Bold and Bizarre at Fat Bike Worlds
Sunny skies, ideal temperatures, and lots of fat tire fun marked the 5th annual Borealis Fat Bike World Championship, which went down last weekend in Crested Butte, Colorado. This year’s trimmed-down event kicked off with an evening of—occasionally treacherous—fat bike polo, on a closed down block of the famed ski town’s main drag, Elk Avenue. The following morning, festivities headed to the edge of town for the main event, which consisted of a 3-lap fun race, and 5-lap, very much tongue-in-cheek World Championship affair. Both events were contested on a 5-mile, packed-snow circuit that traced a clockwise loop around the valley floor between town and Mount Crested Butte. Here’s a look at some of the highlights.
Hard to beat the backdrop for the Borealis Fat Bike World Championships. For the uninitiated, that’s Mount Crested Butte, home to one of the best—and most technical—ski resorts in the country. Photo by Jason Sumner This lowkey event still manages to pull in some of cycling’s big names. Former cross-country mountain bike Olympian Travis Brown (left) has been a regular here, this year finishing seventh, about 6.5 minutes back of now two-time winner Josiah Middaugh. Famed mountain bike suspension pioneer and super volunteer Doug Bradbury (right) is a longtime board member of the Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association, which owns and operates the Fat Bike World Championships. Bradbury helped groom the 5-mile track and then served as one of the race day course marshals. Photo by Jason Sumner The weekend-long event heated up with a spirited evening of fat bike polo on Elk Avenue. Teams of two battled it out in 10-minutes matches, where the goal was to score the most goals without smashing yourself on the icy playing surface. Photo by Robby Lloyd/Lucid Images Fat bike polo outfits ran the gamut. A little extra head protection was definitely a good idea on this icy arena. Photo by Robby Lloyd/Lucid Images A field of 160 takes off at the start of the 2020 Fat Bike World Championships in Crested Butte, Colorado. Notice the Fat Bike World’s logo stomped into the snowy hillside in the background. Photo by Robby Lloyd/Lucid Images Up front riders pushed the pace, with the quickest lap times in the 20-minute range. In the back, things were far more casual, with kooky costumes, and camaraderie taking precedent over competition. Photo by Robby Lloyd/Lucid Images Crested Butte loves to dress for the occasion. And fat bike racing is one of those occasions. Photos by Robby Lloyd/Lucid Images Women’s second place finisher (and Gunnison County local) Jenny Smith kept it all in perspective, as she wound her way around the sun-splashed course that held up surprisingly well given the mild temperatures. Smith finished with a time of 2:21:39, more than 13 minutes back of runaway winner Ashley Carelock, who finished 17th among all finishers in the 66-rider Worlds race field. Carelock rode for the Amy D. Foundation team in 2019. Besides being the 2020 Fat Bike World Champ, Carelock’s other claim to fame was setting a course record at the multi-day Colorado Trail mountain bike race. Third place in Crested Butte went to Jill Cederholm Mairs, who posted a time of 2:25:23. Photo by Robby Lloyd/Lucid Images Crested Butte loves to dress for the occasion. And fat bike racing is one of those occasions Photos by Robby Lloyd/Lucid Images Like any good mountain bike race course, there was an optional booter. Photos by Robby Lloyd/Lucid Images Like any good mountain bike race course, there was an optional booter. Photos by Robby Lloyd/Lucid Images Middaugh was all smiles after taking his second straight Worlds crown in Crested Butte. The Vail resident, who’s a former Xterra Triathlon World Champion and today operates a successful coaching business, attacked out of a small lead group about halfway through the 25-mile affair. Middaugh held his gap all the way to the finish, posting a time of 1:42:51. Chris Stevens slotted second, finishing 1:20 back of Middaugh. Will Ross completed the top three, crossing the line in 1:45:38. You can view complete results here. Photo by Jason Sumner Middaugh’s race winning rig, a 9:ZERO:7 Lynx Carbon bike dressed with ENVE M685 carbon wheels, SRAM XO1 Eagle drivetrain, Race Face Next SL cranks, Crankbrothers Eggbeater pedals, and Bontrager Barbegazi 27.5×4.5 tires. Photo by Jason Sumner Meet Dave Ochs, the man behind Fat Bike World Championships and the current executive director of the Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association, the oldest mountain bike club in the world and an organization tasked with caring for over 450 miles of sublime singletrack in the north end of the Gunnison Valley. Photo by Jason Sumner Like any good bike race, there was lots of good post-race—and for some during race—beer to be had. In this case it was all courtesy of Durango, Colorado-based Ska Brewing, the event’s official beverage sponsor. Photo by Jason Sumner That’s a wrap from the 2020 Borealis Fat Bike World Championships. But you can bet we’ll be back in 2021 for the race’s sixth running. Photo by Jason Sumner