Fat Bike Worlds returns next week

Low psi, fat tires, free demos, beer

by Than Acuff

For the third year in a row, the north end of the valley will be inundated with fat bikes as the Crested Butte/Mt. Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce hosts the Borealis Fat Bike Worlds, presented by Upslope Brewing Company.

The four-day festival of all things fat bike opens Wednesday evening, January 24 with the kick-off party at the Brick Oven at 5:30 p.m. From then through Sunday, it’s fat bike insanity with races, rides and even lift-served downhilling available for everyone from fat bike enthusiasts to the fat bike curious.

Last year the event drew close to 350 fat bikers to town, including 200 competing in the Fat Bike World Championship race.

This year, Fat Bike Worlds technical director Dave Ochs is hoping for around the same number. While 500 participants would bring in the money, it would take away from the experience.

“Around 250 is a great amount because it’s manageable and will be a great experience for all,” says Ochs.

Registration for the event opened hot, cooled off as the weather patterns had Crested Butte high and dry, but appears to be back on track as the event draws near and the snow has fallen, with numbers around 200 as of this week.

“Our goal was 300 but registrations stalled due to the weather,” adds Crested Butte/Mt. Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce event coordinator Scott Stewart. “We generally see a last push from the local crowd and the drive market.”

Stewart expects to come close to 250 participants with 50 percent of registrations coming from out of county including some from out of state and even a crew from the United Kingdom. Registration for the two race days will be open until the night before so you have until Wednesday evening to get in on Thursday’s race and you have until Friday evening if you want to partake in the Fat Bike World Championships race.

“We want to keep it open for as long as we possibly can,” says Stewart.

The first races of the event will be on Thursday, January 25 at 11 a.m. in the North Village venue by the Snodgrass trailhead. In its first year the course caused some serious carnage, but tweaks to the course last year has a more rider-friendly track now in place.

“The course is already set to go, so head up there and ride the hell out of the North Village,” says Ochs.

Fat Bike Worlds takes a break from the racing action on Friday but there is still plenty to do as the companies will be back at the North Village with demos ready. A variety of fat bike grooming implements will be out, laying down some sweet track starting at 10 a.m.

The event comes to a head on Saturday, January 27 when riders will line up at 11 a.m. for the third annual Fat Bike World Championships behind the Crested Butte Community School on the Town Ranch.

Sandwiched between the town of Crested Butte and Crested Butte Mountain, the East Side venue has killer views up and down the valley, as well as the charm of being right in town. The venue is typically designated for Nordic skiing only, but permission from the Crested Butte Nordic Center allows organizers to set up a fat bike course you will never forget.

And though the low-snow start to our winter had organizers scrambling to find a new course, the latest string of storms and the grooming maestros at Crested Butte Nordic will have a course much like the ones in the past ready for racing.

“We will have a slight course change and we’ll have to get a little creative but we will keep it a similar distance,” says Ochs.

Granted, while it is the Fat Bike World Championships and a slew of top riders, including some defending champions, will be in attendance, the race has two distance options and is open to all comers.

“There will be the five-lap course for the worlds and a three-lap course for the fun category,” says Ochs. “We want people to dress up and have a good time.”

There will be the same vendor village with food, drinks and fat bikes and Ochs is looking for people to come out in droves to behold the spectacle.

“I want to see people out there on course doing stupid stuff,” says Ochs. “It’s in line with Crested Butte to put on a good party.”

Once people are done licking their metaphysical wounds from Saturday’s extravaganza, there’s one more day in store as Crested Butte Mountain Resort rolls out not one, but two lift-served groomed downhill courses for participants to test their fat bike handling skills by the Gold Link Lift.

“We’ll have two firm, good surfaces for people to ride on,” says Ochs.

“They’ve been a huge help,” says Stewart of Crested Butte Mountain Resort. “They’re instrumental in allowing us to use the North Village and the lift-served downhill; it’s been huge.”

For a more specific schedule, registration and anything else you may need to know about the Fat Bike Worlds, head to cbchamber.com. There is a 20 percent discount for all chamber members and Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association members.

And, as always, volunteers are needed to pull off this event. To help out as a course marshal contact Ochs at dave@cbmba.org. To jump into the logistical side of things such as moving and setting up tents and helping out at the vendor expo contact Stewart at events@cbchamber.com.

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