Ordinarily when someone tries to charge me for riding my bike, instead of opening my wallet I open my mouth to complain. Bikes are already expensive, and racing isn't terribly exciting for those of us at the back. I typically prefer to ride alone or with a few friends at a leisurely (and free) pace. However, because fatbikes are a little ridiculous in a way I fully support, and Crested Butte is one of my favorite places, I decided to check it out. I'm glad I did.
I was accompanied by my trail partner and life buddy Rebecca, and we arrived in Crested Butte on Friday night at exactly pizza-thirty. Reports of heavy snow in the area were not fake news.
The forecast was calling for temperatures around 20 degrees during Saturday's race. It was -16 when we woke up and I never saw the thermometer climb into double digits. It didn't seem like the best weather for bike riding, but it was great weather for drinking coffee next to a window.
The course was out in the open and unbelievably gorgeous. I tried to take some pictures, but my phone was in my pocket and I somehow got sweat all up inside my phone's case (though I'm sure I wasn't sweating), and thus I couldn't swipe over to the camera. After you finish looking at Chad's suit, look beyond him to get an idea of the kind of Rocky Mountain meadow we rode through:
Despite the temperature there were some bare legs:
The course had been groomed by snowcat. It was a little soft on the periphery, but in the center it was quite fast. The abacus zip-tied to my handlebars on which I calculate my average speed was frozen, but still I maintain that the trail was quite fast.
I've ridden bikes in the snow a fair amount and haven't had issues with frozen water before, but on Saturday my water was frozen before we left the starting line. It turns out that riding 18 miles in the cold without hydration isn't really a problem (the whiskey handups were key).
I don't think I've been involved in a race that felt more like a group ride. Participants were great to one another. It's a real joy to get out on the bike in the middle of winter, and that joy is what the event captures and promotes.
On Sunday, we got to take our bikes up the mountain the easy way. It was a little bit warmer, and it's unclear whether it was the weather or the free beer that motivated Rebecca to suit up and hoist her Surly Wednesday onto the lift, but there she is.
At first, there was only one singletrack run open for us, and it was deep and sloppy and rutted, and one couldn't help but do this about every seven feet:
It was silly in the best way, like playing in the snow as a kid. It was an exercise in being upside-down with snow in your pants and getting to laugh with other people who also have snow in their pants. After a couple of hours we were too destroyed to continue.
Now, if only somebody would hold Hot Tub Worlds on the same weekend.