First Fat Bike Rally: frozen festival keeper

Barbara Lawlor, Nederland.  For years, many local Nederland residents have said they would like to see the Frozen Dead Guy Festival include some real winter sports contests, another incentive to attend the ever-growing event.

This year that was accomplished with the first Rise of the Dead Fat Bike Rally, that took cyclists around town, into Chipeta Park, along the creek, over the weir bridge, down onto the sandy fishing beach and then splashing through the icy inlet water. Not to mention the slushy trails and the muddy paths.

But the course was exactly what the competitors expected. Winter fat bike racing has become the new way to experience snow trails that have been typically hoarded by cross-county skiers and snowshoers.

It is a fun, more relaxed kind of competition that is available to all levels and all ages and technical mountain biking experience is not necessary. It is beginner friendly and if you are even kind of in shape, you can do it. A fat bike course will usually take about one and a half times longer than on a mountain bike.

Sunday’s Fat Bike Rally attracted about 30 racers, including a few children and a few pros, as well as  a bunch of in between-ers. The most difficult part of the Ned course was the skinny trail coming out of Chipeta Park and up toward the weir bridge where many racers hopped off and ran their bikes up the hill. Going down they hit a field of deep slush that was equally brutal. Hiking one’s bike is expected on challenging courses.

This new event is produced by Without Limits Productions, which organizes sports events throughout the region, and presented by Bike Racing of Colorado.

Special guest racer Katie Compton, of KFC Racing and Trek/Panache, America’s most successful Cyclocross athlete, rode along with  Boulder Junior Cycling team members, beating out both women and men. As she talked with other racers at Salto, she said she hadn’t expected it to be so cold. The clouds had settled in over the reservoir on Sunday morning, and even though it was warmer than usual, there was a Midwest feel of icy humidity in the air.

Among the racers, Nederland Middle Senior High School sophomore Petra Schmidtmann, had a great run in her hometown, coming in fourth place. Schmidtmann has won two junior varsity state titles at the Colorado State High School Mountain Bike Championships. She said it was a great course and she will definitely be back next year. Schmidtmann also came in third in the 2016 Cyclocross Nationals.

All the racers were speckled with drying mud drops and wore slush gators as they headed to the Crosscut Pizza for food, awards and beer. The number one male and female each received $100 cash award.

Barbara Lawlor

Barbara is a reporter for The Mountain-Ear.