The American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation’s second annual Fat Bike Birkie, presented by Freewheel Bike, hosted more than 500 riders on Saturday, March 8, in Cable, WI, making it the biggest fat bike event in the country and in the world. Among this strong field of riders from across the country was renowned world mountain bike champion and Mountain Bike Hall of Fame member Ned Overend of Durango, CO, who won the Fat Bike Birkie and in doing so also took the title of the first annual U.S. National Fat Bike Championship.
Ned Overend, aka "The Lung," registered for the event in December, even before it was designated as the U.S. National Fat Bike Championship. He commented in the weeks before the event that, "I work for Specialized in product development and marketing and I'm part of the fat bike product team. I know that the Midwest is currently the center of the universe for fat bikes so I felt it was important to participate in the Birkie event and to come learn from the riders in the area."
The Lead pack of about 12 riders stayed together, single-file, until the halfway point. Overend, Jordan Wakeley--the 2013 Fat Bike Birkie champion--and Jesse LeLonde were out in front. Then the field shrank to a lead pack of about six to eight riders and spread out in a line across the trail. At this point Overend took a lead, charging both up and down the hills to clear a two-minute gap and capture the win.
In an interview immediately following his first-place finish, when asked if he came to win, Overend smiled and quickly answered, "Absolutely!"
47K - Fat Bike Birkie Champions / National Fat Bike Champions
Ned Overend - First in 1:52:50. Durango, CO
Will Ross - Second in 1:54:53. Anchorage, AK
Brendan Moore - Third in 1:54:57. Prior Lake, MN
47K Women's Fat Bike Champions / U.S. National Fat Bike Champions
Jenna Rinehart - First in 2:13:10. Mankato, MN
April Morgan - Second in 2:14:00. Minneapolis, MN
Diana McFadden - Third in 2:15:11. Duluth, MN
20K Men - Winners
James Kauth - First in 52:22. St. Paul, MN
Dag Selander - Second in 53:56. Hudson, WI
Scott Veldhuizen - Third in 55:01. Green Bay, WI
20K Women - Winners
Cindy Bijold - First in 55:18. Hayward, WI
Bianca Bergman - Second in 59:10. Fargo, ND
Jackie Johnson - Third in 1:00:49. Hancock. MI
Birkie Trail Conditions - Called "One of Top Rides Ever"!
Birkie Trail conditions were near perfect, with many riders commenting that it was not just one of the best races they had ever ridden but one of the best trail rides ... ever. Thanks to the Birkie trail crew's final Friday night, pre-race grooming of the trail, the course was firm and fast with no sign of the icier surface in some areas the day before the event.
The American Birkebeiner employs a year-round, full-time trail staff that operates three Pisten Bullys during ski season. The entire Birkie Trail system, including the portions used for the Fat Bike Birkie, have been groomed continuously all winter and then right up to Friday night before the event. This daily and weekly attention to the trail continues as long as there is snow on the trail, even after the American Birkebeiner ski race in February where more than 10,000 skiers take to these trails in a 50/54K race.
Saturday morning the temperature at the start was 20 degrees with an afternoon high of 28, so these great conditions held for the very last riders. The day started out sunny, become overcast and offered up a picturesque period of snow flurries, then the sun came out again to welcome in the middle of the pack and later-finishing riders. The day was, serendipitously, the first break from the sustained sub-zero temperatures across the Midwest all winter.
Course - New Route in Second Year
The Fat Bike Birkie includes two distances--47K and 20K. Both were mass starts. Riders lined up on the drive in front of Telemark Lodge. The course then took them to the infamous Power Line, then into the woods and onto the world-famous Birkie Trail. Riders in the 47K followed the "Skate" trail to the Birkie "OO" Trailhead--the halfway point and turn-around. They then followed the "Classic" trail back to the Telemark property and the finish. Both distances include great climbs and fast down hills that are perfect for fat bikes.
Growing the Event
The event was again capped this year, up to 500 from 300 last year,
and sold out the week before the race. Total participants included more
than 500 rider--those who registered on their own, a few call-ups, and
those who had comp entries through sponsors.
"The Fat Bike Birkie has filled before the event in its first two years!" commented Ben Popp, Executive Director of the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation. "We will continue to monitor and adjust the cap, which allows for the best, and safest, race experience for the participants. Register early before we reach our participant cap for 2015." Registration for the March 7, 2015 event opens on April 1 at www.birkie.com.
Non-Stop Hills and Smiles
With the first annual Fat Bike Birkie in 2013, Birkie event staff discovered what a great bunch the fat bike community is and was eager to welcome them back. These riders have a great can-do spirit and the main goal seems to be having a great time on the trail and getting their fat bikes on some great snow. They take to those Birkie hills and still come across the finish line smiling.
It was a full house at the post-race party in the big finish line tent. There is a lot of camaraderie among these riders. When the last participants, a couple, finished together in over five hours, everyone still at the party came out to create a long line of high fives for the pair as they made their way across the line.
"We feel fortunate to host this great group of people," said Ben Popp, Executive Director of the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation. "We are already looking forward to next year's event on March 7, 2015, and to again hosting the second annual U.S. National Fat Bike Championship. It was a stellar day all around!"
Awards in Three Best-Of Categories
Awards were presented on the podium to overall and age-class winners
of the Fat Bike Birkie. The Birkie then presented awards to the overall
male and female U.S. National Fat Bike Championship winners, which
included the first annual USNFBC jersey. Then the Great Lakes Fat Bike
Series presented its awards to series winners, which is based on points
from all races in the series, culminating with the Fat Bike Birkie 47K.
What Is the Fat Bike Birkie?
The Fat Bike Birkie event is a once-a-year chance to ride a fat bike--or any bike--on the snow-covered, and beautifully groomed American Birkebeiner Trail system. Fat bikes and mountain bikes are otherwise not allowed when there is groomed snow on the trails. In fact, this new Birkie event took place just two weeks after the 41st annual American Birkebeiner XC Ski Marathon, which hosted an international field of 13,000 skiers and is the largest ski race in North America. The Fat Bike Birkie, with distances of 47K or 20K, is also a great event for all abilities--from elite to citizen riders. The trail is wide enough to accommodate both expert riders and newcomers to fat biking.
Registration for 2015 Opens April 1
See All 2014 Results
Watch LIVESTREAM Video of Event:
Available for viewing through April 7
Thanks to Our Sponsors - The Fat Bike Birkie, 2014 US National Championship Race, is presented by Freewheel Bike. Other sponsors include the Cabin Stop of Hayward, Life Time Cycle, Riverbrook Bike & Ski, Fat-Bike.com, Hed Bicycle Products, 9:ZERO:7, Bar Mitts, BELCH Gear, 1UP USA, Hammer Nutrition, and GU Energy.
SKI . RUN . BIKE . LIVE! For information on a year-round Birkie events, visit www.birkie.com.
Questions? Email the Birkie at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-634-5025.