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The Fat Bike Birkie is rapidly approaching. Are you one of the fortunate 500 who will be participating on March 8th?In only its second year, the Fat Bike Birkie has exploded onto the scene and is now the official Fat Bike National Championship.Check out the Stars and Stripes Champions’ jersey – how cool would that look on you!?For those of you wondering how this happened and why this is such a big deal, read on.

… a Demand for Events Catering to These Unique Two-Wheeled Beasts

Fat bikes are a relatively new phenomenon with the first complete production frames entering the scene in fall of 2005 (Surly’s Pugsley) and the first complete bikes in fall of 2010 (Salsa’s Mukluk).Prior to the Pugsley,winter riders would modify mountain bikes with Snow Cat rims (two rims welded together with the center rim walls machined away) or seek out custom frame builders to craft a steed worthy of events like the 1000 mile Iditarod Trail Invitational.With the advent of fat tires (3.7” – 4.8”), fat rims and fat bike frames became a demand for events catering to these unique two-wheeled beasts.Riding with tire pressure from 1/2 psi to 10 psi, the fat bike is designed to float on top of the trail surface rather than knife through like skinnier, higher pressure mountain bike tires.

… a Venue Grand Enough to Crown the Fastest Fat Bikers in the U.S.

As long as Homo sapiens have inhabited the Earth there have been competitions, so it wasn’t long before fat bike races were popping up everywhere. With more and more people riding and racing fat bikes it seemed only fitting that we find a venue grand enough to crown the fastest fat bikers in the U.S., and what better place than the greatest ski trails in the country?I remember having a conversation with a good friend sometime in the winter of 2012 about idea of hosting a race on the Birkie trails and how incredible it would be.As a part time resident of the Hayward area, I had some friends that were recent fat bike converts who held seats on the Birkie board.Before long we had gestated a plan to have a “trial’ event, and the inaugural Fat Bike Birkie was born!The vision and willingness of the Birkie foundation to allow fat bikers to ride on the pristine Birkie trails from Telemark to OO and back has provided a case study for other land managers and resort areas to witness how fat bikes and XC skiers can co-exist.

“Ripping down those courdoroy trails I found myself

pushing gears I hadn’t used since the Chequamegon!”

The Birkie trails from Telemark to OO and back are some of the most beautiful in the country.There are rolling hills aplenty along the route to test your lungs and legs, but the reward of cresting the roller coaster is that the downhills are fast and smooth. Ripping down the corduroy trails I found myself pushing gears that I hadn’t used since the Chequamegon!By capturing the downhill momentum I found Velcro-like traction, allowing out of the saddle ‘spider monkey’ attacks on the climbs. This style of riding is a BLAST, and you will want a full assortment of gears and be prepared to use them all!Whether competing in the 47k or 20k events, make sure you hydrate – the course will have 6 or 7 aid stations along the way.Dress for the weather – last year we had a freezing drizzle that made for excellent trail conditions but miserable body conditions if you weren’t prepared.Give yourself plenty of time to get to Telemark– the race starts at 9:00 (9:10 for the 20k) and they don’t wait (not even for the title sponsor) and take a pre-ride to check your tire pressure.And, last but not least, remember to bring your party pants; the post race festivities under the big top will cap off an excellent day of racing.


Fat Bike Birkie – March 8

If you haven’t had a chance to check out a fat bike, come try one at the Fat Bike Birkie demo on race day. If you do ride, grab one of the spots left at the starting line of this event.Already have a fat bike and want to make sure you have the right equipment or make sure your bike is in race ready condition?Stop by one of our 3 stores for a free check over.

Have fun and keep the rubber side down!

Kevin Ishaug

About the author:

Kevin Ishaug is the proud owner of Freewheel Bike, the Fat Bike Birkie’s Title Sponsor. He is an avid fat biker and his knowledge of winter cycling attests to his passion for riding. From hosting local races in the Twin Cities area to winning the tandem category at the Leadville Trail 100, Kevin loves all thing cycling and is excited to share his passion with you.

Posted February 26, 2014 at 8:30 pm