45NRTH Triple Crown #1 Fat Bike Race
An unseasonably relatively snow-free November had me second guessing whether I even wanted to be riding my fat bike yet. Sure, temperatures were cold, but the trails were a mix of light snow cover, and frozen solid dirt. And although you see the odd person riding their fat-bike year round, the truth is, they SUCK to ride when there is no snow. Yes, that's right, I said they suck! I just alienated the one guy I know who does ride a fat bike year round, but I'm sticking by it.
But as the first stop on the 45NRTH Triple Crown series rolled into YEG, I found myself busting out the fat bike, ready to have some fun with a race plate one.
After being extensively involved with the DBA's efforts to run Alberta's first ever fat bike race 4 years ago, it was exciting to see the scene burst open with multiple events in the years to come. As of this year, I believe there are 10+ fat bike events in Alberta!
I'm actually a little ashamed to admit this year was my first time racing any fat bike race outside of the DBA"s Blizzard Bike Race, and as luck would have it, it would be relatively snow-free. I would have had more fun on my mountain bike, but I made the decision to run the fatty due in part to not wanting to subject the brand new Cannondale Scalpel-Si to any conditions that could cause some premature wear and tear. So with that, I lined up with a mix of racers on mountain bikes and fat bikes at 9 am, ready to see how many laps we could knock off in 4 hours.
Photo Credit: Cody Shimizu
I had made what I thought was the foolish decision to run studded tires. I had only been out briefly in week leading up to the event, but gambled that the recent freeze with no snow to cover things up would lead to icy conditions. The tires felt hellishly slow on any hardpack, but if things got icy, I'd be laughing. We finished the first lap on a course that was mostly dirt with a tiny bit of hard-pack snow, and a lot of fun trails! No ice though. I was definitely regretting the choice to run studded tires.
Lap 2 was even more fun. The Kokanee Redbike crew did a great job planning out a fantastically fun route. Having not pre-ridden the course, and listening to the quick pre-race briefing on the course had left me a little nervous about finding my way. Since the course was 11 km long throughout popular areas of the city, it was not fully taped or closed off. Rather, racers followed ribbons tied to trees with a few arrows mixed in to help. It was no problem at all once you started going, and I can thankfully say I did not take any wrong turns.
Photo Credit: Cody Shimizu
On lap 3 I started to fade a little bit. The Ultragen protein drink nutrition plan was starting to be harder to stomach, which took it's toll on how I felt on the bike. Time to continue the on-bike protein source search! How I wish I could find the discontinued RVL drink that got me through Africa in 2015....
Lap 3 was also where studded tires started to pay off. It seemed the traffic on the trails was polishing the few sections of hardpack snow into glare ice. Running studded tires wasn't such a bad idea after all.
My 4th and final lap felt a little flat, but as I would learn later, was on-par with my other efforts. My 4 laps ranged from 49:39 to 52:29, so they were consistent, and definitely a positive to pull from a fun Sunday race.
Not that placing matters much in a casual fat bike race, but I rolled across the line in 4th, which is good enough for me! It was a great way to get some longer intensity under the belt as I start to dive into getting more hours on the bike.
Big thanks to Kokanee Redbike for their work in organizing - I can't wait for round 2!
As always, thanks for reading. Next up, balancing some training with the last few weeks of classes and final exams. After that, it's all about the bike for ~100 days or so!