all peaches and cream.”
Fortunately, relatively everyone escaped unscathed and on Friday the fat bike curious had an opportunity to take fat bikes for a spin on a variety of tracks set out throughout the north end of the valley.
“There were bikes all over the place,” says Ochs. “They had three places to ride and people just loved it.”
With winds gone and temperatures sub-zero, riders were treated to firm and fast conditions for the Borealis Fat Bike World Championships race on Saturday.
“That was the dream come true, it couldn’t have been any better,” says Ochs. “Dean Davis of the Nordic cat crew knew exactly what we wanted.”
The field of riders spanned all abilities from several parts of the world ready to endure the freezing temperatures. Both 2016 Fat Bike World Champions Robbie Squire and Amy Beisel were back, heavily decorated pro mountain bike rider Travis Brown was back, a slew of local talent jumped in and riders from all over Colorado, some from the East Coast, Hawaii and even the United Kingdom saddled up for Saturday’s race.
As is his modus operandi, local Brick Oven rider Jordan Willoford, aka Lieutenant Dangle, set the pace on lap one of the five-lap open class race jumping out in front.
As the race progressed, a two-man battle between Squire (who also is a former U23 national road champion and currently rides for the Holowesko-Citadel racing team) and Alex Grant, a professional endurance mountain bike racer for Cannondale, was in the works. A small hiccup from Grant opened a door for Squire and he took the opportunity to pull away for the win finishing the five-lap 30+-mile course in a time of 1:45:49.
On the women’s side Beisel was in the running for a repeat title but when all was said and done, Karen Jarchow took the women’s title in a time of 2:04:02 with Beisel in second just 13 minutes behind.
As for human branding, no one dropped trou and the branding iron was put away, only to get lost later that night as fat bikers and organizers were busy celebrating the end of a tremendous day.
The four-day fatfest wrapped up on Sunday, January 29 with downhill fat biking on Crested Butte Mountain Resort under the Gold Link lift. CBMR and Ochs did what they could to provide downhill track with banked turns and all of the trimmings but rider styles and sunshine started to break the downhill course down. Still, with the Umbrella Bar at the top of the venue and lift rides provided, close to 100 fat bikers made the most of the opportunity to ride their fat bikes on a groomed downhill track on the ski area and closed out the festival in fine form.
“It was something unique and everybody was having a good time,” says Ochs.
As for the future, Cress hopes to continue growing the event, just not too much, and keep it as an “unsanctioned” race.
“We’re hoping to be able to increase the number of people who participate but figure out what the perfect number is to maintain the integrity of the event,” says Cress. “We’re going to keep it unsanctioned indefinitely because that allows us to do what we want to do.”