Jeff Oatley – humility, insight, and record-breaking racing at the ITI

MBR RF showOur good friends over at MountainBikeRadio.com have done it again.  All of the guests on The RideFatbikes Show have been outstanding, but Ben with MBR recently interviewed Jeff Oatley for the RideFatbikes Show.  While we have respect and admiration for anyone who picks up a fatbike to ride, race, or adventure wherever the path leads them, we have an even higher degree of respect for the guy who raced fatbikes before the rest of us knew what a fatbike was.  That guy is Jeff Oatley.

Jeff OatleyWhat’s amazing about Jeff Oatley, and this interview particularly, is not his accomplishment.  Sure, his recent fatbike race accomplishment is news throughout the interwebs.   And it’s not to be discounted; it’s beyond amazing.  He not only won the Iditarod Trail Invitational’s 1000 mile route (that’s the long one, if that wasn’t obvious), but he did it in record time.  No, not just record time, a time that decimated the old record.  He raced his Fatback fatbike to a near land-speed record (as far as fatbike races across Alaska go) of 10 days, 2 hours, and 53 minutes.  That’s a long time on a bike, but it beats the prior record by over 7 days.

So, that’s amazing, right?  Yes it is.  But what we at RideFatbikes find more amazing, is his self-awareness, his humility, his outlook, and his insights.  He is quick to point out that he didn’t set out to set a record, nor was he really focused on anything other than racing his race, his way.  He explains that you don’t just wake up, try the ITI the first time, and crush it.  His abilities and skills have been diligently pursued and honed over time.  There is no shortcut to that kind of success.

Most importantly, Jeff Oatley is wiling to share his insights, without bragging, boasting, or any of the elitism that can sometimes overcome someone who succeeds at the highest level of any genre in cycling.  Afterall, if we’re not having any fun riding our bikes, what’s the purpose?  If we can’t encourage others to try the sport, and share our insights, how are we representing the sport?

We like and appreciate the example set by Jeff Oatley.  And he’s certainly a guy whose example sets a pretty high bar, both in attitude and in record-setting.  But don’t take our word for it, have a listen to the interview of Jeff Oatley by Ben Welnak of Mountain Bike Radio, here: http://www.mountainbikeradio.com/the-ride-fatbikes-show/jeff-oatley/

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Winter race season concluding

Triple F 2014One of the greatest things that has come from fatbikes becoming less of a “niche” and more mainstream, is that fatbike racing has followed suit.  Our very own Fatbike Frozen Forty has grown from 50 racers in its 1st year, to 100 in its 2nd year, to 200 in its 3rd year.  Meanwhile, races like the Fatbike Birkie, the Cuyuna Whiteout, and a ton of other races have formed and grown at a similar pace.

This year, the Great Lakes Fatbike Series also grew, and has quite likely become the gold standard for the biggest, best and most well-organized winter race series in the country.  We’d be remiss not to mention that races like the Arrowhead 135, the Triple D in Iowa, and of course the Iditarod Trail Invitational all paved the way for the races that have developed to fill the gaps.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on which seasons you favor), the winter is coming to an end.  In the northern hemisphere, snow is melting, revealing pavement and bare ground once again.  This will soon invite more cyclists to take to the streets, the dirt, and the gravel and new races, rides and training will substitute for riding fatbikes on snow-covered trails.

At RideFatbikes.com, we want to wish you well, wherever your spring riding may take you.  We also want you to take a moment to thank the sponsors or race directors of your favorite races, letting them know you appreciate what they’ve done.  We hope that your winter fatbike experience has made you appreciate cycling even more, realizing that cycling year-around is not limited to California, Arizona and other southern states.

Finally, we want to encourage you to share your stories with us.  Drop us a line via our Contact page, or via our Facebook page.  We welcome and encourage guest posts and articles.  Did you race the Arrowhead, Jay P.’s Fat Pursuit, or the ITI, and want to tell your story?  Let us know.  Was this your first year riding a fatbike, and you want to share your enthusiasm?  That works too.  Let us know what you’ve got in mind, and if it’s a reasonable idea we’ll likely post it.

If you prefer to listen to the stories of others, rather than read the stories, check out what our good friends at MountainBikeRadio.com have going.  We collaborated with them to get the Ride Fatbikes Show going, and they’ve recently had guests like Christopher Tassava (who talks about his experiences at the Arrowhead 135 and Jay P’s Fat Pursuit), Pat Sorensen (who is an amazing guy that carries forward the second generation of Penn Cycle), and many other great guests.  Check out the Ride Fatbikes Show episodes here: http://www.mountainbikeradio.com/the-ride-fatbikes-show/.

 

Posted in Fatbike, Fatbike Frozen Forty, Fatbike race, Fatbike racing, Fatbikes, RIde Fatbikes | Leave a comment

Frozen 40 Recap & more

FFF 1Only one week ago, the 2014 Fatbike Frozen Forty had its third year.  We once again had a sold out race, with 200 racers registered.  The format was simplified this year, as we eliminated the 20-mile format, and kept only the 40-mile solo and 40-mile team divisions.

This year’s trail was slower and more difficult for many, as the winter weather this year made the trail less compacted and softer/drifted outside of the main track.  Many racers DNF’d or had much slower times than in prior years.  Elm Creek has the best grooming crew around, but there’s a limit to how much humans and machines can do to push back on the forces of Mother Nature.

FFF 2Ultimately, even though many racers found the trail more difficult this year than the past, men’s solo winner Jesse LaLonde not only won the race for the 2nd year in a row, but he did so with a commanding lead (more than 20 minutes) on his nearest competition.  Despite a larger field of racers and narrow singletrack trail that was softer snow packed than last year, it appeared to have not phased Jesse a bit, as his finish time in 2014 was less than a minute slower than his 2013 time.  Jorden Wakely took 2nd place, and Jeff Young placed 3rd.

FFF 3Women’s winner, April Morgan, moved up a podium step this year, after taking 2nd in the women’s solo in 2013.  Last year’s women’s champion, Danielle Musto, fought hard for 2nd place, and Jill Martindale took 3rd.  First through third places in both the men’s and women’s divisions took home prize money, with equal payouts offered to men and women, with $250 going to the winner in each solo division, and $1000 total being awarded.

FFF 6Our sponsors in 2014 were outstanding.  Not only did we have several sponsors who have been sponsors for three consecutive years (Maple Grove Cycling, 45Nrth, Surly Brewing), but we welcomed many new sponsors and had better support than ever before, thanks to awesome prizes, demos, exhibiting and more.   Presenting sponsor Maple Grove Cycling was the real deal, having provided neutral mechanical support, volunteers, an outstanding grill-out, fire pits, and more.  Be sure to check out the entire list of sponsors on the Frozen40.com site, here, and thank them with your patronage – let them know you appreciate them supporting fatbike events and races!

FFF 5We had some new features this year, in the 2014 Frozen 40.  We had a better “tent city” than ever before, including a 30×10 heated warm-up tent.  We had our pre-race packet pick-up at Surly Brewing (thanks Surly!) and that was a fun meet and greet event for the many racers who came from near and far to participate.  We also had media support from RaceVista.com.  This meant we not only had a real-time photo slideshow in the warm-up tent where racers and spectators could tag their photos in Instagram and see them displayed instantly, but people who weren’t at the race could see the same photos on the web at RaceVista.com.

#48381_RaceVista_RAWThe reports and photos from the Frozen 40 are a ton of fun.  You can read what some of the racers have to say about the race here: http://frozen40.com/media-reports/.  For photos, you can see the amazing photos taken by 45Nrth (3-year sponsor) at their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.746197395392586.1073741834.263587693653561&type=1.  We also had a photographer at the race taking shots all day, trying to capture as many racers as possible.  Those have been posted to Flickr, which you can view in a slideshow or click through to the entire set via Race Vista, here: http://racevista.com/featured-races/triplef2014/

We’re also proud to have launched a campaign for racers to contribute to Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists (MORC).  Through contributions by racers, and matching funds by the race directors, we’ll be sending a check to MORC for over $500!  In addition, CJ and the amazing and dedicated trail grooming crew at Elm Creek have dedicated their own time, energy, and resources to maintaining the groomed singletrack that many expect or even take for granted.  The trail doesn’t groom itself, and the folks who have done the grooming deserve our thanks.  Race directors Brad and Ben launched a GoFundMe campaign to help them with financial resources for equipment, fuel and more.  This fund raised over $1000! http://www.gofundme.com/6xoj60  Needless to say, the Fatbike Frozen Forty has made an impact in the cycling community through its contributions and initiatives, and we thank all those who have contributed.

GLFBSWe would be remiss not to mention the Great Lakes Fatbike Series.   The Fatbike Frozen Forty was part of the series in the first year of the series (last year) and we were honored to be part of it again this year.  This is a well organized series comprised of some of the best fatbike races in the country.  The series title sponsor is 45Nrth, and there are some awesome prizes (not to mention bragging rights) associated with those who accumulate most overall series points.  The series hasn’t wrapped up yet, and you can view the whole schedule here: http://www.greatlakesfatbikeseries.com/schedule.

Cuyuna 2013 (RideFatbikes.com)095THE NEXT RACE IN THE SERIES is the Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout, in the Crosby/Ironton area of Minnesota, our neighbors to the north.  This is an awesome event, with some of the most beautiful trail in the region.  Online registration closes Tuesday the 25th (in two days)!  Don’t miss out on your chance to race at the Whiteout!  We’ve heard from their race director that even though there has been a ton of snow, grooming is going well, so this could be a very fun year to check out the Whiteout.  If you want to get an inside look at the Whiteout, you can see photos taken by RideFatbikes at the Whiteout last year, which you can find here: http://racevista.com/featured-races/cuyuna-lakes-whiteout-2013-fatbike-race/.

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Great trails and “frozen Garminitis”

image_1Yesterday I was fortunate enough to get a ride in at Elm Creek park, where next weekend’s Fatbike Frozen Forty (Frozen40.com) will be held.  The Frozen 40 has over 190 racers signed up, so very few spots remain if you were still planning to sign up.

Brutal cold can still be beautiful.

It was an early am ride, and when I started, the outside temp was -4 degrees Farenheit.  For those in warmer climates, you probably didn’t know people go outside when it’s that cold.  For those in Minnesota, you already know this is just part of the program.  Avid fat bikers in any cold climate will confirm that even brutal cold can still be beautiful.  There’s something special about riding on frozen ground, seeing through the foliage that blocks the view in summer months, and having crisp/clean air and skies.

Ride highlights and lowlights.

There are some highlights and some lowlights.  Highlights include – beautiful day (notwithstanding the cold), no wind, AMAZING trail conditions, quiet & serene (including deer crossing the trail), fun riding, great trail, great chance for photos and video (below).  Lowlights include – cold fingers (improved over time, thanks to BarMitts), frozen water bottles about 1/2 way through (despite starting with hot water), AND frozen Garminitis.

Frozen Garminitis.

image_15What’s “frozen Garminitis”?  This is the condition/ailment that seems to impact my Garmin at temps below zero.  After noticing my current speed and distance traveled were not changing, I eventually realized I had encountered frozen Garminitis.  No big deal, but disappointing to not have the data (time, speed, distance) that have become a regular part of most rides.  Note to winter riders – if you haven’t already started doing this, it may be wise to keep the Garmin inside a coat pocket, so you can still track the data and check on it from time to time, but not have frozen Garminitis.

If you’ve been to Elm Creek Park’s singletrack trail in the winter, you’ve seen how beautifully the trails are groomed.  There are several individuals who contribute a tremendous amount of time and energy to maintaining those trails, and they truly are among the best trails anywhere for winter fatbike riding.  The photos in this post should make that self-evident.

Gear.

image_11I was pretty happy with some gear that I’ve been using for a couple of seasons now (Salsa Beargrease bike, 45Nrth Wolvhammers, and a few other items).  I have also grown to become a HUGE fan of Bar Mitts.  Look for a review on RideFatbikes.com soon, as I owe Bar Mitts a review, as they were kind enough to send me a set of these to try.  Spolier alert: they are awesome.  I started with cold fingers (from setting up the bike and gearing up with very thin gloves), but after I warmed up while riding, the Bar Mitts basically functioned as perfect insulators, keeping my hands very comfortable and easily able to manage shifting, braking, and handling.

More photos and video.

For anyone who is going to race in the Fatbike Frozen Forty, and wants to know what riding the course looks like, you might appreciate the 3-minute video preview below.  If you’ve never been to Elm Creek, you might want to check out the video, and then plan your visit soon.  If you’re going to be at the Frozen Forty, make sure to plan for the weather (dress accordingly, use insulated bottles or insulated camelback inside your coat, etc., don’t rely on your Garmin unless it’s tucked in a pocket, etc.).

First, the video:

And, a few more photos:

Enjoy your fatbike ride, wherever it may lead!

Posted in Fatbike, Fatbike Frozen Forty, fatbike photos, Fatbike Trails, Fatbike Video, Fatbikes | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Frozen 40 Poster and Updates

frozen40_11x17_Final (reduced size)

Thanks to our sponsor, Justin Piontek Designs, we have an outstanding poster to reveal for the Fatbike Frozen Forty, 2014.  Please feel free to share or print this poster, as we’d love to see this in bike shops or anywhere people support the Frozen 40!

Race details – we just posted updated information at the race website’s news section, here: http://frozen40.com/news/.  We’ll also send more detailed race-related info to all registered racers by email, as the race date approaches.

Registration – as of this post, we have only 42 slots left in our 200-racer cap.  If you know of any fatbike riders who haven’t signed up to race yet, encourage them to do so.  There is $1000 of prize money (equal payouts to top male/female solo finishers), plus truly outstanding prizes from our amazing sponsors, so it’s well worth the price of admission.  Remember that you can form a team if you don’t feel up to racing 40 miles, and even if you don’t have a fatbike you can rent one (find shops that rent fatbikes at RentFatbikes.com).

Find out more race details at Frozen40.com.  See you February 15, 2014.  Be sure to register for the other Great Lakes Fatbike Series races also!  One of our other favorite Minnesota races, the Cuyuna Lakes Whiteout, is just a couple weeks after the Frozen 40 (March 1, 2014), so if you’re in or near Minnesota, be sure to block those two weekends for the Frozen 40 and the Whiteout on your calendar at a minimum, if you can’t make it to each of the series races.

 

Posted in Fatbike Event, Fatbike Frozen Forty, Fatbike race, Fatbike racing, Fatbikes | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Fatbike Frozen Forty Updates

IMG_6039If you live in or around Minnesota, and you have a fatbike, hopefully you’ve heard about the Fatbike Frozen Forty, or raced in it in the past.  If not, check it out at Frozen.40.com.

For those of you not yet registered, we want to let you know that there are just over 50 spots remaining before we reach our 200 racer cap.   Sign up here: http://www.prerace.com/races/event/45968

Race founder Brad Boyd and co-director Ben Welnak have made a significant effort to make this the best year for the Triple F ever.  If you’ve already registered, or are on the fence, here are some things that you can expect at the race on February 15, 2014:

  • Every registered racer will receive a Fatbike Frozen Forty water bottle
  • Race bags will contain coupons for Granite City and other area businesses
  • We will have our heated warming tent, a grill-out, a mini-expo by our sponsors, professional timing, demo bikes and lots of “extras” not always seen at a race this size
  • We will have a HUGE prize drawing

We also have some very special announcements, some of which are being announced for the first time here on RideFatbikes.com:

  • We are offering $1000 in prize money, and prize money will be equal between men and women!  We hope that more women will sign up to balance the field, as this is likely the most prize money offered at any local or regional winter fatbike race.
  • Pre-Race packet pick-up will be at Surly Brewing’s taproom, on Friday the 14th.  There will be one free beer ticket for all adults of age 21 or greater.  Yes, we know that’s Valentine’s Day, so you’re welcome to stop by before dinner.  We’ll announce the time and details soon.  Thanks to 3rd year sponsor Surly Brewing for making this happen!
  • Racers are able to make contributions to MORC (Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists) at sign-up and we are matching up to $250 in MORC contributions.  There is already more than that contributed, so MORC will receive more than $500 from this race and its generous racers!
  • Our presenting sponsor, 3rd-year sponsor Maple Grove Cycling will have their full-service mechanic’s trailer, a grill-out, demo fatbikes and much more!
  • Very generous and BIG prizes will be given away.  For example, our exclusive bike sponsor 9:Zero:7 will be offering a fatbike frame!  3rd-year sponsor 45Nrth will be offering great prizes, as will 2nd-year sponsor Twin Six!  We’ll have professional timing, thanks to 2nd-year sponsor Angry Catfish Bicycle & Coffee Bar.  First-year sponsors HED Cyclcing1UpUSA, Skinz Protective Gear, and Grip Studs will all be contributing prizes.  
  • We’ll soon have a cool sponsor to reveal, thanks to 2nd-year sponsor Justin Piontek Design.
  • Our chief meteorologist Kristin Clark will be again providing a customized race forecast and giving away a free personal weather station, through 2WheelWeather.
  • We have lodging deals available and coupons to area businesses thanks to 1st-year sponsor Minneapolis Northwest Convention and Visitors Bureau.
  • We will have
  • Our newest nutrition sponsor, Tailwind Nutrition, will have Tailwind available at the race for your hydration needs.

If this doesn’t sound like a great race that you don’t want to miss so far, don’t take it from us – check out the reports on the race website.  Be sure to sign up if you haven’t already, and we look forward to seeing you on the 15th of February.

Expect more details on race start and registration time soon, but expect a registration at/around 7:30am and a race start at/before 9am.

Posted in Fatbike, Fatbike Event, Fatbike Frozen Forty, Fatbike race, Fatbike racing, Fatbikes, RIde Fatbikes | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment