With a name like “Fat Bike Worlds,” you might think this event is a serious race, for only the best and fastest on fat tires. The reality is, it’s quite the opposite. While this non-sanctioned event brings plenty of strong riders and racers, it also brings the fat-curious, those who have never been on a fat bike a day in their lives, and those just looking for a good time in the beautiful mountain town of Crested Butte, Colorado.
There are no qualifiers or prerequisites for Fat Bike Worlds. Anyone can register, show up, and ride as much or as little as they’d like. They can be competitive and serious, or completely silly. They can be pro racers or weekend warriors. The event is designed so that there’s something to satisfy everyone, and it’s an entire long weekend of fun.
People show up Wednesday night, register, and drink free beer. This years beer sponsor was Upslope Brewing of Boulder, Colorado.
Thursday is “acclimation day.” Crested Butte is at 9000 feet, so rather than sending everyone out for a hardcore ride, Thursday’s “race” is all about wearing costumes and drinking along the way. There are a handful of people who get serious and want to win, but many others are just happy to get one lap in, or two, or finish the course, regardless of how long it takes.
Friday is demo day. Multiple fat bike vendors come out to provide bikes for anyone who wants to try one out. It gives the public a chance to try a fat bike, and anyone who raced on Thursday the chance to rest, ski, drink beer, hang out in town, or do whatever else they’d like.
Saturday is the actual “Fat Bike Worlds” race, which takes place on groomed nordic ski trails normally not open for biking. There are Rec and Open categories, which are 15 and 25 miles, respectively.
On Sunday, the ski area opens up their lifts and terrain park to fat bikes for downhill riding, which turns out to be yet another silly, fun-filled day for all. For next year, organizers are looking to put even more emphasis on the downhill fat biking aspect of the weekend, perhaps introducing new activities like a downhill slalom competition.
This video, produced by Borealis Fat Bikes, seems to sum things up pretty well:
Karen Jarchow, winner of the women’s Open category in Saturday’s race, said that the event was a blast, and that “the people who put on the race are the nicest, hardest working, and the most humble mountain loving people out there. The scenery, conditions (besides the frigid temps), and after party are all well worth putting on anyone’s fat list.”
Steve Kaczmarek, of Borealis Fat Bikes and one of the founders of Fat Bike Worlds, says that this is his favorite event of the year, due to its fun, inclusive atmosphere, and the fact that it’s not just a race that people show up for and then leave. Due to the nature of the event, being a full four and a half days of activities, and the location.
In addition to fat biking, Crested Butte offers both downhill and nordic skiing, snowshoeing, and a town full of things to do. The whole family can come along and have a good time.
Crested Butte is absolutely thrilled about the vibe that Fat Bike Worlds creates for their town. As Andrew Sandstrom, Public Relations Manager for the Gunnison-Crested Butte Tourism Association says, “Crested Butte is a zany, fun-loving, wild town, and that’s the image that Fat Bike Worlds embodies. It’s a perfect fit.”
The town has a long history of bike culture, boasting the oldest mountain bike association in the world, and some of the oldest mountain bike races in the world. Andrew also pointed out, “Before fat biking was even a thing, people rode their bikes year-round. They just didn’t want to stop!” It’s no surprise that the fat bike scene, and Fat Bike Worlds, have been welcomed with open arms.
This years event drew 280 participants from all over the United States, as well as people from the U.K. and Australia. David Ochs, Director of the Crested Butte Mountain Biking Association, loved seeing the return visitors from England who said their goal was to double their representation each year—last year one guy came, so this year they brought 2, and plan to bring 4 next year. There was a rider from Hawaii, who had never ridden his fat bike on snow before (normally he rides on sand). Lots of locals came out as well to give it a try.
Though the event has the potential to be huge, it is important to the organizers to maintain an intimate atmosphere. The event will be capped at 300 riders next year, and is expected to sell out well in advance. After talking to the organizers and hearing more about the event, I’m pretty tempted to go give it a shot in 2018!
For more information, check out the Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce website.