SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION – December Print Issue
When it comes to biking and parties, there’s no place in the world quite like Crested Butte, Colorado. So it’s no surprise that the first-ever annual Fat Bike World Championships will happen in the same place where the original Bike Week was born. And it’s also no surprise that the event will include much, much more than just bike racing. Scheduled for January 27–31, the Borealis Fat Bike World Championships will feature four different races, a regional fat bike summit, a vendor showcase, plenty of demo opportunities and more than a fair amount of fun for everyone who shows up.
“Fat bikes are the fastest growing segment of the biking industry, and we wanted to give people an event that allows them to compete on some world-class trails,” said David Ochs, Executive Director of the Crested Butte/Mt. Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce. “But we also wanted to have an outlet to expose even more people to fat biking and show them just how much fun it is.”
The Fat Bike Worlds is designed to accomplish both those goals with typical Crested Butte flair.
The event will kick-off on Wednesday, January 27 at the Brick Oven Pizzeria with a keg sponsored by Chopwood Mercantile. It’s a party that will set the tone for the entire event and the big highlight will be a showing of “Off the Beaten Path,” courtesy of First Tracks Productions. On Thursday, January 28 the bike racing officially begins with an epic 30-mile backcountry race around Lily Lake that is open to both teams and individual riders. The groomed course of backcountry singletrack is six miles out of town and situated at 10,000 feet, so participants can expect to be immersed in scenery that will likely take away some of the precious breath they’ll be trying to grab hold of as they race through that thin mountain air.
The following day, Crested Butte will host a regional fat bike summit that will bring together fat bike enthusiasts, land managers, Nordic center operators and anyone else interested in learning more about the current state of fat biking in Colorado and what the future might hold for this rapidly growing sport. The all-day summit will break for lunch to allow participants to demo some of the latest and greatest fat bikes on the North Village trails and get great views of Axtell, Gothic and Crested Butte mountains while they crunch through some of the most famous biking trails on the planet.
The main event will take place on Saturday, January 30. The first annual Borealis Fat Bike World
Championships will be a 52-mile elite race run through a roughly six mile loop of East Side trails that are cut between the Town of Crested Butte and Crested Butte Mountain. The course features a fine selection of Crested Butte Nordic Center’s groomed Nordic Track trails combined with some groomed singletrack custom-made for the event. This spectacular course is designed to challenge riders of all skill levels and is guaranteed to leave every one of them, well, breathless.
The quality of the course—as well as the prestige surrounding the opportunity to be crowned the first fat bike world champion in history—is attracting a tremendous amount of attention from riders all over the world including six-time Leadville 100 champion and Mountain Bike Hall of Fame member Dave Wiens who has signed on to compete in the Fat Bike Worlds. But Ochs said the race is open to more than just professionals and top-level riders.
“That’s the beauty of fat bikes, you don’t need to be experienced to have a great time riding,” he said. “You just need to get on and give it a whirl.”
That prospect might very well be the most difficult hurdle to overcome during the final race of the event. After a party-packed night following the Worlds, the Hair of the Dog race will take place on Crested Butte Mountain Resort and will challenge riders to climb up the mountain (with a few obligatory beverage-consumption stops along the way) then make their way back down via some of the fastest and flow-iest fat bike trails in the world, all in an attempt to showcase the newest craze in fat biking—downhill riding.
“Part of the appeal of fat bikes is that there’s just so many different ways you can enjoy them,” Ochs said. “And we want to give people a chance to experience as many of those different aspects as humanly possible in four days.”
“Each of the races is designed to provide a different kind of opportunity and allow racers of all skill levels to experience different aspects of fat bike riding,” Ochs said. “And all of them are designed to create an authentic Crested Butte style of fun.”
Which means that there will be no shortage of shenanigans during the four-day event. From costumed riders and beer tents to live music and great food, the Fat Bike Worlds will provide plenty of opportunities for a good time for participants and spectators alike. And, to ensure that everyone has ample opportunities to get involved in the latest craze to hit the biking world, Crested Butte bike shops such as Big Al’s Bicycle Heaven will be offering fat bike rentals, and manufacturers such as Borealis, Salsa, Surly and others will provide demo rides for anyone who wants to throw a leg over a fat bike and find out what all the fuss is about.
Even those souls who would rather watch than ride are in no danger of being left out of the fun. For visitors who are looking for ways to enjoy the snow on something other than a fat bike, Crested Butte’s Nordic Center allows kids 17 and under to ski free and will also be offering backcountry snowshoeing tours, Nordic and skate ski rentals and ice skating opportunities for the whole family. For an early morning pick-me-up or an afternoon treat before hitting the trails or the skating rink, stop into Crested Butte’s landmark coffee shop, Camp 4 Coffee, and get a taste for beans with true mountain flavor. And when it comes time to warm up after a hard day of having fun in the snow, head over to Montanya Distillers for some live music and a sampling of signature cocktails featuring their world famous high-mountain rum.
No matter where the trail might lead, expect an inordinate amount of biking, partying and smiles.
“Show up for the racing or show up for the fun, just make sure you show up,” Ochs said. “You’ll definitely be happy that you did!”