Silverton, Colorado is known for some of the best backcountry skiing in the San Juan’s, but there’s more ways to explore the “Heart of the High Country” each winter—and it starts on two fat tires.
The only wintertime activity we love (almost) as much as skiing is fat biking. There is just something about cruising around on snow with 5-inch tires that puts a huge smile on your face! So, when the opportunity comes up to ride in Silverton’s annual Whiteout event with a wild crew of like-minded, fat tire-loving, party people adorned in costumes, jorts, and speaker-bumping good tunes, we jump on it.
The Silverton Whiteout is an annual 8+-hour fat bike (and other human-powered pursuits) race that takes place the first weekend in February. This year marked the 9th anniversary, and it did not disappoint.
This year, the Avon served as the course starting line. Built in 1904 and restored in 2017, this historic hotel/bar/music venue was the epicenter of the weekend’s event. After a few pedal strokes from the Avon, the course meanders through downtown streets and follows the steady, moderate incline up the canyon to the Outpost and Powerhouse, a.k.a. music, food and drink pitstops.
Speaking of the Powerhouse…remember Scotty Bob skis? The Powerhouse is the former Scotty Bob factory, turned community art space, which was full of food, art, music and good times – including giant snow berms for the kiddos to ramble around on.
The course then takes riders on a lovely cruise back to town and into a climb up Shrine Hill – which, in our opinion, is the one of the major highlights of the whole ride. Why is this? Well, the bacon, of course! This must-awaited aid station is where Ron Andrews (of Durango-based King Cage) cooks up some delicious bacon trail treats over an open fire. After catching your breath (and filling your face hole with juicy pork goodness) hit the kicker and cruise back into town where music and festivities await back at the Avon.
The course ranges from 8-10 miles, depending on the year and snow conditions. This year, the race was changed to an 8-hour format, allowing for a later start and somewhat warmer temperatures (thank you for that!).
Of the three/two times we have attended the Whiteout (my husband/myself respectively), the roads in town were always snow/ice covered, even when the daytime temps start to feel balmy. The town also maintains some groomed tails for XC skiing, which are included in the course.
The Silverton Whiteout is a fantastic event that keeps us coming back for more. And if the smile-inducing, bike-loving good vibes nature isn’t enough to inspire you to register for next year’s event, maybe its mission is. The Whiteout wasn’t created just for the fun of riding fat tires on snow, the event also benefits Durango Devo, a non-profit focused on getting more kids on bikes. And what’s better than helping kids get stoked on bikes?!
Many thanks to Joe and Durango Cyclery for keeping this event running. We’ll see you next year!