BEEs Back In Action At Fat Chance!

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While there are plenty of days we wouldn’t mind braving the elements, Sunday’s Fat Chance was not one that would have us leaping out of the warm, climate-controlled Hive. At just two degrees at the start, Crystal Mountain was sunny but unforgivably frigid for the first race in the Short’s Brewing Fat Bike Series.

Now in it’s seventh year, Fat Chance has become the unofficial start of the fat bike race season, kicking off a four-race slew of events packed into January, February, and the first weekend of March. It’s a run of races that can offer up everything from sub-zero temps to sunny days in the 50s, with racers on melting snow and even riding with bare arms!

More than a few BEEs were in the Hive with the fans turned on high Sunday morning at the same time over 100 racers were taking the line at Crystal Mountain. The two race categories were both circuit-style laps of a 2 mile course, with the 45 minute Short’s race finishing up a bit before the 90 minute Long race. As one of the biggest races of the series, it was a key event to pick up as many points as possible, and riders started with an aggressive opening lap to start the inevitable sort-out.

Leading the way for the BEEs was Nick Wierzba, who made the first splits, only to find himself gapped because of his applause-worthy sportsmanship, refusing to take out slower riders in the singletrack. Nick battled on all morning long, eventually sliding in fifth place in the Men’s Open.

The Men’s Master’s race was one of the most exciting of the day. While first and second place in the category were up the road, it was a red-hot race for the final podium spot and some crucial series points featuring past-BEE Kris Sands, Rob Goepfrich, and KLM’s Jim Jackovatz. With a number of other riders joining, dropping, and being dropped from that core trio throughout the day, the last lap saw the group tear apart at the seams. Jim snuck just off the front, leaving Rob G and Kris to sprint for fourth, with Rob G taking the spot on the line. Luke Schwartz spent most of the day going elbow-to-elbow in the same bunch, though he was forced to settle for a strong tenth in the Open category.

On the women’s side, leave it to Coach Susan to start off 2019 with a win! A former SBFBS winner, Susan ably won the Women’s Open after a strong first two laps. She was able to match the pace of a number of groups and stay clear of Chelsey Schlict, who was relying on her hard-earned Tempo Block power to give Susan chase. She paired with Cindy Duby much of the day to finish just 3 minutes down on Susan, a very impressive start to the year!

Also on the Master’s side, Jim Walters and Don March both just barely missed top tens in a race dominated by Paul Olson and John Duby, who were first and second, respectively. John Edingfield hopped up to the full 90 minute race and rode steady, lap after lap after lap, ultimately finishing just inside the top 20 and only 4 laps down from the overall winner.

Birgit Conway jumped into action for the full 90 minute race, but a bit of bad luck caused her race day to last just a single lap. A flat tire that just couldn’t be fixed knocked her out of the game early, but since she finished a lap, she does pick up a few points towards the overall series with a seventh place!

There’s nothing easy about racing in 2 degree weather, and if you’ve never raced a fat bike, you don’t quite know how hard 45 minutes at race pace can be! Bobby Flake is back in action and he’s off to a killer start in 2019, taking the overall win in the Short’s race after riding all day to stave off the hard-charging Shreddy van Raillin. A special nod to August Schwartz who won the Junior category…he’s the pride of Anne and Luke Schwartz, and it’s going to be really interested to see Gus racing this summer on a bike that doesn’t weigh as much as he does!

It’s a great start to the winter race season, and for our skiing BEEs, it started Saturday. Skiers at the Cote Dame Marie in Hanson Hills, Scott Howard enjoyed balmy temps of six degrees. The 28km race is the start of a slew of events that lead into the North American Vasa on February 9 and 10 here in Traverse City.

Congrats to everyone who braved the elements and still made it back to the Hive to take care of business this morning! You can check out the full results right here.