My dirt journey started with racing my mountain bike. Quickly after the bug bit me, I got involved in promoting races. A lot of races. I’m still at a pretty young age, and I already have over 10 years of event experience under my belt, ranging from 20 person grass-root cyclocross races to 400+ person UltraCX events and small 5k running races to 80 person resident MTB Skill Instruction Camps. I don’t do many events anymore, but it remains a part of my lifestyle: building trail, teaching people how to ride it, and enabling group recreation opportunities in the community. I put on the Michaux MTB School, one of the few MTB Trials events I know of during the Canaan MTB Festival, and the Mountain State Fat Bike Champs. The latter was this past weekend.
The Mountain State Fat Bike Champs is my effort to pump up fat biking in the central Appalachians. The Potomac Highlands to be specific. Here in Canaan Valley/Davis/Thomas area, we get a lot of snow and mixed snow conditions. Fat Biking makes sense here, allowing for increased comfort and an extended season in some pretty ridiculous conditions. No longer are the days where I think it’s too cold to ride…..hitting -20 degrees some days. Marginal conditions? No problem, I’m not trashing my rock ski’s, I’m fat biking. But the real joy, and why I push this so hard, is the moments that I get to ride groomed trail. The opportunities for that specific arena are still pretty limited, but this race is one of the big opportunities to get some groomed goodness.
The Mountain State Fat Bike Champs are hosted at Whitegrass Ski Touring Center at the eastern end of our valley. This is the second official year we have had the race, and we stayed low on the mountain. We don’t get the grin-enducing two-wheel drifting descents that way, but it does make for a more consistent racing course. This year 59 racers toed the line, about the same as last year. All proceeds go towards local trail projects. Last year and this year, the benefit is for our local #greenflow project. This is a new trail project focused on increasing trail accessibility while retaining a single track experience. We don’t have a lot of green level or easier trail opportunities around here, and this project is aimed at creating more of just that. It is administered by New Historic Thomas, and is located at the Thomas City Park Trails.
As always, events are where community comes together. And as Sue says,” it takes a mountain village.” Thats what we have here, and thats what really made this weekend cool. I work at Whitegrass, and putting on the race made me miss some shifts. It added extra strain to the rental staff on a big weekend and on the cafe staff during a busy dinner. Not to mention stress on the groomers all week and weekend long. Through in all the local helpers who made it out on course to hand out beer, cheer, and maybe a bit of direction, as well as all the local sponsors who kick ass in their support of local endeavors, and it really does take a village! It takes our whole damn mountain town. Thanks ya’ll. Thanks.
You can read some of the race reports and coverage here:
- Race Report: https://d36gb93zszu20a.cloudfront.net/BR/inc/content/images/files/1497/Fat%20Bike%20Champs%20Race%20Report.pdf
2. Highland Outdoors: https://www.highland-outdoors.com/plump-it-up-2nd-annual-fat-bike-race-a-success/
3. Another Highland Outdoors: https://www.highland-outdoors.com/fat-happy-mountain-state-fat-bike-champs/
I’ll leave it on this note: next year I’m hoping to groom regular fat bike routes and keep building the fatty stoke. So come try it out. There’s plenty of time left in the season to be curious. Rob will set you up with bikes and beta at Blackwater Bikes.