Heading off to fat bike nationals, I was pretty happy with my current set up and decisions. I had my Kenda Juggernaut pro 4.5 snow bike tires that did pretty well in loose snow. Most fat bike couses run on a circuit quickly break down with warmer temperatures in single track sections and this tire has proven a winner in this area. The local base depths of 60'' to 90'' had made me pretty comfortable riding the top tube and hitting loose snow lines with this set up and I was ready for a technical race. I had decided to for go cross nationals and head to fat bike nationals. Boy, had I misjudged the situation. Little did I know, I was heading to my first fat bike nationals...Cross Vegas style.....
Arriving at the course, I realized I was instantly going to have a huge disadvantage. There was no snow! The course director was one of the nicest directors I have met and was doing his best to keep the course in good condition. This included not allowing pre-riding till 4pm the night before the race. The course was actually very muddy when I arrived about 48 hours before the race. It seemed like it would be a perfect cross course....however, I was set up with rims that measure about 114mm. Translated into cross, I was riding a soggy or icy Vegas turf cross course. I would have benefited from a nice set of 33mm grifos, chicanes, or even file treads. This would be equivalent to the cut off of 96mm on the fat bike wheels when it came to tire width. Instead, I was riding 114mm limus tires.
The Kenda Juggernauts are amazing snow tires....however, on a turf race even with a dusting of snow or ice as occurred, this was not the correct set up for the race. Being a cross rider was all I needed to confirm this feeling. And that is exactly what happened....
The race took off with an extra lap added on due to the 15 minute lap time averages and a total race time estimate of 90 minutes for 19 miles. That is super fast for a snow bike race and a little slow for a long cyclocross lap. It was a very small field and seating didn't matter very much. Tire pressures were high across the field at about 7.5 psi or more. The first lap took off and the going was easy. There was no hole shot to the single track for at least .70 miles. However, the temperature was dropping and ice was starting to form on the common inside lines. Lucky for me, I was picking the outside lines and had no problem leaning the bike a bit with my super chubby and grippy tires. I had fought my way up to 4th position at 2 laps in but that's when the inevitable happened. The slow rolling tires and wheels got the better of me on the climbs and I started to slide back. The rest of the race was a time trial for me trying to catch the 5th place position however the gap widened and when all was said and done I had finished 6th. I thank the promoter, racers, sponsors for having this amazing opportunity presented to me again in 2017. However, I took away a couple of learning points. Fat bike races do not equal snow bike races. There is an amazing correlation to cross bike equipment and this should be respected and acknowledged. And.....I am still riding off into the snowy sunset:)
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Rebecca Blatt md ms
This is my blog section on my passion for staying active and enjoying the outdoors.