Living in Minnesota during the winter provides lots of fat biking opportunities. While I’m no stranger to racing during the summer months, racing a fat bike is an entirely different experience.
The Fat Bike World Championships in Crested Butte, Colorado was my first experience racing on snow. Not knowing what to expect, I wanted to be as prepared as possible and pack the right gear.
I started packing three days prior to my event while I scoured the Internet and watched the weather. With the weather holding somewhat steady and true to the average highs and lows, I packed the following:
My go-to travel gear includes a Bontrager Provence 32 roller travel bag and the Bontrager Chi-Town backpack. This travel gear offers a lot of packing compartments and is perfect for a cyclist’s gear-intensive trips.
I chose to wear the Bontrager OMW glove. They were fantastic, and I didn’t even need a back-up pair. These gloves are a 2-in-1 set up. The outer mitt is made of Profila Storm shell, and the inner layer features Profila wind fabric layer with insulation and merino wool. My back-up glove is the 45NRTH Sturmfist 4 and 5.
A good base layer is worth its weight in gold. This essential piece of clothing keeps your core temperature warm and wicks away the sweat. I really like lightweight women’s merino wool blends because they are smooth on the skin.
It’s all about layering. Over my base layer, I wore fleece bibs, a windbreaker vest and my fleeced-lined KÜHL cycle kit made by Vermac. For my outer layer, I wore the GORE Element Women’s Cycling Pant.
My feet tend to get cold quickly regardless of the temperature. I usually wear a combination (depending on how long I’ll be in the cold). If it’s 25 degrees or warmer, I’ll go with the 45NRTH Japanther boot with a seal skin sock. The temperatures for race day were predicted to be 10-18 degrees, so I went with the Bontrager OMW winter boot and a wool high sock. This combination served me well with minimal issues.
- 45NRTH Vanhelga
- Kenda Juggernaut Pro
- KÜHL SPYFIRE® Jacket
- KÜHL ARKTIK Jacket
- KÜHL KLASH Pant
- KÜHL MØVA Pant
- KÜHL WINTERTHUR Fleece
- KÜHL beanie and neck gaiter
Day 1: Flew MSP to Denver and headed to Leadville to grab my fat bike. It was the same bike I rode in the Leadville 100 MTB Bike race last August. At that moment I realized I’d never actually raced my fat bike on SNOW! This came a bit of an eye opener, but I knew that I was not going to be the only one riding in snow on Saturday.
Day 2: I was up early, and I headed over to Crested Butte to meet up with a friend, who also was doing the race and had actually won it in the past. I figured if I needed a few words of wisdom I was sure to get them from her.
After arriving in Crested Butte, I took the fat bike out for a spin and then headed over to registration and packet pick-up. I met the event director, Scott from the Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce. His enthusiasm for the event, as well as the town, is infectious. Crested Butte is a very active, outdoor community. It’s easy to tap into your creative side with plenty of local art and cuisine.
I unpacked and settled in at the Nordic Inn. The hospitality was amazing, and we quickly found the homemade cookies and jar of Swedish Fish and Tootsie Rolls!
Day 3: Race day morning was COLD! We dropped down to the start line an hour prior to the start, ready to roll. There was no turning back on my apparel, and I was satisfied with my selection. Tire pressure was another factor that weighed heavily on our minds. I learned a lot about riding in snow. Much like skiing there can be different types of skis and waxes for the conditions. I learned tire pressure isn’t the only factor to consider; technical experience and the weight of the rider are other key considerations. I went with 6 lbs in each tire.
The race also taught me more about hydration. Prior to my switch to cold weather fat biking, I had a mindset that if the temps were lower than my age, I wouldn’t ride. With the temperature hovering in the teens, my Camelbak tubing system completely froze, and I wasn’t prepared! With some quick thinking, I realized I could utilize the feed zones to grab a water bottle during the 5-lap race.
I ended up 4th Overall Female and was extremely happy with my result! I’m looking forward to more fat bike adventures and continuing to learn.