Fatbike Amassador – Danielle Musto
RideFatbikes.com welcomes its newest Fatbike Ambassador, and its first female Fatbike Ambassador, Danielle Musto! We had the pleasure of meeting Danielle at the Fatbike Frozen Forty, and we’re thankful that she’s willing to share an occasional report or story with our readers. Be sure to check out her site. Here’s the first report from Danielle.
After 14 consecutive days of rain we finally had a break in the weather this past weekend. It was perfect timing to go race my fat bike on the beach at the Chilly Blues Challenge in Grand Haven, Michigan.
I had taken a few weeks off from racing after the Great Lakes Fat Bike series ended and I was excited but also nervous to get back at it. It’s easy to gauge fitness when racing all of the time. But regardless of how well my training has been going I always start to question myself when I’ve taken a few weeks off. I had no clue how I was going to feel after a particularly hard week of training.
Chilly Blues Challenge pic1
The drive out to Grand Haven was an adventure in itself. The city of Grand Rapids (and surrounding locations) had been experiencing more rain then anyone has seen in a long time. It seemed that every road we turned down was closed off due to flooding. To make things even more interesting it started snowing about 15 minutes into our drive. Even though the skies were clear temps were only in the high 20’s. Not the most ideal conditions for a day at the beach.
Finally we arrived at the race venue and all of my pre-race nerves went away. Instead I was just excited. Once of the best things about living in Michigan are the Great Lakes and riding across the beach on a fat bike is one of my favorite things to do.
All the racers had the same expressions on their faces at the riders meeting. Big grins. The wind was whipping sand around us, waves were crashing into the shore and a crowd of people was slowly gathering to check out our fat bikes and see what we were up to.
Chilly Blues pic 2
Instead of drawing a start line in the sand the promoters thought that it would be more interesting to have us do a Le Mans start. So we all dropped our bikes in the sand and went back to the parking lot until the promoter said, “Go!” Trying to run fast in the sand in cycling shoes is something I want to do again…never! I was very, very happy when I finally reached my bike. This was the first race I’ve ever done that didn’t need any course markings. All we had to do was keep Lake Michigan to the right on our way out and to the left on the way back.
Chilly Blues pic 3
Racing on the beach felt completely surreal. Although I was chasing and being chased, I also felt like I was completely alone on the beach. The sun was beating down on the sand, seagulls were flying overhead, and I was trying to stay as close to the water (the sand was the most packed down there) without getting hit by a wave. For the most part I was able to avoid the water, but there were a few moments where I had bad timing and got wet. It made me laugh. Dodging waves on my fat bike made me feel like I was ten years old again without a care in the world.
Before I knew it I was at the turn around point and heading back. That’s when I was hit in the face and chest with 100 pounds of wind. I knew that I had a tailwind at the beginning of the race, but I had no clue just how big it was until I turned around. All of a sudden my legs went from pedaling effortlessly to barely moving. And because I could barely move I wasn’t paying as much attention to the waves. A few crashed against me, stopping me in my tracks and soaking me all the way up to my knees.
The amount of beach between the finish line and I suddenly seemed huge. I was almost at a standstill at times. There was a lot of debris strewn on the beach from the storms and I finally just started riding over all of it. A random shovel, some sticks, a piece of driftwood, a dead bird, some decaying fish…there was stuff all over the place.
Chilly Blues pic 4
Finally the lighthouse came into sight and the beach became more populated. A few random walkers cheered me on and after what seemed like a year (it was only an hour and ten minutes) I crossed the finish line. I was the first placed female and 7thoverall out of the guys.
What a crazy, stupid fun race. I had a grin on my face for the rest of the day. Being able to ride my Beargrease over sand and next to the water is something that will never get old and I can’t wait to go back. I might wait until the wind dies down though!