This weekend, the Short’s Brewing Fat Bike Series kicks off with one of the original fat bike events in the state, Fat Chance at Crystal Mountain.
So many of our pals spend their winters exploring the trails and putting down hot laps at Glacial Hills, the Cadillac Pathway, and the Winter Sports Singletrack that it’s only natural we all see each other at the races! Much of our growth over the years is thanks to the support of Short’s Brewing Company, and their passion for the trails and the outdoors is really embodied in their continued sponsorship of events like the Short’s Brewing Fat Bike Series, including the North American Vasa. Hopping into the action is just another great way to get involved!
This weekend, Iron Fish Distillery gets the SBFBS party started at Crystal Mountain with the 8th edition of Fat Chance. The circuit-style race starts at 10am, with 90 and 45 minute options and a number of age categories. Afterwards, there are plenty of prizes, schwag, and Crystal Mountain’s famous chili for participants, plus a chance to ride on the fast, flowy 2 mile course that’s been revamped to include some of the original sections of trail from the first edition of the race!
SBFBS boasts four events, and the second one always feels a bit like homecoming. The 49th Annual North American Vasa is becoming beacon of winter sports in northern Michigan. Skiers and fat bikers, once goaded into conflict, have embraced their mutual love of snow and competitive spirit, and this year’s fat bike race will run alongside the Saturday ski events yet again. NMMBA is heavily involved in the fat bike race, with board member John Roe taking the reins and always delivering what many would agree is the best fat bike race course possible; miles of singletrack, plenty of places to pace, enough elevation to keep you honest, and downhills that will have you giggling. It’s one of the few longer races left in the Midwest, with two 20km laps for the long races and a single 20km lap for the shorter option.
For the first time, the Dogman Challenge is in the SBFBS, but it’s an event that fat bikers have revered for years. It’s a full two-hour endurance race, with racers tackling a two mile loop as many times as they can in 120 minutes. The event, held at Mt. McSauba in Charlevoix, is one of the best run in the state, and nearly every rider who shows up goes home with a little something for their efforts. The noon start time makes it especially easy for folks from out of town to attend, and there’s always a thrill to toe the start line and head straight down the resort’s bunny hill to get the race going.
Finally, the Series ends on a high note with the famous Beard of Zeus, back home at Timber Ridge. It’s literally a party within a party; the race loop sticks to Timber property, with over 1,000 spectators built-in at the annual Suds’n’Snow Microbrew Festival happening at the same time! Racer fly past the beer tent every lap, resisting the temptation to stop and sip (well, trying to resist) as they put in as many laps as possible in 90 or 45 minutes. The March 2 date is often the last race of the year held on snow anywhere in our neck of the woods, while many use the race as a chance to fine tune their fitness ahead of Barry-Roubaix just a few weeks later.
For the first time, Beard of Zeus will be a full-on NMMBA event, with proceeds going to support our mission of building, maintaining, and protecting trails in northern Michigan. Your entry helps us do so much for communities in Traverse City, Bellaire, Cadillac, and across Leelanau County, and your presence means just as much. We love being able to bring riders together and help foster relationships that don’t end when the race (or ride) does.
Make sure all four of the Short’s Brewing Fat Bike Series events make it on your calendar, and we’ll see you in the woods to get ready!