2019 Cleary Lake Fat Bike Race
After all of the problems that I had in the last race, I did not think I would ever register for another fat bike race. After that race, I talked with the gentleman who won it and he offered me some really helpful advice. Primarily, when racing in snow, deflate your tires. In the last race, I started out at around 18 -20 psi. He said that his tires were at about 5 psi.
In addition to what he said, I also learned to NOT stand up when ascending up an incline. This is totally non-intuitive but the second you rise out of the saddle, your back tire looses all traction and you will come to a complete stop. To make matters worse, it is extremely hard to get going again on an incline.
These two factors made this a completely different experience although I still made one big mistake. Before the race I took a few test rides and dialed in the tire pressure. After doing so, there was a loooong wait before the start of our race. This race offered two distances – 5k and 10k. I chose the 10k which did not start until the last racer in the 5k was finished. This took over an hour.
Eventually the race director announced that the 10k racers needed to line up at the start. Apparently, I did not screw in the valve stem tight enough on the front tire because when I came out, it was completely flat. I quickly rushed over to the mechanic’s station where another rider was frantically pumping his tire. Thus, I had to wait. When the mechanic started pumping mine, I told him to stop three times but he insisted on pumping it until it was over-inflated. Thankfully, another mechanic stepped in and told him that there was too much pressure and began deflating it. The race had already started by this point but there was nothing I could do.
Finally, the second mechanic had the pressure just right and I bolted through a crowd of spectators toward the starting line. By this time, the other riders had a head start of about three minutes on me so I pinned it.
The race was four laps and by the end of the first I was approaching the middle of the group. Some people in the back were having the struggles with traction that I had encountered in my last race. Toward the middle, the riders were more solid but there were still a lot of people having a hard time. I could not believe how easily I was negotiating the ruts and floating over the fresh snow.
By the third lap I had lapped about 6 or 8 riders and started feeling real confident. Just when I thought I might be in contention to win it, I heard multiple bikes approaching from behind. No way! At the very end of my third lap, two riders lapped me. How the hell can they ride that fast? These dudes were next level.
I finished the last lap and lapped a couple more riders before crossing the finish. My result was 11th place out of 26. If I had started at the same time, I would have finished 9th.
This race was actually fun. I made some major improvements but, as I found out, I still have a long way to go.